Dawn Raffel: Author, Editor & Teacher

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My Admission Statement: I write books. I edit books. I teach creative writing. If it involves words, I’m in! As a writer, I am a genre-hopper. My most recent book is The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. It’s the true story of a man who changed infant care in America—by placing preemies on the boardwalks of places like Coney Island and Atlantic City. NPR called it “a mosaic mystery told in vignettes, cliffhangers, curious asides, and some surreal plot twists,” while the New Yorker review focused on the way Couney was trying to save these babies in the shadow of American eugenics. In addition to The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, I’ve published short stories, a novel, and a memoir.

How did you get into the industry?

My mother used to remark that as a child I slept with a book instead of a stuffed animal. Throughout my life, books have been my refuge and inspiration. After college, I took the first job I could get in New York, which was as a magazine editor, and I stayed in magazines while writing books for a long while, until the magazine industry underwent major disruption. At that point, the natural next step was to move to teaching creative writing and editing books on an independent basis, which is what I’ve been doing for the last five years.

Any emerging industry trends?

Many publishing houses do not have the resources to give authors the TLC they need, which is where independent editors like me come in.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Well, here’s the thing. We could talk about digital disruption until we’re blue in the face. But in the end, the biggest challenge is always the writing itself.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

As a teacher, I’ve felt some frustration with the limitations of the traditional workshop model, which is all from the neck up. I’ve begun incorporating yoga, breathwork, and yoga nidra into my teaching (and my own writing!) as ways to tap into deeper creativity. These are excellent practices for people who think too much, which describes most writers—present company included.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Develop practices that sustain you. The publishing industry can be brutal, and you want to be in it for the long haul. The reality is that, in any creative endeavor, rejection is part of the package. I encourage my clients and my students to make time for yoga, or swimming, or running, or meditation, or whatever nurtures them.

What do I do best?

As an editor and a teacher, I offer individual attention that’s hard to come by. I also have a great eye.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I work really hard and I don’t quit.

What are my aspirations?

To continue to learn. Right now, I am writing a novel. This will be my sixth book, fourth work of fiction, but the thing with writing is: You are a beginner every time.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My late father who believed in big dreams and hard work, but who also took the time to nurture personal connections and enjoy life.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Coney Island!

My Current Passions?

Yoga and yoga nidra as portals to creativity

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The beautiful promenade along the Hoboken waterfront. People love to praise New York’s highline, but the view is much better from the Jersey side!

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Dreaming

10:00 AM – Editing or writing

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? —yoga studio. Ideally, that’s my lunch break, and then I grab something to eat at my desk.

7:00 PM - Thinking about dinner

11:00 PM - Reading

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Coffee. Not a lot, but it needs to be good. And strong.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In my own thoughts!

What Else to Know?

I love doing radio. Here’s a conversation on Innovation Hub: http://blogs.wgbh.org/innovation-hub/2018/9/7/fake-doctor-who-saved-thousands-babies/

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