Happy Sunday everyone! Hope everyone is having a good August (how is it August??). Today on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome back Victoria Watson. She’s visited before, to talk about Noir At The Bar amongst other things, but today, we’re focusing on her own writing…
When did you first realise that writing was the world for you?
Great question! I don’t know to be honest, I’ve always loved books and reading and I kind of feel like writing was always ‘my thing’. When I was a teenager, I kept a tragic diary for a while – less Bridget Jones, more Adrian Mole (although not as entertaining) – and even prior to that, I always had a vivid imagination. I used to fold my A4 paper into quarters and create ‘books’. My illustrations were terrible, though. My first proper foray into writing was when I started writing pastiches for a Newcastle United fanzine when I was a teenager although I didn’t know the name for a pastiche then. When I turned 18, though, life got in the way of writing and I didn’t write for several years. It was only when I was coming towards the end of my first degree that I felt the desire to write again. Luckily, I was accepted onto a local paper’s Young Reviewer scheme and that really fuelled my love of writing. Within months, I’d applied and been accepted onto a Creative Writing Masters course at Northumbria Uni. I guess, really, that year was when I realised that it was a world I could be a part of. Since then, I’ve won awards for both fiction and non-fiction, been the official blogger for Whitley Bay Film Festival, started running creative writing classes and read my work in the UK and overseas.
Do you remember the first piece you wrote? Do you still have it?
I still have all of the issues of True Faith that featured my work although I can’t actually remember the first article I wrote for them. I feel rather ashamed saying that – I shall have to hunt it out! I do have a scrapbook of all the articles I wrote when I was on the Young Reviewer scheme. Sadly my Whitley Bay Film Festival articles have been lost due to a technical hitch.
What about your first published piece?
I’ve been very fortunate that a lot of my work, including when I was just starting out, has been published. My short stories have been published in anthologies as well as being available on Kindle.
I know you won North Tyneside’s Story Tyne competition – what did you gain from that experience? And where can we find your winning tale?
I think Story Tyne – and Young Reviewer of the Year – gave me some external validation. It’s all very well your friends telling you that they like your writing but they’re your friends and they’re lovely. Having a professional writer who I admired – Mari Hannah – deem my story to be the best in the competition that year was a great boost. ‘The Piano’ is available to download from Amazon now: http://amzn.to/2whpLAv
Where else can we find your work?
I’m responsible for two Creative Writing workshops every week in Newcastle and North Tyneside so you can see me with my facilitator hat on there. You can find more information about the groups on my website. I also run the Newcastle leg of Noir at the Bar every quarter so you can see me presenting them. You can check out my Amazon author page here. I run my blog which features author interviews and book reviews mainly.
Has proofreading other peoples’ work ever made you aware of something you need to watch in your own work?
Proofreading someone else’s work is an interesting activity but, to be honest, as a writer you can often see things as you intended them rather than what you’ve actually written. I think anyone can miss errors in their own work. I would still ask someone else to look at mine before sending it anywhere.
What are you working on at the moment (and where / when can we hear / read it!)?
I am still working on my novel, Fix Me Up. I’ve been working on this for several years now but in the last eleven months I have made a lot of progress. I’m trying to take the stance that it’s a marathon, not a sprint so just chipping away at it. I’ve done quite a few readings of it over this past year and I’ve had great feedback so that’s really spurred me on. I really do hope to have a completed manuscript by the end of the year (although I said that last year and failed miserably!). My friend and I set each other a weekly target of 500 words. That might seem like a tiny amount but we had been trying to do 1000 words a day which was not manageable considering we also work in addition to writing. We found we were getting so demoralised that we would neglect our writing for ages, knowing we’d fail. Since setting a small target, I manage to surpass it most weeks which is a great boost.
Are there any other writing plans you can tell us about?
I’m running a writing retreat at St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay on Sunday, 20th August. It’s a stranding retreat so we will be cut off from the mainland, leaving us with nothing to do but write. There are a few spaces still available so drop me an email if you’d like more information. I’ve had a few requests to set up a residential retreat too so that’s something that I hope to do in the future, if I can find a suitable location. Having dragged my husband to Newcastle Noir this year to watch a panel I was on, he and I started chatting about an idea for a crime novel in the style of the golden age crime writers so we’re excited to start that but I need to finish Fix Me Up first!