Launching Books, Lifelong Learning and Living on Your Own Terms: a Profile of Puttypeep, Thea van Diepen

Launching Books, Lifelong Learning and Living on Your Own Terms: a Profile of Puttypeep, Thea van Diepen

Written by Janet Brent

Topics: Puttytribe

Note from Emilie: I’m always amazed at the incredible growth I see in the Puttytribe. I’ve witnessed all kinds of projects come to life, from books being written to new businesses launched to radical life changes and moves across the globe. I’ve also gotten to see several puttypeeps grow more confident and start pursuing more of their interests and projects. It’s amazing to watch.

I thought it would be fun to share some of our community’s “wins” with you. Today’s post is a profile of one of our longtime members in the Puttytribe, Thea van Diepen. Thanks to Janet Brent for conducting the interview. Enjoy!

Tell us more about yourself. What’s your story?

If you had asked me this before last April, I would have been able to give you a general narrative of my life. But, since then, I’ve completely re-evaluated the central structure of that story and now find myself somewhat narrative-less. It’s an awkward position for a writer to be in!

Ok, let’s start with that. I write stuff. More specifically, I write stories. I’ve self-published two books. Dreaming of Her and Other Stories is an anthology of short stories and poetry and The Illuminated Heart is a novella that retells the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but in Iceland and with zombies.

I value human dignity, the expression of creativity, and proper spelling. I work at a library, where I get paid to be anal-retentive, and am in my second-to-last year of a Bachelors in psychology, although I would really, really like to be traveling Europe right now. It is my dream that, one day, Ctrl+F will have IRL functionality and that indie books will be just as cool as indie games/music/movies.

What are you currently creating? What keeps you up at night?

Currently, I’m writing, arting (shush, that’s a verb), reading, learning, and legitimately enjoying my job at the library. What I’m right in the middle of making is currently top secret! Aside from that, I’m waiting for the next proof copy of the paperback of The Illuminated Heart to get here so that I can put it up for sale. After which I’ll start working on my first webcomic.

What’s making it really hard for me to be an adult about getting to sleep on time is developing exciting story ideas. There are a couple writing projects that I’ve been spending so much time and thought on and that I can’t wait to share with people.

How has the Puttytribe helped you with your life and projects?

Just knowing that there are other people out there doing what they love, joyfully, and without being typecasted, so to speak. I need to know a thing is possible before I try it for real, and that’s what the Puttytribe gave me. Proof that this living on your own terms thing is real, that I don’t need to do just one thing, and that I don’t have to separate out all the things I do.

I was already planning on writing novels and being a psychologist and possibly other things, but in a compartmentalized sort of way, which is sort of like expecting your brain to work properly after disconnecting all the different lobes from each other. First off: Ouch. Second off: Instead of meaningful stuff happening as a natural result of the setup, it would only come with a whole lot of very unfun striving to make things work despite the setup. Once I realized I could choose a different path, I did. And it’s been great.

I’ve actually thanked everyone in the Puttytribe for their awesomeness via the acknowledgements page of both my books. Because they didn’t just help me get started. They continue to be a source of encouragement, positivity, and help, no matter what I need or what I’m going through. There are so many good things in my life now because of the friendships I’ve made and the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. There is a genuine desire to help and uplift everyone, and I value that immensely.

What makes you a multipotentialite?

I’m good at basically everything I’m interested in, which made trying to think of a career highly frustrating. Learning comes naturally, even if the thing I’m learning doesn’t, and my brain is a sponge for trivia that I find interesting. For instance, did you know that the usual word order in Welsh is verb, subject, object?

Along with that, I’m constantly connecting things and making projects from seemingly disparate elements, like this one thing I did in high school that involved star constellations and a made-up alphabet, both of which were symbolically related through a complex system involving the bits of made-up language to go with the alphabet, all of which tied together through a series of short narratives that could be pieced together into a larger narrative that was parallel to the Bible. I tried explaining it all to a teacher once. That didn’t work so well.

What various interests do you cycle through or have you been involved in in the past?

I’m continually fascinated by anything that involves a system that has a set of rules that allow for the endlessly creative generation of things. This also applies to language, music, art, stories, biology (especially genetics, which I love), ecology, poetry, video games, sports, human interaction, etc.

Writing is one thing that I’ve been super interested in off and on since grade 2, and I love it enough that I honestly wouldn’t hate doing it for the rest of my life, if I really did have to choose just one thing.

But, really, I never become less interested in things that I used to do a whole bunch. I just end up doing them less at different times in my life. Certain interests become more prominent, and, since I’m not God and have limited temporal resources, I have to let some fields lie fallow and gather nutrients while I weed, water, and harvest the others.

What one piece of advice would you give to other multipotentialites?

Want to know if something’s viable as a business for you? Try finishing stuff. Starting is easy as heck, especially for us. But it wasn’t until I purposefully went and actually finished a bunch of stories that I went from just wanting to write to knowing that I could write as a career.

Businesses really aren’t about starting all kinds of things that stay open-ended forever. You actually have to get things done. So you might as well fall in love with the person, so to speak, and not just the idea of the person, before you get things started.

Learn more about Thea at her website Expected Aberrations.

Your Turn

If you are a puttypeep, how have you grown since joining the Tribe? If you aren’t a puttypeep yet, how have you grown since learning you are a multipotentialite?

The Puttytribe doors are opening tomorrow, Tuesday April 8 but they will only remain open for 24 hours. Learn more about becoming a puttypeep here.


  1. Lauren says:

    Nice one Thea, love your interests and motivations. I’m getting better at finishing things but it’s still something I really struggle with. I think it’s because I lose interest in something when I realise I can do it, so getting to the end isn’t always that important to me, but it definitely helps me feel that sense of achievement if all my interests are starting to make my brain hurt!

    • So long as you don’t use your multipotentialite-ness as an excuse to finish the things you really do want to finish, then you’re golden. :) Sometimes, it’s tempting just to jump from thing to thing because finishing things is scary, just like starting things can be scary. Just be gentle with yourself, really look at what you really wanted most (the learning experience, or the finished product), and then be diligent about getting whichever is most important to you about whatever project you’re working on.

      This is what helps me finish my books, plus allowing myself a few minutes every now and then to play around with new ideas or ideas I’ve slated for later before getting back to my main project. :)

  2. Vincent Imbat says:

    I just discovered my multipotentialite nature recently when I have to decide what to do next after college. I typed the question “What will I do with my life if I have many interests?” at Google and out came a post by Emilie featured at Paid to Exist. That’s when I realized yup, I am a multipotentialite. That’s just last March.

    Since learning I was a multipotentialite, here are the things I did:
    1. I decided not to follow through my application for middle school social studies teaching.
    2. I devoted a month for introspection while doing some freelancing.
    3. Currently working on my Renaissance Business.

    Thea, I am also deeply interested with self-publishing ever since. But I noticed that my multipotentialite tendencies are so strong that finishing a novel seemed like a daunting task. I need variety every day. Although I really have a lot of ideas and I have actually created a workable story structure, starting something big seems frightening since I get bored easily. I thought about publishing a novella or even a compilation of illustrated essays ala Debbie Millman, just to feed my multipotentialite nature. Since shorter projects seem to appeal with me better.

    By the way, that thing you did at high school, with the constellations and the bible. Haha. I didn’t get it myself. But it was totally hilarious!

    Toast to insanely awesome multipotentialites! :D

    • Hey, a novel is a daunting task to anyone. So. Many. Words. So. Much. Story.

      *gives her best deer in headlights impression*

      You mentioned that you need variety every day. Me, too, dude. Me, too. I think that a misconception about working on a large project -like a novel- is that, while working on it, that’s the only thing we should be working on. But, really, that’s not how it has to be. You can totally do a bunch of other things while working on your novel, so long as your novel is very high on your priority list and you do remain diligent about working on it.

      Oh! Something that might help you with the novel is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month. Here is website: It’s a challenge that happens every year in November, where you’re supposed to write 50,000 words of a novel in that one month. It’s a hoot and a half, and they also have spring/summer challenges as well for two other months, collectively called Camp NaNo. The first one this year is actually this month, and the second one is in June (I’m pretty sure it is, at any rate).

      Maybe you can try it out, see how it works for you? At the very least, you’ll find out how fast you write. On fast days, I can do 500 words in half an hour. On slow days, the same amount takes me an hour to complete. Knowing that has made it a lot simpler for me to plan out my various writing projects so that I get them done without being too singleminded about it. :)

      About the star project thing: Yeah. It’s a really complex, interwoven thing. I kind of thrive on those types of things, so I didn’t realize just how involved it was until my explanation was met with a blank stare, even though I’d tried to be as clear as I possibly could. *shrugs* We don’t really know what we’re good at until we find out that other people can’t just do it as easily as we can. I bet you’ve experienced something like that. :)

  3. Rachael says:

    I love that you talk about finishing things at the end! Wonderful story and very uplifting and encouraging. Thea keep it up! :)

    • Thanks! I just checked out your website, and it looks really fun and positive. Looks like you’ve got a pretty awesome thing going there, and I love your wide variety of facial expressions. Definitely made me smile. :D

  4. Lizzie says:

    Hey Thea, great interview! You are so right about finishing things, it’s something I have an issue with because there is so much new stuff to start. That’s why I’ve recently been focusing on shorter projects with self-imposed deadlines, it’s helped a lot with my self-esteem too. I am really happy for you that everything is going so well!

    • Thanks! And you are totally right about the self-esteem thing. Finishing stuff is fantastic for that, and it’s definitely something I would recommend to anyone in a rut. Even if it’s something small, finishing a thing makes you feel awesome about yourself, and is great for building back positive momentum. :)

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