A novel is achieved with hard work, the short story with inspiration.

Isabel Allende   

San Diego Decameron Project

The San Diego Public Library, San Diego Writers Ink, Write Out Loud, and the La Jolla Historical Society invited San Diego County authors to submit stories for the San Diego Decameron Project. This project is inspired by The Decameron, a book written shortly after the Black Death overtook Florence in 1348, and a collection of novellas structured as a frame story by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375).  The book contains 100 stories told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa. They fled Florence to quarantine themselves for two weeks from the pandemic that ravaged Europe between 1347-1351. To pass the evenings each member of the party tells a story each night, except for one day a week for chores and one for religious observance, resulting in ten nights of stories over the course of two weeks. 

For the San Diego Decameron Project, local authors were invited to submit previously-unpublished fiction or nonfiction narratives based loosely around the theme of the current pandemic. Twenty-five judges read all submissions and chose the top 100 stories. Winners will have their stories posted on one of the partners websites beginning in February 2021. The top 10 most compelling stories will be read by Write Out Loud actors and presented in a virtual presentation premiering in February 2021.  The stories will be digitally archived with the San Diego Public Library and La Jolla Historical Society.

The importance of this project is threefold.  First, there is every intention to let creative writers comment on the present experience; to help all of us unpack and understand this moment; to reflect on what it means to live through the COVID pandemic as related through the written word.  Second, during this time we’re all staying at home more, and as a result, people are reading more.  So to some degree, there’s been a rediscovery of the narrative form, the written word, and this project very much relates to that notion. Finally, there is this idea that we’ve been here before and survived.  The 14th century Decameron was written during one of the worst plagues in history.  Yet humanity survived, the human condition recovered, civilization re-emerged, and the early traces of the Renaissance resulted only a few years later and then carried on for two centuries.