Once in awhile, creative insanity comes over me. Working with brilliant college students, as I have for the past four weeks, certainly gets the brain synapses firing and the neurotransmitters and brain cells reconvening in interesting new directions.
And so, beginning Monday, May 15, and for 100 consecutive days to follow, I’m going to Tweet a miniature version of my next novel, Open Mic Night at Boccaccio’s. The idea is pretty daunting, when you think about it: only 140 characters per daily installment, keep the narrative arc in place, entice viewers to come back for more.
I first heard about “Twitterature” at the Winter 2010 Southern California Writers Conference, in an online media class presented by author/social networking expert Lin Robinson. As an avowed fan of flash fiction in the austere, 100-word form professed by one of my writing and editing mentors, Harvey Stanbrough, I filed away this notion of trying to write a book in 140-character bites. If it worked for Cory Doctorow, why can’t I give it a try?
“Open Mic Night at Boccacio’s” is a series of moments, events, readings and interactions between attendees of an open mic music and poetry program at an eclectic Northern California cafe owned by a retired literature teacher-turned-sustainable living practitioner. At open mics, you don’t know what’s coming when a reader or musician steps up to the mike. Sometimes, it’s a song or poem. Or a short story or essay. Or an ongoing series. Or maybe even some local history or comedy. The audience cheers, cries, laughs, sighs, hoots or otherwise reacts in all sorts of ways — at least at Cafe Boccaccio.
That’s half the enjoyment of an open mic. The other half comes from listening to and watching the interaction of the audience, relationships or friendships that literally form over a latte and a night of readings. To me, this is the richness of the human experience, with music and spoken word as the backdrop.
Why 100 installments in a row? Because the book’s title (and the fictional cafe’s name) honors Giovanni Boccaccio, the 14th century Italian author who wrote The Decameron — a marvelous collection of 100 traveling tales, broken into 10 sections, that kicked off an entirely new genre and helped launch the literary side of The Renaissance. For example, Chaucer was highly influenced by Boccaccio’s work when he wrote The Canterbury Tales.
Fittingly, on every 10th day, the open mic will “reset” for its next round on Twitter. I’ll also re-post the previous 10 Tweets in this blog.
So grab your favorite beverage, take a seat, and I hope you enjoy the Twitterature presentation of “Open Mic Night at Boccaccio’s.” See you Monday on Twitter.