I presently have two careers: I work part-time for Virgin Money as an Advertising Copywriter, running their in-house Copywriting team, and I am also a freelance creative writing tutor for, amongst others, The Poetry School and Poetry Anglia, as well as being a published poet. My first collection of poetry ‘Electric Shadow’ (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) received a recommendation from the Poetry Book Society and was also shortlisted for the 2012 Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry. These two occupations go nicely hand-in-hand. Working for Virgin is creative and demanding; I work with a lovely team of people, the benefits are good, and it pays the mortgage. My other professional writing work feeds into and off of it, and keeps me imaginatively satisfied.
At university I followed things I was passionate about – languages, ideas and writing – and this helped me to understand what I wanted my life to be about. Sometimes I wished I’d studied English at Stirling, but on reflection studying French gave me access to more writing in another language. This helped to build my confidence with my own writing, and extended my enjoyment of literature across another culture.
I initially approached Virgin about freelance writing work, and they offered me a permanent copywriting job, in addition they also paid for me to attend creative writing classes to improve my imaginative, narrative and critical skills for work. In turn these skills made me approach my own writing more professionally and start to take it seriously. ‘Professional writer’ is a tricky career path to navigate. I think you end up following it, wherever you start out, if it’s the force driving your life.