Virginia Watts' story, 'Emily', will open Dark Lane Anthology Vol.11. Her stories and poetry can be found in Illuminations, The Florida Review, CRAFT, Sunspot Literary Journal, and others. Her poetry chapbook, The Werewolves of Elk Creek, is published by Moonstone Press.
A: I have no specific schedule or location for writing and I don’t think about writing in terms of process or method. I am a bit superstitious that way. I try not to think about writing at all if you want the whole truth. Writing is something that happens to me more than anything else. What I do is when an idea arrives for a story or a poem, I sit down somewhere quiet and start in with immense gratitude and hope. I love every minute of the process from rough draft to critique editing to letting go of something knowing I have done the best I could for the idea that came to me. I have taken plenty of writing classes, workshops, and getaways but there is something about learning too much about the “craft” of writing that I battle against. It’s important for me to stay close to my gut and my heart as a writer.
Q:Tell us about one of your favourite short stories and why you like it (not one of your own).
A: This answer will surely elicit some groans
from memories of dreaded middle school summer reading assignments, but I have
to chose Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” I read this
story when I was young too and the thing is I have never forgotten it. I am
sure it was required school reading but there’s a reason the greats are the
greats. Hemingway is so direct and crystal clear in his characters and story
that you can’t look away from the courage of it all even when you long to. In Francis
Macomber we face our own human weakness and cowardice. What reader hasn’t
wondered. Maybe I would have run away from the lion too! And Margot his wife so
cruel and greedy and domineering. And of course,
Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories (written by you).
A: It is difficult to choose a favourite,
but I am proud of a short story entitled “The Bitterest Winter” which will
appear in a collection of short stories of mine that will be published by The
Devil’s Party Press in the spring of 2023. In this story, the narrator is a
young woman with a new baby girl. She lives in a high-rise apartment in the city
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Do you go looking for ideas – for example by brainstorming, or do you wait for inspiration?
My ideas come from all sorts of things
and sometimes I am not sure where they came from. I never brainstorm or use any
technique to drum up ideas to write about because that seems like it wouldn’t
be a “real idea” to me. Ideas that inspire my writing have come from past experiences,
news articles, tv shows, songs, things I see walking, things people say that I
overhear, thoughts I have in silent rooms. The story I mention above was written
after I visited my daughter in
Q:Are you a full-time writer? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time writer if you could?
A: I do consider myself a full-time writer of almost ten years and I feel very lucky to be able to say that. I am a lawyer by education. I have learned a lot in ten years mostly from the company of other writers who have read my work for me and given me theirs to read. You cannot be your best if you don’t have a critique group of some kind. At least, that is what I believe.
Q:What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
A: The tensest part for me is the rough draft because I am always hoping, just hoping, that I can take an idea all the way to the end. I never have an outline or a destination. I never know where I am going so, I just hope I find my way somewhere that matters. The other challenge is endings. I don’t want someone to read one of my stories or poems and get to the end and be let down or frustrated. That’s your last chance as a writer so you have to try very hard to get the ending as right as it can be.
Q:If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about becoming a writer?
A: I have been asked this before and the answer always makes me sad. I always loved to write. From the sixth grade. I wrote here and there throughout my life but not like I have recently where I have finally let myself become dedicated to this. So I would tell her to not wait for the future. Write whenever you can now no matter what else you have going on in your life.
Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed here. I am honoured and thrilled to have my story appear with those of the other authors in Dark Lane Anthology Volume 11!