Anthony Haynes writes: A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Sam Kelly at Edinburgh Napier University to discuss their (to my mind, highly impressive) masters course in creative writing. Sam, as an erstwhile literary agent, was strong on the conception of writing as communication (rather than self-indulgence) and was keen to encourage students to begin writing for real audiences as soon as possible.
The development of online resources to build bridges between writers and readers is making that ambition ever easier to achieve. One recently launched tool is Scriffon, a very straightforward cloud-based resource for self-publishing.
I use the word ‘straightforward’ equivocally. Critically, one might take it to mean ‘lacking in features’: it’s very much a plain text facility. More constructively, one might say that the limited functionality reduces distractions from reading and writing, thereby focusing attention on text.
To some extent, the site markets itself as a kind of anti-blog. The site removes any need to worry about visuals, commit to regular posting, or maintain a more-or-less persona. As such, it might be well suited for use by creative writing students. They can get pieces out there quickly and they can experiment with different styles and genres and use pseudonyms to help detach the ego from the writing (each account can publish under a number of pseudonyms).
One feature I like is the short column width, which aids readability.
The site is still young (at the time of writing it has 1,867 writers). Pieces are published under a creative commons licence.