The first of Cursor’s planned online communities opened to the public today. Red Lemonade provides a space online for writers to come together, post their work, receive feedback and attract the attention of agents, publishers and other writers. I like to think of it as an all-night writer’s workshop for forward-thinkers, populated by proven talent and eager students in a digital venue that transcends high gas prices and incongruous schedules. The site is currently peppered with sharp literary fiction and quite a bit of poetry from emerging artists, and open to any writers looking for a place to showcase or polish their stories.
Cursor’s founder, the maverick Richard Nash, has earned a reputation in the world of publishing as a risk-taker and visionary since his days running Soft Skull Press. In a blog post earlier today, Nash addressed the current state of publishing and the need for a community like Red Lemonade:
We have tended to speak of the model of publishing for the last hundred years as if it were a perfect one, but look at all the indie presses that arose in the last 20 years, publishing National Book Award winners, Pulitzer winners, Nobel winners. What happened to those books before? They weren’t published! They. Were. Not. Published. Sure, some were, but most? Nope. We cannot know how much magnificent culture went unpublished by the white men in tweed jackets who ran publishing for the past century but just because they did publish some great books doesn’t mean they didn’t ignore a great many more.
So we’re restoring the, we think, the natural balance of things the ecosystem of writing and reading. The writers read, the readers write.
The rest of Nash’s entry as a whole is inspiring, as much a call to action as an introduction to his newborn publishing house and webspace. It has been reproduced all over the internet where industry news sites have announced Red Lemonade’s official unveiling. Nash’s latest venture has set the publishing industry a-twitter, including a tweet earlier today by NPR Books.
I was fortunate enough to be allowed to test-drive the site during its beta over the last month. RedLemona.de has an attractive, minimalist presence that brings the authors and their works to the forefront. Finding an interesting story to read is as simple as glancing over the Library page and once there it was easy to comment on a work in progress or reply to previous critiques. Red Lemonade has an intuitive highlighting system that makes pointing out a specific passage as easy as passing a yellow marker across a piece of paper and without the annoying squeak.
With the doors wide open and Nash inviting everyone inside, it’s time for the world to see what Cursor has building for the past months. I encourage everyone to click through to the site and see the next step in publishing. This one looks to leave big prints behind.