Writer’s Bloq is an online platform for aspiring writers to meet, share their work, and hopefully find inspiration from each other. Since its launch in February, the site has grown from 20 to 500 members hailing from graduate and undergraduate writing programs in New York City from Harlem to the Lower East Side, from Columbia University to The New School. In order to see what this phenomenon is all about, Untapped met up with founder and CEO Nayia Moysidis.
A twenty-three year old with a B.A. from Columbia , Nayia entered Cafe Lalo and immediately apologized to me for wearing tinted glasses. “The lenses will lighten,” she said, “I’m not wearing sunglasses inside.” I could tell from this comment that Nayia has that down-to-earth quality that many true artists have. It’s the type of personality trait that comes from the experience of being torn down, humbled, and picking yourself up again, striving to find your way.
Nayia knows the pain of rejection. Upon completion of her B.A. in creative writing, she finally finished a novel that she had spent years working on. She was so intimately connected with it that she was reluctant to send it out to publishers. Thanks to the insistence of a professor, she did. Out of nearly 100 publishing houses, she got only four responses. All rejections. Nayia told me, “I can live with rejection. What I can’t stand is being ignored.” Anyone who hopes to write professionally knows the agony of waiting in suspense for a response from a publisher. Nayia’s professors told her that it could take three to five years or more to be discovered. But why? Why is it so difficult to break into the publishing world? Why doesn’t it seem to matter how much time and effort writers put into perfecting their writing? When a publisher looks at a manuscript, he/she has no idea how much the writer has thought about it, how many times the writer has gone back and combed through the manuscript, revising every last detail. Nayia interned at Simon & Schuster, and was disheartened to see how many manuscripts were overlooked because the publishing house simply didn’t have the time or the manpower to read them all.
She started talking to other writers about what to do. The problem was clear. The solution was not. Nayia wanted to create a place where writers can workshop each other’s pieces like they do in undergrad and graduate MFA programs. She wanted to create a space for dialogue where Columbia students can meet students from NYU, the New School and other writing programs. She started developing Writer’s Bloq in the summer of 2011 and launched the site in February 2012. Though she had applied to several MFA programs, she decided that now was the time to help writers overcome the struggles of publishing. She gained some investors and has dedicated herself to the site full time. Several times during our conversation, she repeated that her goal is to “enhance every writer on the site.”
Writer’s Bloq contributors must be approved by Nayia and the board. No particular writing style or genre is valued over any other, but every writer must be affiliated with either an undergrad or graduate program in creative writing or literature. This is to ensure the quality and the privacy of every contributor. When I asked Nayia to explain this decision, she said, “You’re not just going to walk into a random room and pass out your story because it’s intimate, it’s like being naked. The value lies in being able to create that kind of community where people feel safe.” She also told me that posting on the site can prevent copyright fraud. If someone ever tries to steal or plagiarize a contributor’s work, he/she has proof of having uploaded it on a certain date. Literary professionals do not have access to the site, but in the future Nayia hopes to find ways to bridge the gap between writers and publishers.
Features of the site include a profile where writers can upload a photo and keep track of comments made on their work as well as comments they made on other writers’ submissions. Writers can become fans of each other. They can also like and bookmark individual pieces. Recently uploaded work appears on the homepage with an excerpt and a link to the full piece. Additionally, writers receive a weekly email update about recent activity on the site.
In the future, Nayia hopes to encourage more interaction between writers both on and offline. Writer’s Bloq keeps a regularly updated calendar of literary readings and events in New York City. On May 3, they will host their first event, Unsolicited: An MFA Mingle at The Strand. The top rated writers on the Bloq will read in the Rare Book Room and have the opportunity to mingle with fellow writers, fans and literary professionals. Check back soon for Untapped’s review of Unsolicited.
Unsolicited: An MFA Mingle
Thursday, May 3 @ 6:30 pm
New York, NY 10003
Get in touch with the author @lauraitzkowitz