While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March Experiment - - a 248 word story

A screaming comes across this guy.

"Call me an ambulance."

There is no blood.

"Oh! Isabella."

There is no Isabella.

We think he's crazy.

We give him our shrinks' phone numbers and offer generic antidepressants but he just keeps screaming, "Ambulance! Isabella!"

"Some people," the guy next to me says.

"C'mon," someone else says, "let's get frozen yoghurt like they do on Full House when things get too real."

So we stick our hands in our pockets and turn away from the guy, who's still shouting, "Isabella!"

"She's not coming, pal," someone says in a fake New York accent. Some of us laugh.

At the frozen yoghurt vendor the queue is long. "Lot of people," says a woman with thinning hair. I agree.

They are out of wildberry when I get to the counter.

"I wonder if that guy is still screaming?" a woman asks.

People shrug.

"I once fell in love with a beautiful woman," I tell the man with a tub of apricot beside me.


"You can probably guess what happened."

He nods. He knows.

"That Isabella must be something to behold," I say, then, "Isabella!"

People look around the frozen yoghurt vendor’s store.


"Hey, are you alright?" the guy asks.

"Oh!" is all I say.

"Oh!" groans someone behind me.


"You've flipped," says a woman with a fleck of frozen yoghurt on her top lip.

"Isabella!" another woman cries.

Outside it is raining. A dog leashed to a lamppost begins to howl.

About the March Experiment

When pondering the affect of the extra day on my quest to write a million words in a year, I decided to see what 8 extra words a day really meant by writing a story in 8 word instalments over the month of March.

I set out with the intention to write with a blank slate each day. The first few days the idea of writing only eight words was full of possibility, and I played around with how much meaning you could pack into those words by referencing other works (see the first line of Gravity’s Rainbow, Neil Young’s ‘Ambulance Blues’) and using cliff-hanger endings (e.g. on the first day, there was an incidental reference to Blondie’s ‘Call Me (Theme from American Gigilo)’).

But after a few days, I realised I had to actually write a story, and without the ability to go back and change the foundations, I just had to forge ahead with this story of a screaming guy and sceptical onlookers.

And upon my return from Norway, I realised I had to wrap this thing up somehow.

I had to edit a bit as I went as I often slipped into past tense some days. And today I noticed when I exported the whole story into Word and did a wordcount, there were 250 words rather than 248 (31 x 8). So twice this month I screwed up the simple task of counting to eight… some accounting graduate, huh?

So I’ve gone back, identified the culprits, and massaged the text slightly so it’s 248 words.

I don’t think the story itself has much to redeem it besides the story behind the process. Like most experiments, it was more Learning Experience than Significant Achievement.

Ah well.

Time to come up with my next experiment.

I think it might have something to do with translation. Watch this space.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i laughed @ "a screaming comes across this guy" and the reference to "Ambulance Blues"