• WriteByNight Turns 10!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 59 comments

    Discussion questions: It’s WriteByNight’s ten-year anniversary this week! So we’re going to celebrate ourselves. As for discussion questions: What do you see, or what would you like to see, in WriteByNight’s future? Is there anything we don’t yet offer that you think might be helpful? What can we do to enrich your writing life? Let us know in the comments. Or if you’d like to share a favorite WriteByNight memory from the past ten years, we’d love to hear about it!


    Here’s a story.

    Palm City, Florida. Outside, it’s 93 degrees and suffocating in the typical Florida-in-August way. But inside, cool stuff is happening — a recent MFA graduate files a new business with the state of Florida.

    It’s a writing workshop she and her boyfriend have created, mostly on a whim. After discarding some ridiculous names — Composite Monster? Exquisite Corpse? Wanderjahr? — they’ve landed on something that reflects the ways in which a writer must work around the responsibilities and obligations of daily life.

    WriteByNight is born August 28, 2009.

    Almost five years to that day, the writing workshop’s co-founders get hitched.

    Almost five years to that day, we’re writing this post to celebrate our ten-year business anniversary.

    Labor Day weekend is always a big one for us, a celebration of two milestones. But this one, the ten-business/five-wedding anniversary, feels especially noteworthy.

    In last week’s “Ask Us Anything” post (still open for questions, by the way), a few of you posed questions about WBN’s founding. When we googled “ten year business anniversary,” many of the results suggested publishing a company timeline.

    So, here’s our answer:


    September 2006: Justine and David begin an MFA in creative writing at Boston’s Emerson College

    Justine has just finished her undergrad and David is about eighteen months removed from getting his own, at the tender age of twenty-seven. Justine is eager to continue to pursue her writing career; David is eager just to live in Boston.

    For two months we live in ignorance of each other.


    Late October 2006: Justine and David meet at a department party at the now-defunct Kennedy’s on Province Street

    David is outside smoking a cigarette with his friend, Mike (note the commas), and feeling really cool in his leather jacket, leaning against Kennedy’s exterior wall.

    Justine approaches and Mike makes introductions. Justine waits a moment to see if David might have anything interesting to say… or anything to say at all. When it becomes clear he doesn’t, she shrugs and goes inside.

    Both of us are oblivious to the fact that we’ve just experienced one of the most significant moments of our lives.


    January-May 2007: Justine and David take a workshop together

    By this time we’ve fallen into the same social circle, but taking a class together accelerates the friendship. We admire each other’s writing, and, with our friends, bond over beers after (and often before) (and sometimes during) class.

    And, over the fifteen-minute class recess, we smoke cigarettes together in a filthy back alley — where, six years later, David will propose marriage (without dropping to a knee, because, gross).

    On that spot now stands an Emerson dorm. Pour one out for filthy back alleys.


    November 30, 2007: Justine promises to bake a cake for David’s 30th birthday, and then doesn’t

    No further comment at this time.


    March or May (depending on who you ask), 2008: Justine and David get together

    And begin to make jokes about running a writing center together someday. Justine decides it’ll be called the JGDDWC, the Justine Goldberg/David Duhr Writing Center. David prefers DDJGWC. Both of us dig our heels in.


    May 2009: Justine receives her MFA from Emerson

    Did we forget to mention that David had dropped out two years earlier?


    June 2009: Justine and David move to Stuart/Palm City, FL

    Justine’s parents have a vacation house in the area and offer to let us stay rent-free so we can save money, which is in short supply at the time.

    Yes, we move to Florida for the summer. Nobody ever said we were geniuses.


    August 28, 2009: Justine and David found WriteBynight

    After leaving Boston and its daily offerings of readings, conferences, and other literary events, we’re starved for such activities in Stuart. No local groups fit our needs. So? We decide to start one of our own.

    All by ourselves we create a logo and a slogan and a website, all of which are now defunct but were not bad at all for a couple of beginners, if we do say so ourselves.

    We team up with the Arts Council of Martin County to offer an eight-week, ten-seat workshop starting in October, and then buy a vendor table at the Stuart Farmers Market to lure in unsuspecting writers.


    September 2009: We hook one!

    One Saturday a woman stops by to ask us more about the workshop. She tells us about the writing project she has in mind and grows more and more excited as we talk. Finally she says, “My birthday is coming up!” and then disappears back into the crowd.

    Moments later she returns with her husband, who writes us a check on the spot to secure a seat for his wife, WriteByNight’s very first customer.

    Four years later, that first customer, Marcia Drut-Davis, will publish the book she started writing in the workshop.

    Marcia is now working with WBN to complete her follow-up. Stay tuned for publication details. It’s pretty awesome.


    October 2009: Justine and David run WBN’s first workshop as co-instructors

    All ten seats are filled by aspiring writers (see photo at top), all of whom produce memorable work, and many of whom we’re still in touch with today.


    Spring/Summer 2010: Justine and David run more workshops at the Arts Council and hire instructors to run even more workshops in nearby towns

    Is this really happening? It has all the makings of a writing workshop empire!


    Spring/Summer 2010: Justine and David also begin offering limited one-on-one services

    Folks in our workshops start inquiring about how they can get more focused help, individual attention on their writing, so we offer a critique here, a line edit there. We begin to build services based on what writers ask for, what you tell us you need.

    Wait, we think. Is this becoming an actual thing?


    July 2010: Justine and David move to Austin into a two-floor loft, the downstairs of which becomes the WriteByNight Writing Center

    And then we open the upstairs, too, except for our little eight-by-eight-foot bedroom. We begin hosting regular open hours, which we call Write Here, where locals can come in and write and/or read in a quiet environment, enjoy free snacks and coffee, and, if they wish (wink wink), learn more about WriteByNight’s new one-on-one services, which we’re busily developing.

    Yes, we move to Austin in the summer. Nobody ever said we were geniuses.




    We begin to hire some amazing writing coaches and consultants to work one-on-one with writers to offer our rapidly expanding services

    Including some who are still with us today. Special shout-out to Nick Courtright, Nick Jarvis, and Cecily Sailer.


    WriteByNight becomes a local (literary-) household name and party spot

    We host a launch party for American Short Fiction, which includes live music in our building’s parking lot, for which we somehow aren’t evicted.

    We host a going-away party for Austin writer Amelia Gray, about which we remember very little, except that it was super fun and there was plenty of drink available.

    We host a Texas Book Festival afterparty. Stephen Tobolowsky and Chris Elliott are there, sparking rumors Bill Murray might show up for a Groundhog Day reunion. David opens the refrigerator door into Ann Hearn’s face and spills her drink. Not his finest moment.


    June 2011: Justine brings WriteByNight international attention by finding some of David Foster Wallace’s childhood poetry

    For a story at the Texas Observer, unfortunately titled, unbeknownst to Justine at the time, “Archived Soul,” Justine paws through DFW’s archives at UT-Austin and finds a childhood poem, which we then reprint on our blog. The story is picked up on by the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the Guardian, and dozens of others.


    2012: WriteByNight is named Best Writer’s Resource in Austin by the Austin Chronicle, a category they invent just for us 

    Writing “takes tons of support,” the popular alt. weekly writes, “and WriteByNight provides just that. The writing center has a chilled-out, coffeehouse vibe, with tons of desk space, creative writing workshops, roundtable readings, as well as manuscript consultation and coaching. It’s a great place to meet other local writers.”


    January 2014: WBN relocates to NYC

    After a (not ever close to happening, really) deal falls through to buy two buildings on the edge of downtown and turn it into a whole big writing compound, Justine and David, citing a desire for it to not be 100 degrees every single day and ever-rising rents in East Austin, make the difficult decision to move to New York City. As if rent prices there make any more sense.

    We work out of our apartment and become entirely the one-on-one writers’ service you know and love today.


    August 30/31 2014: Justine and David get married

    And who performs the ceremony but Mike… the friend who introduced us eight years earlier.


    2015-2019: We keep on keeping on

    It isn’t always easy. In 2016, business tumbles and we’re thisclose to shutting down. “You mean you’ll have to find real jobs?” certain friends and family ask. Those of you who run your own business are painfully familiar with this question.

    And it isn’t always fun. Like the time our website is hacked and, for several hours, displays only Romanian pornography. (Well, OK, that was kinda fun.) Or the time in 2018 when a random spring Nor’easter caves in our apartment/office’s roof and we have to move yet again.

    But it is always fulfilling. We’re still adding new one-on-one services, our list of free resources continues to grow, and our growing team of talented coaches and consultants delivers the highest quality services to all you writers out there.

    By now we’ve helped thousands of writers work toward achieving their literary goals. We have entire bookshelves displaying dozens of the published books our clients have written with WriteByNight’s help.

    One of them, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, is soon to be a major motion picture. WriteByNight on the big screen?! We’re still waiting for word about our cameos.


    August 28, 2019: WriteByNight’s ten-year anniversary

    People often ask us about our favorite part of running WriteByNight. Here’s what we each have to say.

    David: Mine is interacting every week with you all in our weekly email messages and these blog posts. Not only do you give me a public space to work through whatever topics are occupying my mind, but by sharing your own thoughts you often help me see the thing more clearly. For many years, our blog was a deserted space in a lonely, dusty corner of the internet, and I felt like I was hollering into a void. Which made it feel like a chore. Now, because of you, it’s a pleasure.

    Justine: I love talking to writers in our free consultations, hearing what they’re working on – or dreaming of working on – and what’s holding them back. We dig in and figure out together how to move forward. Sometimes it’s as simple as a quick craft fix. Sometimes it’s helping a writer find the courage not to give up. And you don’t give up! You WriteByNighters are downright inspiring.


    2020-????: WriteByNight continues to grow

    And so do we. Justine is now months away from going into part-time private practice as a psychotherapist, after four years of intense hard work in psychoanalytic training.

    David is mere days weeks months years away from finishing a novel. Which will then no doubt become a major motion picture of its own.

    And maybe, just maybe, WriteByNight will someday become a writing center again. After all, anytime we walk past a vacant storefront — and in our neighborhood, there are dozens of them — we point to it and say, “Future WriteByNight.”

    And then we’ll grow into a chain of writing centers. Worldwide. WBN-Paris? WBN-Barcelona? WBN-Buenos Aires? WBN-Lagos?

    Why not?


    We want to say thank you for sharing your words with us, and trusting us with them, for the past decade. And for letting us give this space over to a celebration of ourselves this week!

    What do you see, or what would you like to see, in WriteByNight’s future? Is there anything we don’t yet offer that you think might be helpful? What can we do to enrich your writing life? Let us know below.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight owner Justine Duhr is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey IslandFringe MagazineThe Review Review, and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing and has provided writing instruction at Vassar College and Emerson College.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Barbara Mealer

    I have no idea of where to tell you to go in the future. What I do know is that I enjoy these blogs and the resulting conversations. I’ll admit to opening very little of my email. I’m on a lot of lists, but the problem is the constant sales with nothing else in them. (How is the world do they write a book a month, edit it and get covers for them?)

    Anyway, you guys are awesome.

    Justine Duhr

    Thank you for being such a loyal WriteByNighter, Barbara! We couldn’t do it without you.


    I stumbled upon WriteByNight, probably around 2010, when I did a Google search for local writing resources in Mississippi (where I lived at the time). The search turned up WBN, hitting the site’s local resources page. I quickly realized this was a business based in Austin, TX, but I was fascinated with the idea of a writers service, so I perused the site and began to follow its blog. I didn’t interact, however, until one of David’s blog posts struck a resonant note with a discussion question asking whether we wrote on the job, did we try to hide it,… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    This is exactly the kind of story that makes this work worthwhile. Thank you for sharing and for churning out all those beautiful words.

    Steve Adams

    Love you guys! Happy anniversary (next Weds)! So glad I got to be part of your journey. Long may you run. Viva WriteByNight!

    Steve Adams

    Miss y’all too! The Parlour is still there? Well I’m glad to hear that.

    Justine Duhr

    We’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you, Steve. You helped lots of WriteByNighters as a coach and consultant with us, and they’re grateful, too!

    frances hill

    Happy Anniversary! May the next ten be just as much fun!

    Justine Duhr

    Here’s to the next decade!

    Sarah L

    Cool if you guys did online workshops or something, like on Skyp. Get back to your roots. Other than that it seems like you have the bases covered. Happy tenth! Congrats, and here’ to ten more.

    Justine Duhr

    It’s great to know that you’d be interested in Skype workshops, Sarah. Is that much more attractive to you than Skype coaching? If so, why? Thanks in advance for your feedback!

    April Hammond

    Congrats, guys! I used to go to Write here, and always appreciated the space. Congrats on 10 years, and come back!

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks a million, April. We do miss Write Here. It was a special thing.


    Awwww, what a cute couple. Congratulations on your successes, kids! Funny how life works, eh? It’s been great getting to know you through this, and knowing there are people out there that have the same fear and awe about writing is everything. Keep on keeping on. It’s working!

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks, E! For sure, we’re all in this writing boat together, navigating the storm.


    Happy 10th year anniversary! I can’t believe it has been that long. I was a participant in that first group! I was so nervous and so excited! Grateful for the experience and for meeting you guys! Best wishes in your future endeavors!

    Justine Duhr

    Georgette, one of the original WriteByNighters! Wonderful to hear from you. You know what? We were nervous and excited, too, but you guys made the experience a sheer pleasure.

    I hope you’re still writing… I’m gonna shoot you an email to hear all about it.

    adrienne leslie

    Happy 10th! traditionally a 10-year gift is tin or aluminum–but before you scoff, they mean durability & flexibility. That’s part of your story too. Like Ray, I found you while searching for something else, and couldn’t be happier.
    Stay terrific–adl

    Justine Duhr

    We’re so glad you found us, Adrienne, and thank you for this lovely comment.


    What should WriteByNight offer in terms of services, in the future. I think that’s obvious: 1) Psychotherapy 2) Cake.


    And cake isn’t always dissimilar from psychotherapy.

    Justine Duhr

    Wait, do we not already offer psychotherapy and cake? I think I need to call my clients…


    It was nice reading how you guys met and the interests you both share with one another. It sounds as if you are doing what you love and it is nice for me to be a part of the writing experience. I am finishing writing my first book, and have an editor for that book. It was guaranteed publication due to the subject matter. Sexual abuse: Not a pretty topic. In addition, I hope to some day be a better writer and perhaps if I carve out time to write every day, I will improve. Thanks so much for allowing… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    How exciting that you have publication in your sights! We’re here to help in whatever way you need us, Brigitte, to support you through the writing process and beyond. Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out.

    Jennifer Pommer

    Sorry to drop out of the upcoming workshop (I don’t think it was at the right time for me) but THANKS for the incentive it gave me. I’ve been doing more research and have decided how to move forward. Could you provide editing for people with works in progress? Thanks for your weekly emails; I’ve only responded to one or two, and hope to answer with increasing frequency :).

    Justine Duhr

    Hi there, Jenny. I’d be happy to schedule a time to chat about your manuscript and how we can help, via editing, coaching or otherwise. Just let me know if you’re interested and we’ll make a plan!

    david lemke

    I feel that what you guys have is very rare. I’m honored to be a small part of it. I’ve never been able to make a business work. I applaud you guys for doing it.

    Justine Duhr

    We appreciate that a great deal, Dave. Thank you for this lovely comment and for being part of our little community.


    What is the funniest experience you guys have with a writer?

    Justine Duhr

    Funniest, I’m not sure, but I do try to laugh with writers because I think it’s important to find levity in this work that often feels so heavy. Ousmane, you and I have done some laughing together, for sure!

    Ousmane Toure

    Happy Anniversary! I hope that it may last forever. I was lucky to stumble on Writers by Night. Thank you for sharing about your life and evolution as it takes courage and determination to reach your goals. Nice pic too you guys looks like a Hollywood couple! I just want to reiterate my thanks to you guys. It has been an long journey but with your help and support and an amazing coach, my dream will become reality one day. Despite the clouds of doubts, the wave of insecurity, the constant questions that keep invading my mind, I do believe… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    It’s a joy to work with you, Ousmane, because you’re so enthusiastic about writing and dedicated to the craft. I’m so glad you found us all those years ago (four to be exact!) and excited to see where your creative work takes you.

    Nate St. Pierre

    Wow, ten years already . . . happy anniversaries! Impressive. Two of my memories, one fond and one hellish: Hellish – Austin in the summer, wow. The only considerable time I spent there was the near-week you two let me crash at the WBN space, which was very generous, but the outside burned my face off and I’ve not been back to Austin since. Fond – Just last night my cousin was over to see my new place in Denver, and I took “The Periodic Table” down from its place of honor on the fireplace mantel, explained how it was… Read more »

    Nate St. Pierre

    I didn’t get an email notification that you replied to me here, but we cleared it up over text. And yes, you did kick yourself.

    I’m sure I never farted once in your place of business . . . why would I need to, with that ridiculous bathroom right in the middle of the workspace?

    Wow, you’re right – that *was* March. And all I remember are the hottest days ever. Remind me never to go to Austin during the “real” summer.

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks a million, Nate. That was a fun week in Austin, burning face notwithstanding.

    Hans De Leo

    Congratulations on 10 years. When you started I had just joined a weekly critique group in Albuquerque. That was when I really started to learn how to write. ’09 is also the year I spent 8 months on unemployment. It was tempting to take what I had and publish it for the extra income. I didn’t because I realized it was nowhere near ready. It was fairly recently that I began following WBN. (It’s been 1 or 2 years if I remember correctly). It’s interesting to hear what other writers go through and how they handle what we all face.… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks so much, Hans. Please do let us know if we can help to send your second book out into the world!

    José Skinner

    Congrats! You offer a great service. Hey, if you miss the heat, the traffic, and the overpriced housing, come on back to Austin!

    José Skinner

    Yes, if Stupid is reelected. No idle threat!

    Justine Duhr

    Jose, what a treat! We miss hanging out with you at the writing center.

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