Jayne Martin: On Hummingbirds and Trusting Our Wings



*In anticipation of our upcoming retreats, Kathy Fish and I have been getting to know our participants here, asking playful questions and sharing stories. Jayne Martin is not only joining us this summer, but she has been part of planting this seed that is now coming to fruition. We’re so excited to welcome her here!

Nancy Stohlman: The biggest challenge most writers have is finding the time to write. How do you “retreat” in your day-to-day life in order to honor your creativity?

Jayne Martin: “Retreat” is my go-to state of being. I’m a card-carrying introvert. My biggest writing challenge is having too much time. I have always worked best with deadlines. Give me a short window of time to get a story done and I can summon the energy and focus of a hummingbird paused mid-flight. One television series I worked on required me to write two half-hour shows a week. I thrive under that kind of pressure. Without it, no one can piss away time like I can. That’s why I love your November 30-Stories-In-30-Days writing challenge. I also need accountability, because apparently I’m an undisciplined child. This I get by taking online classes and workshops almost constantly. So my challenge isn’t finding time to write. It’s getting my ass in the chair and focusing.


Nancy: You’re also a horse lover and your animals seem to be an important part of your world. Do animals also inform your work or are they separate for you?

Jayne: My animals are my emotional center, so I suppose in that way they inform my work. Mostly, they take me out of my constantly chattering mind, especially my horse. I’m never more present than when I am in his presence. I also live in a rural area high on a hilltop where red-tail hawks are currently teaching their fledglings to trust their wings. That’s what we must do as writers, isn’t it?


Nancy: What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?  Where can we read it?

Jayne: That would be “When the Bough Breaks.” It was originally written for Midwestern Gothic’s first summer flash, photo-prompt contest in the summer of 2015 where it placed in the top three published stories. The prompt was a photo of a little boy in a darkly-shadowed room, looking out a window and holding a flower. The piece went on to win Vestal Review’s VERA award in 2016. You can read it here. 


Nancy: React to this quote by Henri Matisse: “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.”

Jayne: I have a problem with attempts to define people as anything. Henri’s opinion is not divine, it’s just his opinion. Am I curious? Well, I’m nosy. Flexible? Oh, God no. Hate change. Always have and I’m a total control freak. But maybe that’s what most writers are. Control freaks. How else does one account for our need to create characters and then make them do our bidding? Persistent? You betcha. And as tenacious as a tick on a hound’s butt. I was brought up by a single mother who couldn’t quite get the discipline thing down and so I learned to never take no for an answer. As it turns out that has served me well in both life and in my writing career. Independent? “I’ll do it myself” is my mantra. Spirit of adventure? Not so much. I like to plan ahead and know what’s coming (refer to “control freak”). Love of play?  Define “play.” On my horse, in my garden, reading a book? Sure.

My point is creative people are indefinable. A prisoner who figures out a way to escape is creative, though I doubt Matisse was thinking of that when he came up with this definition.


Nancy: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

Jayne: I was the “SHOUT it out” lady. It was 1975. I was a young actress in Hollywood and I booked the very first commercial for SHOUT stain remover.

“How do you get a tough stain out?”

“I’d SHOUT it out!”

Yep. That was me. I lived off the residuals from that commercial for three years.


Nancy: Anything else you want to add?

Jayne: I have a tattoo of a hummingbird on my right shoulder.


Nancy: Jayne, we are so excited to work with you in person this summer!

Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Cabinet of Heed, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She lives in California where she drinks copious amounts of fine wine and rides horses, though not at the same time. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

Join us in Costa Rica in January, 2019! We have 8 spaces left!

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