By Kyle Palmer
When Jacob Lewis was growing up, he liked to write “really terrible Stephen King-like fiction stories.” Looking back on those early works, the former managing editor of The New Yorker said he’s glad they never saw the light of day. But for thousands of teenage writers across the country, Lewis has helped do the exact opposite.
The Web site Figment—founded by Lewis and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear in 2010—gives young writers a forum to freely publish their work. The site now boasts more than 220,000 registered users and has stocked a library of more than 350,000 individual pieces, ranging from reflective poetry to multi-chapter novellas.
“We really thought at first that it would be more of a social network site,” Lewis said. “But it has been all about project creation. The amount of new content our users produce is amazing.”
Lewis said Figment users post more than 1,000 new original pieces every week, many of them only a few hundred words representing a large range of genres, from heart-tugging romance to dystopian fantasy.
“It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there like they have,” Lewis said. “We knew there was a need for this, but we've been surprised at the passion and the ownership our users have shown.”
Similar to Facebook, Figment users—most of whom are between 13 and 24 years old—create a profile and upload their work, giving it a title and picking from a large selection of stock images to use as cover art. Other users can read the pieces online and leave comments and provide feedback.