Jeff Martin

YWW Associate Director

Jeff Martin joined the residential staff as a teacher and counselor in 2001, served as assistant director from 2002-2003, and has been the summer program’s associate director from 2004 to the present.

Where are you living and what brought you there?

For years I’ve worked remotely for Young Writers, but this past August I moved from Greensboro, NC to Charlottesville to be closer to the action and to teach fiction-writing at Sweet Briar College.

What do you find yourself most often reading/listening to lately and why?

In the winter I do a lot of reading because it feels so instinctive to shut out the cold and the darkness that way. So far this winter the highlights have been: 1) The Corrections, which I’d never read before and found absolutely extraordinary–even on page 450, Franzen is still creating inventive language, and his use of detail is about as precise as it gets; 2) Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe and The Sixth Extinction, both of which are non-fiction and chronicle some part of the natural world ending in a quiet, devastating way; and 3) Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, also non-fiction, which chronicles how the human body ends in quiet, devastating ways and how to cope with the reality of that fact. It’s a cheery list! On the upside, Foo Fighters, U2, Counting Crows, and the Old 97s all had new albums in 2014, and that was fun because all these bands know to play real instruments, plug in the guitars, and just howl from time to time.

What are you working on right now and what does it represent in the larger body of your artistic accomplishments?

Like most fiction writers, I’m working on a “longer project,” which is industry-speak for “novel” but less terrifying to say. If it doesn’t flat-out kill me, it will be the longest work I’ve ever finished, and that, I suppose, is something.

What are your publications, performances, albums, and/or achievements that seem most important to you at this point in time?

Most recently I had a story published at Drunken Boat; I’ve also been published in Mid-American Review, The Greensboro Review, Sou’wester, storySouth, and have a piece forthcoming in The Florida Review. The story in The Greensboro Review is the one I’m most proud of at the moment because I wrote the first draft of it in April of 2003, revised it in 2010, and got 17 rejections for it until the GR picked it up in 2012. Now it’s a notable story in Best American Short Stories 2013. It’s a testament to just how capricious the publishing world is, which can be discouraging but also very encouraging. Any decent story likely has a chance if you’re patient enough. Or stubborn enough. Or both.

What’s the best advice you can give a Young Writer (in general or in your specific genre)?

Show up to your desk every day and keep yourself in the chair for an hour, even if it means writing only a single sentence you end up deleting.