Chantel Vereen is a Senior Professional Writing Major at York College of Pennsylvania. She is involved with almost every campus group or activity imaginable, and can be found writing on paper all the time—from lists, to short blurbs and quotes, and long, drawn-out stories. We wanted to talk to her about her story, and how using analog tools helps her writing processes.
SSC: So, what’s your story?
VEREEN: Well, I was born in Queens, New York. By the time I was five years old I moved to Long Island, NY. I was above average for most things in terms of schooling. I really enjoyed music. I was in marching band, show choir, theatre productions, and I even sang in a barbershop group. Don’t worry, you can check me out on YouTube. I like to laugh a lot. Though I may come off as a professional, I am very silly in all aspects. I just cannot help it. In my senior year of high school, I got a clear perspective that I wanted to write. I was good at somethings but I never felt greater than sitting at my desk and writing a page or two (or twenty). I just had this desire share my story with the world. Now, I am in my senior year of college, with a few publications under my belt. I plan on becoming an essayist and hopefully work in the publication world as a literary publicist.
SSC: Tell us a little bit about your stationary origin story. When did you realize that paper was more than just paper? Why do you prefer paper over technology such as a computer or an app?
VEREEN: Paper is where the journey begins. It is your map and it helps you navigate just about anywhere you want to go. I especially love it when it comes to making lists. There is effort in list-writing and that is why I love using that over an app. You can just sit down and focus on it. With technology, there is so many distractions. But with paper, it is just blank. It is a fresh clean start.
SSC: How do you use analog tools to tell your story (through art or otherwise)?
VEREEN: In terms of expressing my art, I really enjoy having a medium-sized journal. Not too big. As for a writing utensil, it has to be a blue pen. It just feels livelier in a way. If I don’t have that then I ultimately use one of those black gel pens. It just has this air of eloquence to it.
SSC: So, what’s in your bag? What does your desk look like?
VEREEN: My book bag is mostly filled with books for my literature course and my planner. I love my planner. It is literally attached to my hip. But as for my desk, that is where most of my creative works are. I keep all my past works that I still have interest in extending left on the right side of my desk next to any of my school work. In terms of just past written works, I keep that in one of the middle drawers that I have. That is simply for reflection and a way I look for ways to improve further. I have a lot of mugs on my desks that have quotes on being a writer. They are filled with blue ink pens and paper clips.
SSC: What does your typical creative process look like?
VEREEN: For fiction, it starts off with a sentence or two that has been stuck in my head or has been swimming around my head for a while. I write it down, analyze it and then begin to mind map. I write down genres, themes, or scenes that I can see where this small sentence can work. I then circle similarities create a plotline paragraph, blast some heavy NWA tracks then begin drafting.
For creative nonfiction, I pick a moment. Any moment. Right now, I am in this phase where I pick embarrassing things about me. I make a list from there incorporating that scene with emotions, analogies, pop culture references, or other moments from my life. I then mind map it from there creating a timeline of things I want to say. I also have this weird thing where I have to walk back and forth and think out loud about my life. So I guess you can say that I do most of my nonfiction writing at home with my door closed.
For poetry, I need silence. I find it really weird because I am known for my loudness. But I have to be sitting and staring at my laptop. Only for poetry do I use my laptop because I find it the most challenging and I am always crossing things out.
SSC: Okay, obligatory "desert island" question. You only get to have one paper and pen/pencil combination for the rest of your stationery using days, what's it going to be?
VEREEN: It would be a maroon colored leather bound journal with my initials stamped in the left hand corner with a beautiful black gel pen.
**This interview was conducted by our Fall 2016 Intern, Kayla Heston