Interview with Diane Elayne Dees, Summer 2018 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Diane Elayne Dees’s poems, short stories and creative nonfiction have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane published the progressive blog, The Dees Diversion, for many years, and she also blogged for several years for the Mother Jones Mojo Blog. Diane, who is a semi-retired psychotherapist in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women’s professional tennis throughout the world. When she isn’t writing, Diane spends her time reading and working out at the gym. Connect with her on Twitter @WomenWhoServe.

Be sure to give Diane's poignant story "Woman in Blue," a read and then check back here to learn more about the author.

----------interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Your bio states that you publish a blog devoted to the sport of women's professional tennis, and you contributed to the Mother Jones Mojo blog (and another blog called The Dees Diversion) for many years. What are your tips for producing quality blog content and getting your work picked up by a national publication?

Diane: I was fortunate that, when I published The Dees Diversion, it was read by someone from the Mother Jones editorial staff, who then invited me to also write for the MoJo Blog. My only advice to bloggers is: Be authentic. Write what you want to write. Social media now makes it a little easier to get a readership—when I joined Twitter, I immediately got a shout-out from a colleague who wrote for Sports Illustrated, and that helped me. I’ve never been too interested in how many people read my blogs, as long as some people are reading them!

WOW: Your work has been published in a variety of forms: poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, etc. Could you give us one example of how you came up with an idea for a piece and the writing process behind it?

Diane: A good example would be a series of poems I wrote on sled-pushing/load pulling, one of my primary activities in the gym. Pushing and pulling different types of weighted sleds is very demanding, sometimes very maddening, but the results are profound—and not just physically.

I was going through something very painful in my life when I began writing the series. I knew that sled-pushing (as well as other forms of physical training) was helping me to hold myself together, and I was led to explore why. The answers appeared in the poems. It came to me that the extreme effort I was making in pushing the weight was, in many ways, a perfect metaphor for the extreme effort I was making in trying to just exist day by day. The poems also led me to acknowledge some gratitude.

I write formal and free verse, and have a preference for formal verse. Four of the five sled poems are formal, which also makes sense in the context of the rhythm that is established when I’m pushing or pulling weight.

WOW: I love that description and how you were able to channel your energy into such a unique project. Speaking of energy, what did you specialize in as a psychotherapist and did your work inspire any of your writing pieces?

Diane: I still work as a psychotherapist (part-time now), and my specialties include the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder. When I was writing fiction, I think that my knowledge of how the mind works made it easier for me to write both internal monologue and dialogue. It also made it easier to understand what would realistically motivate my characters to do the things I had them do.

In writing poetry, my understanding of mental health issues has helped me to explore more uncomfortable themes. And once, I wrote a sestina memorializing a client who had committed suicide.

WOW: What is your favorite line from "Woman in Blue?”

The last line!

WOW: Isn't it such a great feeling when you can write such a zinger of a line and know you have reached the end? There's no better feeling, in my opinion. What is your favorite writing space to work from?

Diane: Maybe the one I have. I often write in my home office, next to a window overlooking a birdfeeder and wooded property. Other times, I write in my living room, the room in my house where I hang out the most. This year, I wrote my first sonnet corona almost entirely from my sofa.

Once, years ago, on a long train ride, my writing brain “lit up,” and I was able to write with great freedom and creativity. A few years ago, I learned about a group of New Yorkers who write while they’re riding subway trains, and I thoroughly understood that. If I lived in New York City, I’d want to join that group.

WOW: Thank you so much, Diane. I hope others are feeling inspired to walk away from this interview and pick up their pens! What a wealth of information and inspiration.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview.

Diane--I read your story. You're right, to be proud of that last line. It's quite a zinger.

I was mentally nodding my head in agreement when you spoke of the different places you've written over the years. Too often (I think), writers are reluctant to write until they have the perfect writing spot. It's like the CSN & Y song, "Love the One You're With." Write in the spot you have. I've actually had great luck writing in coffee shops and at fast-food counters, and I'm with you. Writing on the subway sounds like it lead to a flood of words.

Good luck with your future writing, and thanks for participating in this interview.

Diane said...

Thanks for the kind words, Sioux. I, too, find coffee shops to be good writing venues. There isn’t really much distraction, and you’re away from household tasks.

Mary Horner said...

Great interview, Renee, and I love this story. I'm a sucker for stories about other forms of art, well done, Diane!

Diane said...

Thanks, Mary

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