book inc  –  journal  –  Nine Brains Are Better Than One

Nine Brains Are Better Than One

Nine brains are better than one. This is the origin story of our mascot Octavious the Octopus, and book inc, PWN's book writing collective.

By J. Greg Phelan

September 08, 2022

This is the origin story of our mascot, and book inc, too.

Our founding members launched our writing collective in the earliest days of the lockdown, motivated by the idea that writing a successful novel or memoir, contrary to popular opinion, is not a solitary activity. Working together, we believed, we could encourage and support each other to realize the potential of our work.

We banded together, outlined, and drafted our books. We shared our completed drafts, not to get judged or critiqued, but to get positive, detailed reader responses directly on our manuscript. We added two fresh readers after each revision until all nine of us had read each other’s books. We didn’t anticipate how powerful and fun it would be to have all nine of our brains engaged with each one of our projects. To be sounding boards for each other, brainstorming solutions to our process and craft challenges. To be idea-catchers for each other, too. We’d suggest just the right wheelhouse book and other sources of inspiration to bring energy to our works-in-progress, to help us make our books the most entertaining and artful they could be.

As we happily worked together on our books, everywhere we looked we kept seeing octopuses—on social media, Netflix, murals, t-shirts.  We became fascinated to learn these creatures had multiple brains, nine in fact, and that sometimes their brains worked independently, sometimes together. That was just like us, each one of us writing our own books, while also calling on eight other brains whenever we needed them. We became very fond of this shape-shifting, versatile, clever, and tricky cephalopod, and we couldn’t imagine a better mascot to embody the spirit of our endeavor.

Octavious the Octopus was born.

Octavious the Octopus

Logo designed by Christina Brooks.

J. Greg Phelan has written for The New York Times, America, and other publications. He is the co-founder and board chair of Project Write Now, a nonprofit writing center providing classes and outreach for writers of all ages. In 2020, he launched book inc, a community for memoir and novel writers.