• Farewell, Austin

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 19 comments
    Oct
    17

    This will probably be a lengthy goodbye post, so for those of you in a tl;dr kinda mood, here’s the logline: Effective Monday, November 11th, the WriteByNight writing center will close and its proprietors (i.e., Justine and I) will relocate out of state. For you current clients, nothing will change—we will continue providing you our signature one-on-one writers’ services. You and your wonderful writing coach/consultant will continue to meet as scheduled, and all will be business as usual.

    If you’re currently considering signing up for services, we encourage you to do so! The only change here is that we will no longer have an open-to-the-public location. Whether you live in Austin, Texas or Istanbul, Turkey, we will deliver our writers’ services in the same manner as we do now: in-person for those of you in the same geographical area as a WBN coach/consultant; remotely via phone and Skype for those of you in other areas.

    And thank you Austin for being so good to us. We will miss you.

    End tl;dr summary. Commence maudlin farewell.

    We came to Austin three years ago as a nascent little writing workshop with the starry-eyed goal of opening a writing center, a place where the city’s creatives could gather in a coffeeshop environment without coffeeshop prices. (Or any prices at all.) The first time we walked through the doors here at 1305 East 6th #4, we knew we’d found the right place at the right time in the right neighborhood in the right city.

    What we didn’t know immediately was how best to lay out the joint. Remember this?

    Workshop From Kitchen

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    WriteByNight Original Layout 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It will come as no surprise that it took many months for word to spread and for people to realize that we weren’t joking. Here’s a typical conversation from our early years:

    Kindly passerby: “What is this place?”

    WriteByNight: “We’re a writing center. Three times a week we open up for writers to come in and hang out together, and/or get work done in peace and quiet. We offer coffee, snacks and WiFi.”

    KP: “How much does it cost me?”

    WBN: “Nothing.”

    KP: “Oh. Welp, creating that kind of business model takes a special kind of fool. Bye bye!”

    WBN: “…”

    But we caught on! And during the three years since, many hundreds of you have walked through our doors to grind out your wonderful poetry and prose, to meet other local crazies writers, and to attend our workshops, seminars and (often out-of-control) parties. The annual Austin Writers Loft Party was always a special kind of doozy—our first year we counted over 115 writers crammed into this crib. Buying only one keg of beer was a miserable idea; we learned, yet again, that writers and booze go together like … other groups of people and booze. But even more so.

    And we’ve loved every moment. Even the quirky ones. Especially the quirky ones. Like the time one of you broke into our bathroom and stole a bunch of designer soaps. (You know who you are, weirdo.) Or the time two of you, in your Halloween costumes, were … let’s just say putting the “love” in (our) loveseat, and [local writer’s name redacted] started throwing Pringles at you, and you kept right on sucking face through the salty barrage. Then there’s the time Stephen Tobolowsky dropped in to party with all of us, and I ended up (unintentionally) bumping my ass into his wife’s drink, and then hitting her with the refrigerator door. The Tobolowskys have not returned.

    That was the same night we had a bartender who at closing time started giving away full bottles of hooch. On the one hand, yes please. On the other, why couldn’t 100+ writers that night manage to drink his stock dry? Shameful.

    Though we did put a pretty solid dent in this:

    99 Cases of Beer on the Wall

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’d like to say we’ll do better next time, but alas, there will be no next times for us here in Austin. Due to a multitude of circumstances, some within and some outside of our control, Justine and I are moving to [Note: brace yourselves] [Note to self: brace self] New York City.

    (New York City?! Get a rope.)

    We will not be operating a writing center in New York: there are already far too many cooks in that nerdy kitchen. Providing our writers’ services will become our sole focus. That, and staying alive dodging rats (complete this line with your own lame NYC-related joke in the comments below. Funniest one wins … something. Probably a whole mess o’ books).

    To that end, those of you who are already working one-on-one with us have already received email notification of our pending move with all of the pertinent details. But to summarize: nothing will change for you. Whether you live in Austin or not, the coaches and consultants you’ve been working with will continue to be available to you, and in all of the same ways. The only difference between WBN-Austin and WBN-NYC is that we will no longer have a physical writing center. And that the pizza we eat will be greasier, and laden with cheese and rodent feces. And that we’ll be paying state taxes to help regulate those establishments. (Is that how state taxes work? We’ve forgotten.)

    The literary scene here in Austin is thriving, and we urge you to continue to be part of it. So keep attending reading/performance series like Five Things and the Encyclopedia Show. Take a Badgerdog workshop. Enter the annual Pun Off or enroll in our next In Short Workshop (which we’ll continue to hold), both at the beautiful O. Henry House. Schmooze at networking events like Deadliners or the Professional Writers of Austin. Join a critique group like the Austin Writers, who we’ve been happy to host for the past several years. Check out new offerings from cool local mags and presses like antibookclub, A Strange Object, American Short Fiction and Bat City Review. Stay up to date on literary events through the Austin Chronicle’s weekly Litera calendar.

    And then tell us about your experiences, because we’ll have to live vicariously through you. And we don’t want to lose touch with y’all. We don’t even want to stop saying “y’all.”

    Our website and our social media channels will stay the same. Keep us up to speed on the Twitters and the Facebooks, and keep up to speed on our doings by joining our mailing list (right sidebar). And next time you’re in NYC, drop us a line.

    But before that, come say goodbye. Between now and November 11th, our open hours will continue as scheduled. (And for you bibliophiles, we’ll be having a WBN library fire sale during our remaining open hours.)

    Wayne Alan Brenner in this Chronicle piece wrote that WriteByNight is “a sort of tiny belles-lettres haven.” Another friend once described WBN as a “clubhouse for writers.” This is exactly how we’d like to be remembered.

    Austinites, we thank all of you for sharing your time and your words with us.

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    J. Sommers

    My daily routine:

    Wake up
    Go back to bed
    Wake up again
    Waste oodles of time at home
    Think to myself, “I should really be at WriteByNight, writing.”
    Waste oodles of time at home
    Go to bed

    Now what am I supposed to do?

    J. Sommers

    But in serious, best of luck. You’ve been an asset. But thanks for all the tips on the local lit scene; I’ll have to check some of those out. Will you keep posting here?

    Carrie Winters

    Seconded. Good luck. Hope you have a guest room in N.Y.C.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    We most certainly will! Thanks for the kind words.

    Zach

    “That, and cooking on the stove while sitting on our toilet.”
    “That, and picking up smoking because… well, just because.”
    “That, and hating on New Jersey even more than usual.”
    Do I win tons of books?! ;)

    Now the big question: WHYYYY? Why are you moving? I love NYC, but why there?
    Hope to see you soon before you leave. Much love.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Oh, lots of reasons, both personal and professional. When it’s time, it’s time … and it’s time.

    Marcia Drut-Davis

    For anyone worried, I remember the feeling of utter dismay when I was told they were moving from Florida to Austin. Do not be worried. They are the kind of people who will stay connected, continue to guide and help using social media and phones. I now have a published book! Follow them wherever they go. It’s worth it. Best of luck dear Justine and David.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Thank you, Marcia! That’s very sweet and much appreciated.

    Bill Lain

    I never had the time to really meet you folks and I’ve never had the opportunity to make it to the main center simply due to the fact that I only found out about WBN just a few weeks ago. I’ve been going to the G Joe’s on Tuesday evenings, which has been a great experience and motivator, rekindling my desire to write by providing a place and an atmosphere where all we do is write and I thank you for that. I hope I can get by the center and personally thank you prior to your departure. I was… Read more »

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    We’ll definitely check it out, Bill, and will hope to see you in the next few weeks.

    P. L. Noonan

    As an Austin import from NYC, I can tell you that there are a lot of similarities between the two, more than you would think. Especially in various parts of Brooklyn.

    I never got the chance to come hang out over there, but I wish you guys luck. Seems like WbN was a cool place.

    J Stevenson

    Best wishes on your move. Good luck!

    Amber

    You guys provided me good shelter when I was finishing my novel two years ago. Thanks. I haven’t been back since, but I haven’t forgotten. Good luck. AL

    […] we announced last week that WriteByNight is leaving Austin, we figured that our next Micro Fiction Challenge should reference the move. And […]

    […] mess o’ of free books. Because, as most of you know by now, we’re closing up shop and leaving Austin and will likely be moving into a closet-sized apartment in NYC, and most of our books must go. To […]

    Martin Barkley

    Just knowing you two were down there on 6th Street made me feel good. I’ll miss you. Go find everything good up there in the Big Apple. I’ll send you a weird-ass story from time to time.

    Teresa

    So sorry to see you guys go. Thanks for everything you brought to Austin.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Thanks, guys. We’ll miss you!

    […] massive Lone Star State, Texas. As many of you likely know, WriteByNight, though born in Florida, grew up in Austin, and so we had the chance to work with and get to know many of the institutions, organizations and […]




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