This is for anyone who’s into chaos theory.
The story starts with an innocent, off the cuff tweet I posted six days ago:
‘What’s your word of the day? Mine’s ‘twaddle’.
A couple of replies popped up and without thinking it through, I posted:
‘Anyone else want to share their
#WordOfTheDay (keep it clean kids), let me know and I’ll see if I can write a short story that includes them all. x’
And the die was cast.
Several retweets and replies later, I had seventeen words to play with. Two of them I confess I had to look up, one was misspelled, one was made up and at least half a dozen of them I’m sure I’d never used in writing before.
Ooh what fun.
Now, before I reveal the story itself, there are three things that this exercise has shed light on for me.
1) Copywriters need a brief
If someone had said to me, “write a short story”, I’m pretty sure I would have frozen. Armed with seventeen random words, I had my brief (albeit a somewhat odd one).
2) Limitations are liberating
Seventeen words is easier than 117. Give an artist two colours + black and it will give them more freedom than a trolley dash in an art shop.
3) Creative collaboration is a good thing
Getting others involved in the creative process opens up all sorts of possibilities. This is perhaps the darkest thing I’ve written since I was a hormone-ravaged teenager.
Thank you to Dee @topcontentUK, Jo @jolilford, Leigh @words_person, Sarah @SarahChampneys, Michelle @PRisUs, B @bmichael, Lindsey @lindseyruss1, Beth @squigglemequick, Jamaal @JamaalGriffith, Trudie @Trudie_Davidson, @reallyquitesome, Nik @HelloNikDesign and Craig @straygoat for donating the words.
So, are we sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
(a short story using suggested words from Twitter chums, by Jonathan Wilcock)
Head, wall, bang, ouch, head, wall, bang, ouch…
It was one of those days.
Correction, it was yet another day in a long and painful list of days filled with disappointment, listlessness and procrastination. It was just that this day, the drip, drip, dripping scale of decrement in her quality of life had tipped.
Morag didn’t hate being a dentist. The pay was good, she got to wear latex gloves and drive a BMW. It was the patients.
They had become the cynosure of all her rage and bile. The cretins with crusty nostrils, the twits that talked twaddle through cotton wool-stuffed mouths, the dribblers that seldom bothered to floss before their appointments. Her patients added up to one apodeictic certainty; that mankind needed more than aligners to straighten it out.
“There was a kerfluffle on the A38, so sorry I’m late.”
It was Malcolm Twite. Muppet-featured, sweaty-palmed, always-bloody-happy, Malcolm-bloody-Twite.
“You idiot, it’s KERFUFFLE, not Kerfluffle.” Thankfully Morag had thought it, not said it; but the vein on her forehead probably gave the game away.
She had a list of all of Malcolm’s stupid malapropisms and spoonerisms etched on her brain. Poppyclock instead of poppycock, skedawddle instead of skedaddle, discombabulate instead of discombobulate. The man was a waste of (very bad) breath and he had it coming to him.
“Mr Twite, lovely to see you. Take a seat. Let’s have a look at your notes.” Playing the role of a jolly, benign healthcare servant lifted Morag’s mood.
“Eeek, three fillings. I think we’ll have to knock you out for this one.”
The timing was perfect. Her assistant had called in with another lame excuse for not coming into the surgery. The next patient had cancelled, the receptionist had left for the evening and the clinical waste bins had been emptied the night before. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad day after all.
“That’s it, just relax and breathe normally.”
The nitrous oxide was doing its job. Just a few more seconds and Malcolm-bloody-Twite would be sleeping like a baby. A plump, sweaty-handed, unsuspecting baby.
“Now it’s sleepy time Malcolm. Nighty night.”
A smile cracked her usual shoehorny, lemon-sucking, puckered face.
For too long, any joy she’d felt had been far too ephemeral. This was the closest to job satisfaction she’d experienced in years.
Forceps, probe, rasp, chisel, scalpel. Oh, the clinical perfection of sterilised steel. Morag felt like an artist, a sculptor with a damp ball of clay in her twitching, excited hands.
More nitrous oxide. More nitrous oxide. And a little bit more.
Six hours slipped by as she chuckled, and he snored.
“Torque wrench, root elevator, stitches, a slap round the chops – and we’re all done.”
“You can wake up now Mr Twite.”
Malcolm stirred, as Morag admired her artistry.
“Or should I say, Mrs Twite.”
Words donated: ‘procrastination’, ‘poppycock’, ‘skedaddle’, ‘sleeping’, ‘muppet’, ‘kerfluffle’, ‘apodeictic’, ‘discombobulate’, ‘plump’, ‘cynosure’, ‘dentist’, ‘shoehorny’, ‘ephemeral’, ‘seldom’, ‘decrement’, ‘eeek’ and the one that started it all off – ‘twaddle’.