As a journalist, and a copywriter, you would think I would be at ease with words. But, like many other writers I have a difficult relationship with them. I’m over conscientious; I sway between self-doubt, apathy and an insatiable appetite and excitement for writing. Most of my attempts at completing a story or short novel have been afflicted by the niggling thought that good writing is the preserve of a select and gifted few, and if you hadn’t studied literature at university, read all of the classics, and won a fair few writing competitions you were unlikely to ever win a publisher’s literary seal of approval.
But, as I have explored the self-publishing movement that insecurity, and sense of an unsurpassable barrier standing between a story and the people that might want to read it, has been completely shattered. In its place is the knowledge that people have always told stories, and even the greatest writers don’t claim to have been born gifted. In the words of Ernest Hemingway – “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way”.
With the rise of e-publishing, the digital age has revolutionised opportunities for budding authors. An industry that has traditionally been guarded and seemingly out of reach for many would-be authors has become suddenly accessible. You can write a book and publish it on Amazon Kindle, or dabble in micro fiction and ‘twaiku’ (micro-poetry) on Twitter. You can build your own author website, even get crowd funding to write a novel. Speaking at Writing in a Digital Age, the Literary Consultancy’s second annual conference, Robert McCrum, Associate Editor of the Observer claimed recently, if he were 25 today, he could think of no better place to be than independent publishing.
A 25 year old writer myself, like McCrum I am extremely excited to be exploring the indie writer movement. But, on my digital travels I have found that there is no inviting destination you can visit to explore this interesting new wave of literature, and no online community you can join to write alongside others and help create it. As my internal writerly struggles, a demanding job, and an overly inviting pub around the corner tends to lead to short rather than sustained bursts of creative writing; I have a strong affinity with short stories and poems. And right now, I am working my socks off to set up a website, with the goal of helping to bolster the indie publishing movement, and get great short stories and poetry out there.
YakTale is a website for all writers of short stories and poems. In tech language, it’s a user-generated creative writing platform, designed to bring words to readers. In the same way that sites like Instagram or Flickr bring photos to people online, and design communities like dribbble let designers share their work, YakTale lets people share and explore short fiction and poetry, from creative snapshots of real life to stories set in fantastical worlds.
You join the community, set up a profile, publish your own stories and read other people’s stories. As one of our YakTale writers, creative writing graduate Emily Young put it on twitter recently, we’re about “sharing stories and poetry online, just like a literary YouTube”.
There are no gatekeepers, just the facility to vote up an author’s work, bookshelf it, share it, point out a typo, or leave a note of appreciation for an eye-opening read. You don’t have to pay to join, whether you want to write or you just want to read. There is an invitation process for authors, and you will need to request one, so that we can check you’re a passionate writer with a genuine interest in being a part of an online creative writing community. Once you get an invite to join the community, you’ll have free rein to write on YakTale and invite five fellow writers to join.
American fiction writer, Lorrie Moore, known for her humorous and poignant short stories said, “A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.”
That would make YakTale more of a literary Flickr or Instagram than a literary YouTube. And a place where readers can experience the sort of emotion, excitement and adventure that asks for only a brief commitment but endures in the memory.
Flickr and YouTube aside, YakTale is a place for readers, writers and words. It’s about giving authors a space to share great stories and powerful poems, and giving readers the opportunity to read them, whether they’ve got time to kill or a short window to squeeze a quick read into their day.