The write stuff


Last November, celebrating National Novel Writing Month was all about writing a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. This year, to celebrate the prolific power of prose, a new idea has emerged: to write a novel with 30 people.

For scribblers and scrawlers looking for fresh ways to celebrate the bounded book, My Friend Joe in Santa Rosa cordially invites aspiring novelists and literary types to the all-day, team-effort, novel-writing event at the coffee shop on Nov. 12.

According to cafe owner Alexis Bauer, the idea for writing a collaborative novel came about when she was living in Spain and was part of a writers group. “We tried to write a romance novel, but just drank and never finished,” she says. “I decided that we should do the shortest novel and then have that elusive finished product in our hands in one day.”

What better reason to realize her vision than National Novel Writing Month? Armed with plenty of butcher paper and masking tape, Bauer and the cafe’s staff plan to use the walls of Empress Josephine, the cafe’s communal back room, for jotting down ideas and plot lines, and somehow eventually form the scattershot outline into a coherent narrative. Brainstorming will begin at the early hour of 8am, with the finished product anticipated in a finished, printed-and-stapled form by nightfall.

While the project may have potential to get completely out of control, Bauer has a plan. “In the first hour, we’re going to decide the plot; the second hour, we’ll have characters described, and we’ll break it down into chapters,” she says. “From there, people will be able to jump in and out freely.”

Until the big day, My Friend Joe’s Facebook page is serving as a bulletin board for suggestions and feedback about Empress Josephine’s single-day novel project. And whether it becomes a regular event or not, Bauer is looking forward to seeing what happens once the creative juices get flowing.

“This is the first time we’ve done it, so who the hell knows?” she asks. “It could be amazing or it could be psychotic. But I’m hoping for psychotic. We’ve all been trudging around in a murky economy for so long, I’m hoping for some eruptions.”

The Single-Day Novel project gets underway on Friday, Nov. 12, at My Friend Joe, 1810 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 8am. Free. 707.843.4966.