The word of the week is:



  1. a person in the former Soviet Union who was refused permission to emigrate, in particular, a Jew forbidden to emigrate to Israel.
  2. a person who refuses or declines something
  3. a person who refuses to follow orders or obey the law, especially as a protest.

Here is an example from Disquiet by Julia Leigh

Marcus, in a sombre fine-wool suit, a tie, and clean-shaven, stood by the doorway, ready to greet arrivals. They emerged from their cars, ancient men and women; the women were all in hats and some wore veils of black lace, black lace or rotten leaves. These were blood relatives, the revolution refuseniks, death’s attendants. They proceeded one by one up the stairs and when they crossed the threshold each nodded or blinked to Marcus by way of condolence. Marcus in turn, nodded and said, “Thank you,” said, “please, this way,” said, “good morning.” An elderly man in a three-piece suit stopped to pat Marcus on the shoulder. With his ancient gummy mouth he tried to find an ancient word but the struggle was too much for him and he gaped and gaped until his wife tugged at his coat and led him away. Another man bowed deeply. A woman, shrunken to the size of a small child, crushed Marcus’s hand. The guests drained through the long corridors and out of the house. For the occasion a path had been marked out with white-painted stones, leading across the lawn and turning up a small hill.


Write for five minutes, using the word “refusenik” as frequently as you can. When you’re fin­ished, post your practice in the comments section.

Also, extra credit if you use the word of the week in your daily practice!

rainbow spirit

Rainbow Spirit by D. Sharon Pruit

My Practice

“Remember the old days, my friend?”

Yekaterina leaned over the upright arm of the chair into her neighbour’s, their noses almost meeting. Sulamith merely smiled.

“Sulie, please my love, don’t forget. Think of the sea of red flags. We burned them. When Sergey Balishihoff came and told us we could not go to Israel with our families. We were refuseniks. But we protested.”

Sulamith smiled, a wry smile, a sly smile. She knew why they had been refused. Salomeya Gelfer had entreated with her to stay. The ballet needed her, the theatre needed her, she would die in the heat of Jerusalem.

The guy that checked visas in the post office was a neighbour, she made him biscuits and persuaded him to refuse them. She could not stay or go without Yekaterina. They were like a conjoined soul. Oh, this was the 1960’s and 70’s in Saint Petersburg or Leningrad as it was then, living in kommunalkas, Sulie could never tell anyone of her great love for Yekaterina.

Now though, in the nursing home, in upright chairs next to each other, they almost touched noses and they held hands, innocent refuseniks.

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).