Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day in the Life of... Emma Raveling!


Welcome to Stitch Read Cook's weekly feature!!

A Day in the Life of..

This is where us bloggers & fans get a glimpse inside the days of our favorite authors!

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Emma Raveling is a fantasy author who leads a slightly eccentric life traveling throughout the world with her accommodating husband and charming, neurotic dog.

Hopelessly addicted to coffee and diet coke, she
has a strange love of spreadsheets and organizational tools because they give her the illusion that she is somehow in control of the chaos that is her life. A dedicated practitioner of vipassana meditation, Emma loves to cook and often spends time scouring the Internet for new recipes. She adores beautiful art such as painting and sculpture, classical music, lyrical writing, and great graphic design.

Whirl is her debut book. She is currently busy at work writing Billow, the second installment of the Ondine Quartet series.

A Day in the Life of Emma Raveling

An author’s work is born from the stories they create in their head. While those stories may be exciting, romantic, adventurous, thrilling, and even dangerous, those factors do not necessarily translate into an author’s everyday life. My days are extremely unglamorous, with most of it spent inside my own head exploring the fantasy realm I’ve constructed.

The type of day I have does change depending on whether I’m in the writing or revising/publishing part of the process. I’m currently in the middle of writing my latest WIP (work-in-progress), Billow (Book 2 of the Ondine Quartet), and the following is a pretty good representation of what a normal day is like for me.

6:45 AM:
My german shepherd comes over to my side of the bed and gives my face a rough lick. This is my daily wake-up call. I don’t use an alarm clock because she’s so much more persistent. Husband has already walked her and as soon as they return it’s her job to wake me up.

6:50 AM:
I blearily pull myself out of bed. The previous night, I had an intense writing/thinking session for my current WIP. When my mind gets going, I sometimes have a difficult time sleeping. So I stayed up late watching the movie Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, and ended up having a strange dream of a maze-like library that led to a rose garden. Everyone, including me, spoke with a British accent.

6:55 AM: My dog herds me into the bathroom. I grumble the entire way. After splashing water on my face and changing into workout clothes, I go downstairs where hubby has already prepared coffee and is having his breakfast. As I walk into the dining room, he hums the melody from “The Phantom of the Opera” under his breath. This is a running joke between us. I apparently look like death in the morning.

7:00 AM: Hubby is cheerful and as usual, I’m envious of his effortless ability to get up and immediately be awake. It always takes me awhile to get going. I sip on some coffee and water and we go over our plans for the day. He goes off to do some last-minute work on his computer and I hop on the treadmill. This is the only way I can really wake up. I listen to a podcast of NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” while I work out and snort-laugh over the snarky commentary.

8:00 AM:
I’ve finished my morning shower and changed into comfy stay-at-home clothes. I make a quick veggie omelet for breakfast and have another cup of coffee. After breakfast, I down my daily dose of vitamins and head down to my basement home office.

8:25 AM:
Husband leaves for work. I begin my daily morning meditation session. I started practicing vipassana meditation at the beginning of 2011 and it has had a profound impact on the quality of my life. I sit on the sofa in my home office and meditate for 20 minutes. At some point, my dog comes to join me on the sofa.

8:45 AM: With a clear mind, I finally settle down at my desk. I’m unbelievably tempted to go online and check email and see what everyone is doing on Twitter and Facebook, but I know that I’ll never get this draft done if I do that. As is my usual ritual, I turn off my cell phone and shut the office door so that I have total silence while writing.

I stare at Scrivener and read what I wrote yesterday.


9:05 AM: Still staring at the computer screen. Wondering why the scene I’m working on doesn’t feel right. Words are not coming. I try to push through it and start making my writer face.

What is a writer face? Well, it’s when you’re grimacing, flinching, lifting your brow, moving your lips, whispering parts of dialogue, and making all sorts of weird expressions while you work out the writing of a scene. I vividly imagine the characters in my head and go through each of their reactions, expressions, and dialogue. It’s pretty embarrassing and is the reason why I never work outside of my home. If I made these sort of faces while writing at Starbucks, I’m pretty sure everybody would give me a wide berth.

My only witness at home is the dog.


She’s used to it by now.


10:30 AM: I manage a measly 658 words. A brief moment of panic sets in and I question whether or not I’ll ever be able to finish this book. I decide to do something else so that I have time to clear my head.

10:35 AM: I check email and respond to messages. I read through my Twitter stream and belatedly realize that it’s Cyber Monday and I should really get a start on my holiday shopping.

I have new fans on Facebook and spend ten minutes fretting about the fact that I’m lousy at Facebook. It doesn’t feel as intuitive to me as Twitter and I feel like an idiot for not being able to do right by the people who join me there.


11:00 AM: I start working on things for my regular day job. I own a company and also do creative work in another artistic field so I can pretty much dictate my hours, but it’s important for me to work on it every day. My mind keeps wandering back to the scene I’m struggling on.

12:15 PM: I glance at the clock and realize husband is coming home for lunch in 45 minutes. His job is only 15 minutes away and we always have lunch together. Crap. Did I remember to defrost the chicken?

I turn my cell phone on and rush into the kitchen (and yes, the chicken was defrosted). There are four messages - two from friends and two business-related calls. Nothing urgent so I call back friends and chit-chat as I hurry and prepare lunch (roasted broccoli and sauteed balsamic chicken with cherry tomatoes).


1:00 PM: Husband comes home. Over lunch, we talk about our day so far. He asks how the writing is going and I complain about the things that are bothering me. He lets me run through the list of difficulties I’m having and just listens. By the time I finish talking, I think I know how to fix the problem. I get excited.

2:00 PM: After we finish eating, I curse myself for forgetting to take a picture of lunch for this post. I take the dog out for a walk while hubby cleans up the kitchen. I’m terrible at cleaning and he usually handles that part of things.

The weather is cold and crisp. I marvel at how beautiful the sky looks today. The dog and I head for the park and immediately my mind starts analyzing the people there, curious to see if there’s an interesting quality or trait that I can use in my work. My dog runs around, playing chase with a little chihuahua and bossy bulldog. I catch up on work-related calls.


2:45 PM: Dog and I arrive back and husband is getting ready to return to work. I remind him to pick up some things that we need for dinner from the store on the way home, but make a mental note to text him later because there was no way he was going to remember.

2:56PM: I make another fresh pot of coffee and pour myself a cup. As I head downstairs, my dog comes up to me and drops her tug toy at my feet. She gives me that goofy grin of hers and I just can’t resist.

I train my dog for the next half-hour. We work on the usual things - sit, stay, turn over, play dead, down, shake hands, beg, search (in which I hide an object and she searches for it). I try to teach her a new trick of returning her toys to her basket once she’s done playing with them. This is a purely selfish request as I don’t want to pick up after her toys all over the house. She proceeds to give me a look that says, “How stupid do you think I am?” and refuses to cooperate. Hmm.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking the entire time of how interesting dogs are and how it’d be great to have a story with a dog as the main character. This, of course, leads me down another path and I think of Paul Auster’s Timbuktu and how it was such an interesting read (it’s told in first person from the eyes of a dog). I analyze the wealth of themes explored in that story. What kind of story could I write with a dog protagonist? Ideas flit through my mind - maybe a race of shape-shifting, magical dogs and a fantasy world setup that involves themes of loyalty and ….

My dog finally realizes I’ve gone to “la-la writer land” and promptly stalks away from me with a rather indignant sound.


3:30 PM: I head downstairs to my office with my now cold cup of coffee. I manage another 500 words before I get stuck again. I decide the problem is that I haven’t thought carefully enough about what needs to happen with a certain character’s emotional arc. I make a ton of notes in my notebook, trying to work through it.



Of course, I blacked out all names in the photo (did you actually think I’d give away spoilers?!).

4:35 PM: Once I had that written down, I needed to work through dialogue. Unable to sit still, I get out of my chair and begin pacing my office. Gesticulating wildly, I mutter to myself, working out the words that two characters would naturally say to each other and the emotional intent behind it. My dog watches with an exasperated expression.

4:45 PM: I hurry back to my desk and type in the dialogue I’ve worked out. I now arrive at an action/fight sequence and there are factors involved in this one that make it a bit different. So I start doing some research online and end up spending half an hour checking out funny websites devoted to ninja gear.

5:30PM: I decide that I cannot be trusted with internet access and head upstairs to block out the fight sequence. This involves me punching and kicking the air, studying the movements of my body to understand how two people would engage in a fight in that particular scene. I don’t have a martial arts background, but I did study dance pretty intensively in the past so things like body movements and the controlled energy of an action sequence fascinate me.

5:38 PM: I’m now really getting into it. I imagine myself a badass heroine like Kendra and how cool it would be if I could do these things with my body. Whipping around, lunging, fighting, and protecting those I care about…

A whine from the dog stops me short. Suddenly, I realize how ludicrous I look. I’m a short, five-foot-one woman in her thirties who’s leaping through the living room like a six-year-old, flailing my legs and arms around as I try to block out an imaginary fight scene.

The dog yawns. Blushing, I skulk back downstairs.


7:00 PM: I’ve managed to get in another 1013 words when husband walks in the door. We both look at each other and realize at the same time…dinner. He’d forgotten to stop by the store and I’d forgotten to text him. Of course, we end up going out.

9:00 PM: We arrive home and husband takes dog out for the last walk of the day. I go online, tweet, respond to email and spend time catching up on blogs and news. I’m obsessing over Roger Federer’s win at the ATP World Tour Finals in London over the weekend. Total fangirling ensues.

9:30PM: Husband and dog come back. We spend the rest of the evening watching TV. At the same time, I’m jotting down notes on what I need to work out with tomorrow’s writing.

An interesting thing about writers - a great deal of the work is also done away from the computer. It’s not just the hours you spend hammering words out; it’s also the amount of time spent throughout the day thinking and stewing over your story.

Some days are easier than others but whenever I have a tough day, I remind myself of how lucky I am to do something that allows me to act like a six-year-old ninja in my home.

And that my dog is the only one to witness it.

2 comments:

  1. Aislynn - Thanks for having me on your site for this feature! My days really aren't very interesting (LOL) but I had great fun writing it down to share with your readers! : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was thrilled you said yes Emma!! Can't wait for Billow to come out :)
    And your dog is just adorable :) I love G.S's!

    ReplyDelete

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