Dianne Young is a retired educational assistant and primarily a writer of picture books. Her last book, Dear Flyary, won the Saskatchewan Book Awards SaskEnergy Children’s Literature Award in 2014. Her next book, due out Fall 2018, is a collaboration with Pickles comic strip creator, Brian Crane.
Describe your workspace.
My office is in my bedroom. It occupies most of the wall between two windows.
This picture is rather misleading. I’m a piler, so usually the printer, the scanner, the desk and the floor around the desk are covered in stuff. I cleaned it up (as in temporarily relocated the piles) for the picture.
My other workspace is at my friend Paula’s kitchen table on most Monday mornings when we get together to write. Separately, but together.
Describe a typical workday.
Now that I’m retired, my days are anything but typical. But most mornings start with a trip to the dog park with Posey. If I’m going to get any writing done that day, it will either happen after the dog park, or after lunch. At least that’s the way it’s working out now. But I’m retired, so I can pretty much schedule my day however I like. (Doesn’t seem to make me any more productive, though.) If I’m not writing, I’m attending to the business of writing, or researching, or whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. Evenings are for activities, and late evenings are for working on the online calculus class I’m taking.
List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
The desktop image on my laptop. It’s my favourite picture of my husband, Bill, who died three years ago. Turning on my laptop is always a joy when the first thing I see is him. (My sons cringe when they see all the icons on my desktop. Told you I was a piler!)
My stuffed robin. It reminds me of the wonderful writing group I belong to, known as the Robins. I’ve been with this group over 25 years. They have taught me so much about writing for children, and we have grown as close as sisters. (For perspective, it’s about five inches across.)
My desk. It used to be an entertainment stand. I cut the drawers off the bottom, and removed the glass doors from the right side. I think it was a stroke of genius!
(Don’t look to close at the top. The piles have begun to return!)
Do you have any rituals in your work habits?
No. (Truth be told, I don’t even have any work habits!)
What do you listen to while you work?
Nothing. I find it too distracting.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Water. Sometimes herbal tea, but that’s more for when I’m taking a break. If I’m having tea, I’ll also have a couple of Anna’s Ginger Thins. I have a tea station set up outside my bedroom, so I don’t have to go all the way to the kitchen to get my tea fix. Not that it’s an arduous journey, but it’s a distracting one.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
If it’s fiction, I’m a pantser. If it’s non-fiction, I’m an outliner.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Sam Elliot? No, then I’d never get any writing done! I guess I’d go with my friend Paula, whose workspace I already invade most Monday mornings.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Don’t give up. My favourite writing quote is from Barbara Kingsolver, and it’s about rejection:
This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it, “To the editor who can appreciate my work,” and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address.” Just keep looking for the right address.
Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.