On this episode of A Day in the Life we meet 2016 grad Emily Vander Ark. She writes for children and young adults and is a writing and composition teacher. Emily lives in Southwest Michigan. It was great to hear from Emily and learn more about her daily routine and writing process.
Now let’s hear from Emily.
When did you graduate?
What genre do you write?
Writing for Children and Young Adults!
Where do you live?
Southwest Michigan, Saint Joseph area
What are your favorite books?
Oh my. Far too many to list here, but some that make my heart hurt are A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, The Essays of E B White, The Once and Future King, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and most recently Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt.
Do you hold a full-time job other than writing?
As of recently, yes! This fall I was hired on full time at the local community college where I have been teaching as an adjunct for two years. I mostly teach first year writing/composition classes, but I also get to teach creative writing, and hopefully children’s literature in the future!
What part of writing do you like the most?
That’s such a hard question, because of course I love writing, but at the same time I hate it. Do all writers feel that way? I suppose I like the parts of drafting when I’m certain of the plot and themes and the writing flows… such a small percentage of the process!
Do you work with an outline or just wing it?
I always have some sort of outline. Occasionally I will write several pages to get to know a character before pausing to work on the outline, but that’s rare. Even though my stories tend to be character driven, if I don’t know what is happening in the story I don’t know what to write.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
After graduating from Spalding I did not write for nearly six months.
Do you listen to music while writing- if so, what kind?
I like to listen to piano music because typing on a keyboard feels like playing the piano and it keeps my fingers moving!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a vegetable garden, and I love to be outdoors hiking, walking, or playing with my dog. I also knit.
Can you tell us about an upcoming project?
I am currently seeking representation for a middle grade novel I started in my last semester at Spalding. Avery is in fifth grade, a huge fan of the Beatrice Bot series, and terrified of bees. Her mother starts dating a beekeeper who hires Avery to work at the farmer’s market so she can earn money to buy a ticket to the Beatrice Bot convention.
Where can we find your work?
There are links to my work in Crack the Spine and other journals on my website. I also have a short story that will be published in the YA Review Network online journal in the summer.
What does your daily schedule look like?
I would like to be one of those people who gets up early and has a super productive day, but usually I end up rolling out of bed around 7, which gives me time to get to work by 8. From then until around 4pm, my day consists of classes, grading, meeting with students, and whatever spare snippets of writing, editing, blogging, or other general tasks for work or writing I can manage. At home I typically have an obligation in the evenings or do some tidying around the house, then wind down with reading or knitting while watching a comedy show. On Fridays, I don’t have classes, so that day is reserved for deep revision and rewriting, which I can’t manage in smaller chunks of time.
What advice would you give someone looking for a more productive routine?
The best advice that I can’t seem to follow: get up early! Whenever I’ve done this I know the day is more productive and I feel much better about it… but don’t try to convince me of that before the sun is up.
Email me at email@example.com to be featured for A Day in the Life.
Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, puppy, and son. She’s traveled to 65 countries solo, now taking the baby along. She blogs about family travel at A Wandering Scribbler while writing novels and binge-watching British TV.