Meet Dave Watson
Share some details about yourself, Dave. Tell us about your work, hobbies, and family.
After graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Illinois in 1989, my wife Sheila and I moved to southern Wisconsin so I could join a practice that specialized in dairy cows. For the past 21 years, I spend my days (and occasional late nights) traveling from farm to farm helping farmers with their cows.
We have two sons Nathan and Tristan. Our oldest son Nathan is preparing to leave home for his first year in college, so a few changes are headed for our household. We have two cats, a golden retriever and a plethora of aquariums containing a wide variety of tropical fish in our basement (one can never have enough aquariums).
Why did you decide to become a writer?
Interestingly, I was never a huge reader when I was growing up. I spent every waking hour discovering the wonders in the woods and creek behind our house, building tree houses and any other contraption I could dream up. Fortunately, my mom was mostly amenable to the creatures I brought home and the creative things I built in our yard.
In the last years of high school and throughout my years in college, I became interested in reading and writing. I took extra literature classes, writing classes, film appreciation classes anything I could fit into my schedule. However, during the first several years I was in practice, I had little time to pursue writing the stories I was always thinking about. 10 years ago I decided I couldn’t put off that creative urge any longer and started writing. I’ve been working on my stories ever since.
What kind of writing do you do? Fiction? Nonfiction?
I have a broad reading and writing interest. I love reading everything from picture books to adult novels. A few authors that have influenced me are Chris Van Allsburg, David Wiesner, Michael Ondaatje, Harper Lee, and Ian McEwan to name a few.
I’ve been working in the difficult-to-write short format of picture books. But I have also written several nonfiction articles for magazines and I have just completed the first draft of a YA novel.
Have you had anything published? If so, tell us about it.
Recently, I have started selling articles to an aquarium hobbyist trade magazine called Tropical Fish Hobbyist (TFH). It has a worldwide circulation and I was fortunate to have my first article featured on the cover of this year’s May edition. Also, I’ve published an article for a small botany journal.
Dave's article featured on the cover: "Breeding the Pajama Cardinalfish"
What projects are you working on now?
Having published with Tropical Fish Hobbyist has opened a few doors for future projects. I have an open invitation to submit other articles and they have taken interest in a longer book project of mine which introduces kids to aquarium keeping. Also, with the help of my editor at TFH, I’ve been in contact with a marine biologist who is assisting me to write an article for a children’s magazine showing the plight of an endangered reef fish. On top of all that I continue to work on my fiction.
What advice do you have for others who are trying to get published?
There are a couple of things I feel strongly about as an aspiring writer. First off, limit your time browsing online. The internet is a black hole for writing time. While I think it is a fantastic tool, try to avoid browsing during your most productive parts of the day. Writing should come first! I know how tempting it is to say you’ll just check email. But you find an interesting link and puff, 30 minutes have disappeared. I do my browsing and research at night when I’m less focused.
For me the path to publication has been a long journey. It’s been frustrating and at times elating. Taking solace in the little things that come along will help keep you in a positive frame of mind. Be glad when you get a nice note from an editor, an invitation to send more manuscripts or better yet, a request for revision. Celebrate finishing the rough draft of a manuscript or getting a passage of prose polished. For me, finding happiness in the process is the best part of writing.
Thanks so much for sharing your time and insights with us, Dave.
Do you know a writer with an interesting professional background?