In January, Leanne Dyck, a long time Trincomali Community Arts Council member, published her second novel, The Sweater Curse. Leanne is well known for her original knit designs which are often seen in exhibitions or comfortably wrapped around herself or other Mayne Islanders. Writing and knitting are lifelong passions for Leanne, but since 2003, when she had her first article published in a Canadian knitting magazine, she's gradually focused more on writing than knit design.
She explains the differences between the artforms: "Knitting is expensive--the cost of wool, and especially the time and materials you waste in correcting mistakes adds up. I still love to knit, but writing is just a pen and a piece of paper."
"It's also a profession I can do while I'm sleeping. I sometimes dream parts of a book I'm working on--literally the words become clear in a dream. Then I have to wake up, grab a notebook and record the ideas, otherwise they'll be gone in the morning. I'm very self-critical, but when I'm asleep, the critic inside me is asleep too. It makes it easier to express myself, because I'm not restraining myself at all."
"I like writing because it's a way of thinking about things that are important to me and analyzing personal issues. There's a lot of myself in my new book, especially what it's like to be an artist and how that's perceived by society."
For Leanne neither knitting or writing came easy. "I've struggled with dyslexia all my life. Reading and writing are difficult. Also in social interactions, I have to really think about what's an appropriate response in a given situation--what are the right words? As an author, I'm grateful to have beta readers, critique partners, and a team of editors. Even though it's taken me many years to fully understand my disability, I now view it as an advantage in my creative pursuits."
In a book called, The Gift of Dyslexia (written by Ronald D. Davis, an expert in the field), there's a chapter called 'Creativity'. Davis explains that the creative drive is stronger in persons with dyslexia. They possess enhanced creativity and curiosity. While dyslexics have difficulty learning to read or interpret words, they think visually, intuitively and multi-dimensionally.
When Leanne was eight years old, her mother started to teach her to knit, but she realized she wasn't the right person for the challenge, so Leanne's grandmother picked up the stitch, so to speak. With her grandmother's patience and encouragement, a warm bond was formed, as well as the groundwork for success. When Leanne was eleven, she join 4-H and was happily surprised to discover that with her skills at knitting, she was accomplished at something other kids struggled with.
Leanne had to develop strategies for confidence. For example, "When I'm in front of a group, I become a different person--it's hardly me at all. I can actually feel my father, who died ten years ago, standing behind me. I speak the way he would speak in the situation. It's almost like I'm channeling him, that he's speaking through me."
When she and her husband, Byron, moved to Mayne in 1999, she was happy to be welcomed and accepted by the island's artistic community. Besides being a dynamic member of TCAC, she's found lots of helpful criticism and encouragement from the island writing group. Other inspirations? "I love John Steinbeck and John Grisham." On teaching: "I wouldn't teach writing, and I don't like criticizing other people's writing. I feel like I still have too much to learn, but thanks to the writing group, I'm becoming more comfortable in supporting other writers with their work."