Why Riki Markowitz founded Professional Writers of Austin

Riki has radio face
In my humble opinion, I’ve got a face for radio. That’s part of the reason I decided to go into publishing. The other reason was default mode. In college (Temple University, Philadelphia), I was not what you’d call a stellar student. The only major that came easy to me – and easy was the only curriculum I could fit into my schedule of partying and underachieving – was English.

Little did I know that reading and writing was exactly what I was born to do.

Riki has words with New York City
I landed an internship at Philadelphia Magazine after graduation. Four years on I moved to New York where I started out as an editorial assistant at the now defunct Disney Adventures. From there, I climbed my way up the research/fact checking ladder, working on staff at Redbook, Stuff, Latina, and Family Circle before making the ballsiest move of all time – deciding that I would give freelance writing a try.

Riki gives freelance writing a try
The allure for me was that you could make more money, make your own hours and turn down jobs at magazines with a shipping schedule that ended at 3 a.m. The problem is, I decided to make that move on the cusp of the Great Recession, or, as I have referred to it on this platform before, The Great Magazine Genocide.

Riki gets to Austin as fast as she could
I’m an adventurer by nature: I’ve once left this country – post 9/11 – with an expired passport on my way to South Africa. I bravely ate bread from a baker’s cart on the “streets” of Fez in Morocco. When I knew it was time to sell my Brooklyn co-op, returning to my hometown of Philadelphia was the antonym of adventure.

So, on a hot day in August, 2009 a friend said I would like Austin. A day or two later I had a plane ticket to visit. I was here for four days.

By September 1, I was an Austin resident.

Riki establishes Professional Writers of Austin
I soon discovered that this is a city with so many writing opportunities but few ways of finding them. Networking and socializing was the only way I got jobs in New York and I’m hoping that will work for me, and you, too.

I also discovered that there are few cohesive, all-inclusive groups for writers here in Austin. In January 2011, I launched PWA on Meet-up.com and in September 2011, I got ambitious and relaunched it as an autonomous organization.

PWA’s goal is to develop an organization that gives the professional writing community a voice, a platform for their voice, and most importantly, a reason to get out of the house occasionally. It is only as good as the people who join it so please encourage your writing friends to become members. Don’t forget to tell them that membership is free .

Riki attracts an elite band of volunteers
Since the relaunch of Professional Writers of Austin, there has been a group of elite volunteers working on our website.  Our merry band is nowhere near capacity so if you have a skill – any skill – we want your help.

These are the people who are helping to shape the PWA adventure:

  • Justine Tal Goldberg, Owner of WriteByNight and Co-Founder of PWA: Justine is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories have appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, and other publications. Her journalistic work has appeared in the Texas Observer, Austin Monthly, and Publishing Perspectives, among others. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College. She owns and operates WriteByNight, a writing center and writers’ service, and official sponsor of PWA.
  • Carolyn Jones, PWA Blog Editor: Carolyn writes about parenting, health and lifestyle and is working on breaking into the corporate writing world too. She’s been published in the New York Times, the Austin American Statesman and is a writer for two Austin-based lifestyle mags. She has both a professional website and a blog, only one of which is serious.
  • Allison Floyd, PWA Assistant Website Editor: Allison documents the experience of being a newly minted Austinite at Schadenfreudiananalysis. Her sinister alter ego documents being a misanthropist in the kitchen at eatdrinkbesolitary. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in flashquake, The Iconoclast, and the Berkeley Daily Planet, among others.
  • Brian Huber, PWA Financial Consultant: Brian writes about finance topics for the blogs of several companies. His objective is partly search engine optimization but mostly he aims to conquer the challenge of simplifying and generating interest for investment, tax and small business subjects. He’s a firm believer that Austin is the best place for writers to enjoy living and he’s so grateful that the internet allows working as a writer in Austin.

Riki hopes to hear from you
If you have any comments, questions or brilliant ideas, please contact us.

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