Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Writers With Day Jobs: Vic Watson

From all the way across the pond, as they say, I welcome Vic Watson. She is among the new crop of U.K. writer who seem to be storming our shores of late. But what does she do for the filthy lucre in between writing stories like the ones in her collection, Letting Go

Let's find out, shall we?

What do you do as your day job?
I’ve been a jack of many trades. At the moment I work in the insurance industry, dealing with customers. 

When do you find time to write?
Due to a health condition, I’m only working 20 hours a week for now. I used to work full-time but I had to reduce my hours. I have to admit I still struggle to find time to write. With working, medical appointments, day-to-day life and so on, I usually write when my partner is at work or in the evening. I’m not very disciplined though. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, as well as maintaining my blog and reviewing other people’s work. 

Has your job or coworkers ever influenced a story?
I wouldn’t say any of my stories are directly influenced by people or situations I’ve experienced. However, I think most writers would agree that they may use a facet of someone’s personality or particular circumstances in a story. The beginning of ‘I Should Have Seen it Coming’ (which is available in my collection of short stories ‘Letting Go’) was influenced by my time working in a banking call centre when it was announced that they were moving operations to India. That’s where the idea for Carol’s story came from. 

What would it take for you to quit and write full time?
I’d love to write full-time. As long as I earned a living wage – nothing flash – I’d be happy to write full-time. Writing full-time is my dream job. 

Do your coworkers know you write? Do they know you write dark crime fiction? What do they say about it?
The first thing my co-workers ever knew about my writing was when I released ‘Letting Go’ and emailed everyone on the team the link to my work. That afternoon, two or three of them sat reading the free sample and were really shocked at how different my stories were to what they were probably expecting. I’m generally a happy, bubbly person so I think the fact that I write about things like crime, suicide and some shady characters gave them a surprise! 

Do you think people respect writing as a job, or does it come off as less "work" than a labor or office job?
I think most people see it as a hobby. I know some people think because I do it, they’d be able to do it but until you actually try and write, you have no idea how difficult it is. One of the many joys of writing is that you can do it at your own pace, when it’s convenient to you. Plus you’re doing something you really want to do so to me, it’s definitely not as hard as working a job that you’re not as passionate about. However, that’s not to say you have to put any less effort into writing – if anything it requires more time and dedication. 

Be honest, if you wrote full time, do you think you'd be disciplined about it?
I like to think so but I can be a bit of a flibberty-gibbert where my writing’s concerned. If it was my sole income, I think I’d realise how important it was to be disciplined. At the moment, I think I’m not as hard on myself as it’s not my main source of income and I can use my main job as an excuse not to write – “I’ve had a really hard day. I’m tired, etc, etc.”

What job, other than writing, would you most like to have?
Does Lotto winner count? If not, I’d love to have a career teaching or lecturing. I’d either like to teach English as a Foreign Language or Creative Writing. That said, I wouldn’t mind being a proof reader or full-time reviewer. 

What has been your best job? Your worst?
I think all of the jobs I’ve had have been useful in one way or another. However, I have to say I loved working in the Jobcentre. It was where I met the love of my life (he was a member of staff too) and I met some great friends there too. There was also a wealth of characters and stories coming through the door every single day. I left that job to pursue my dream of becoming a journalist only to realise, four weeks into the training, that I didn’t have the gall to be a journalist. I couldn’t handle the thought of door-stepping grieving families or writing stories that could potentially ruin someone’s life. Realising I wasn’t cut out to be a journalist was the worst time, professionally, ever. The realisation of what I’d given up to follow that dream only compounded my sense of failure and sheer desperation. 

When do you find time to read?
You will never find me without a book or my Kindle. I will read whenever I get a spare minute. I read at my desk while I’m on my break, I read in the bath, I read in bed and any other times I have a bit of free time. If I’m in a waiting room or I’m waiting in a café to meet someone, I will dig out my book. I couldn’t live without reading. 

Have you ever, or maybe how often, have you considered quitting and shacking up to write novels, money issues be damned?
I think about it every day! But, like all of the other writers out there, I have financial commitments. I dream every day about living in a little beach house overseas, where I sit on my patio every day and write, in amongst taking walks and sampling the culture. I also dream about living in deepest Northumberland where I can sit, completely isolated and write. Sadly, at the moment, it’s just a dream but maybe one day I can make it reality. 

What is your ultimate goal with writing? Full time journeyman or millionaire? 
Or are you satisfied doing it part time?
I’d love to be a massive success story but likewise, as I’ve said earlier, if I could make enough money to live on – that would make me super happy. For now, I understand that by writing part-time, it might be a stepping stone to something more full-time. You have to do the ground work, right? 

Given what you've earned writing, dividing it by the hours spent, what would you say is your hourly wage as a writer?
At the moment, less than 1p a day. But it’s fine. I’m all about honing my craft and making some good connections. I may not have made very much money at all but I have met a great community of writers who are really supportive. I don’t see writing to be all about money – it’s about an expression of who you are, it’s an exploration of the characters and the stories you create and it’s about making connections with like-minded people. 

Do you have a spouse/partner that would support you writing full time?
My partner is entirely supportive. I think he’s still hoping that one day I’ll be the bread winner! In all seriousness, though, he’s very supportive and he understands my dream to be a full-time writer. He’s also a realist so he understands that, even if I were to become successful, he shouldn’t expect a Ferrari for Christmas! 

Thanks to Vic for stopping by. Check out her work with the I Am Woman campaign.

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