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Introducing Suzy Chamandy, Fiction Faculty

In what ways does the concept of convergence play a role in your writing life &/or writing process?

Procrastination has been my enemy all my life. I can still remember my 7th grade math teacher writing a three word note, all in caps, and putting it in front of me on my desk – DO IT NOW. I didn’t get better at DOING IT NOW then, and I still struggle with it. Mightily.

While thinking about this summer’s theme of convergence, I’ve been considering my writing habits – especially my issue with procrastination. Yes, I take my sweet time beginning a story. It often starts with a situation I hear about – in a news story, for instance. Or sometimes it starts with an overheard line that I want to use as a first line, or it starts with a memory. It’s an unconscious thing, but I find myself holding off on starting the writing. I let the line or situation stew in my head, and inevitably it becomes something more – I’m thinking through convergence with other ideas or memories or experiences that come along. I guess this is my process, how I take in the world and make fiction. I’m guessing this kind of waiting for convergence works for a lot of writers – of all genres. I like to think of it as leaving the door open for new things to come into communion with what’s already on your mind.

Due to his nature or his training, New York Times writer Adam Grant was not a procrastinator. He needed to learn to do that. His take on the value of procrastination is exciting to me – that the delay in production and the time it offers just may allow for more creative thought. He wonders whether getting right down to the writing task instead of taking a procrastination pause has a way of “shutting down” more divergent thinking. Procrastination can give a writer time to ruminate on and entertain less conventional or less immediately available ideas. So, if you’re a procrastinator, take heart. There’s potentially something very good in it. And if you’re not, try something different. Try procrastinating! Mindful procrastinating, that is.

SUZY CHAMANDY has two MFA degrees in fiction writing: the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow; and the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she received the Truman Capote Fellowship and the Teaching-Writing Fellowship. She taught fiction writing at both universities. Her publications include short stories in Open City and Blue Mesa Review, with one of her stories anthologized in They’re at It Again: An Open City Reader, and book reviews in The Boston Phoenix. She lives in Boston and is the Director of Counseling at Newbury College in Brookline, MA where she counsels undergraduates and consults on student community needs.