Name: Frances McCue
College & Majors/Minors: English Major
Current Location: Seattle, WA
Current Form of Employment: writing, teaching, instigating.
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I have three streams to my work river: I write poems and prose which I publish in books and in magazines or journals. I am an Arts Instigator who helps individuals and organizations start or sustain creative projects. And my third stream is as a Senior Lecturer and the Writer in Residence in the University Honors Program at the University of Washington.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
When I was in high school I took a summer job cutting trails and doing a tree sampling project for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. I lived in the woods and took showers at Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural wonder. I got it through a family member. My first internship as a writer was actually as a “distribution manager.” I took literary magazines around San Francisco on my bike, delivering them to bookstores and coffee shops. I actually have never really had an actual job as a writer, but all of my teaching and administrative jobs have demanded that I write well.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I was the Founding Director of Richard Hugo House, a literary center in Seattle. A friend from college said, “Wow. You have a job running a place that brings in famous writers AND it has a bar? Sounds like a dream situation.” Truly.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I hosted a lot of parties. I was interested in bringing people from all different parts of campus, with all sorts of interests, together. I still do that!
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Look for new economic models for sustaining a life in literature and writing. In other words, skip applying for academic jobs and don’t bank on the novel becoming a best seller. Find work that relies on the THINKING and WRITING skills you’ve acquired, rather than the direct passage into the literature industry. Everything is changing; we’re all going “Adjunct.” And, if you know that, and you work it, you might find some great opportunities in piecing things together!