She ignored her emotions while labelling his corpse #8WordStory 

Look. I’m a terribly busy and important person.

I barely have time to write this blog post, let alone satisfy my lazily-never-pursued fantasy of writing a novel.

Luckily, the Queensland Writers Centre offered a solution: the eight word story.

Eight words is the perfect length for somebody with the attention span of a stoned goldfish (eg: me).

Yesterday, one of my eight word stories was published by the Queensland Writers Centre. Published on electronic billboards, that is. Billboards that grace the busy roads, roundabouts and motorways in and around Brisneyland.

Billboard at Bowen Bridge Road, Hertson

The story published was one of three stories I submitted on Twitter for the #8WordStory project.

THREE whole stories! That’s TWENTY FOUR words, you know! #TypistCramp

Intentionally, all three of the stories relate to my work experiences. When writing these stories I was ambitious to be ambiguous. When there are only eight words to write, the reader needs to be able to bring their imagination to the story.

Interestingly, the story that was the most ambiguous of the three is the one that made it to the billboards.

#8WordStory x3

She ignored her emotions while labelling his corpse. [source]

I wrote this remembering my experiences of being with patients during the last hours of their life and for the first hours of their death. Nursing’s unique role of caring for a person’s body both in life and death is rarely spoken about or acknowledged. It’s one of those peculiar privileges of nursing.

The story is ambiguous enough for people to project their own meaning (eg: Lea’s tongue-in-cheek Tweet). I’m cool with that.

Impersonating a calm person, the nurse continued working. [source]

I was thinking of a young medical ward RN who had just intervened when a patient tried to harm himself. We had a quick “corridor consult”. She asked a couple of unanswerable questions, shed a couple of tears, wiped her eyes, washed her hands, then assumed her usual energetic and positive demeanour.

One minute there’s a crisis. Next minute it’s business as usual.

Hold and contain three things: the crisis, the patient, your emotions (not necessarily in that order).

The midwife didn’t smile until he heard crying. [source]

About 1 in every 60 Australian midwives is a male. I thought it would be more interesting and ambiguous to cite that minority in this story.

Crying is usually considered in a negative light in mainstream society, but midwives know crying as a sign of life.

Billboard on Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche

My 15 minutes 8 words of fame.

Billboard on Beaudesert Road, Moorooka

The story provides the frame. The imagination does the work.

Billboard on Logan Road, Upper Mount Gravatt


Why don’t you give an #8WordStory a go too? Submit yours via Twitter or web page.

Big shout-out to the Queensland Writers Centre for this great initiative.

Thanks for reading this far. As always, feedback is welcome via the comments section below.


Paul McNamara, 3rd November 2017

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5 thoughts on “She ignored her emotions while labelling his corpse #8WordStory 

  1. walmsleywanderings

    Here was mine:
    Fourth baby.. postbirth pain.. its nothing they said
    no antenatal care.. more little feet appear below!
    death thoughts are hard to ignore #breechdelivery


  2. leamcinerney

    Hi Paul, interesting to hear what inspired the story that made it to the billboard – i honestly read it as a crime/mystery thriller. Imagination is a cool thing and great fiction is clever! (Also probably says as much about the novels i like to read.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul McNamara Post author

      Thanks Lea.

      As you know, I’m a great fan of your Field Notes on Death (for those who haven’t read it, go to: I was channelling you for the #8WordStory on the billboard.

      The wonderful thing about sending stuff out into the public domain is that it is sometimes reinterpreted/remixed. I love that you read my 8 word impersonation of you as something else entirely. I thought you were being playful. Hope no offence is taken (certainly none intended!).

      Kind regards,



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