I think the hardest thing for a lot of new writers to see is that the media and even social media makes it look like the writers who have “made it” did so without any struggle. But the life you see is just the sound bite version and the real life of any writer who’s “made it” was not easy.
This weeks interview with Cory Martin is special to me. I first met Cory last year through social media – she is an inspirational woman and has been hugely influential in my writing life. Cory published my first short story “Disappointment” and she was the first person to believe in my writing. Cory has had a successful writing career. She was a writer for the hit T.V. series “The O.C.”, founded her own publishing company and her memoir “Love Sick” was launched last Valentine’s Day.
NK: You founded Write Out Publishing last year? What made you start an independent press specialising in short stories?
CM: I’ve always loved the short story and as a writer, that’s what I started with. I think a lot of writers have done the same. It probably has a lot to do with the education system. When you take creative writing classes in High School or college your assignments are always short stories. This is great, because it forces you to learn how to write a concise story with a beginning, middle and end but it also allows your teachers, professors and classmates to critique your work in a timely and effective fashion. The problem with this is that as you leave school, there are not many outlets for short stories, at least not any more. There was a time when writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway could make a living off of short stories because they were in mainstream magazines and newspapers, but now short stories seem to be relegated to literary magazines and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong I love literary magazines and journals, but they’re not exactly mainstream and it requires writers to write in a certain way.
I wanted to bring back the short story in a fun and accessible manner. I wanted to go back to the era where short stories ruled and they just had to be well-crafted and entertaining and didn’t have to be literary –they certainly could be but it wasn’t required. So I thought about this for a while. How could I form a company? Where would I find writers? Then I realized I had a short story of my own that I had written as a writing sample for my agents to send along with my TV scripts, but there was no real home for it. So then I thought if my agents had me write a short story that would never be published there had to be others. I asked around and found I wasn’t the only writer I knew who had a short story lying about that was good but didn’t fit the literary magazine model. So I reached out to those writers, asked to publish their short stories and then did. I knew I was on to something when Mike Kelley the creator of the TV show “Revenge” sent me his short story ‘Dinner at Hackney’s’ and from there I kept going. I got really involved in social media and used that to expand and reach other writers. The #tuesdayshorts program has now grown to include writers like yourself from all over the world and I couldn’t be happier.
NK: What was the biggest lesson you learned writing for the “O.C.”?
CM: One of the first lessons I learned was that writing for TV is not solitary, which is great because it keeps you accountable. Not so great when you’re like me and you’re shy and young at the time. However, this taught me that my timidity was a weakness and something I needed to work on. Which I did and still do. I don’t know if it’s age or the fact that I got over my fear of public speaking when I started teaching yoga, but I think if I were to go back and work in TV today it’d be a much different experience.
The other lesson I learned is that you’re always going to have to start over. Even when you think you’ve made it, you still have to keep plowing through and keep writing. Just because you get one thing or a million things published or produced, there’s no guarantee that someone’s going to be knocking on your door on a consistent basis. You’re always going to have to hustle and make opportunity for yourself no matter how successful you become.
NK: Is there a link between yoga and writing?
CM: Definitely. It sounds cliché but the whole point of yoga is to “be here now.” Which really just means live in the moment. I don’t think you can be a good writer if you’re not constantly observing every aspect of every moment of your life. Of course, good writing also requires reflection and creativity but it all starts with that moment. As a writer the more you can observe all the moments of life the better off you’ll be.
NK: Congratulations on “Love Sick” which was published earlier this year. You pretty much bared your whole soul in the book, have there been any surprises in sharing your journey?
CM: Thank you. It’s funny you should say that I bared my whole soul in the book, because I never really thought about it like that as I was writing. I just thought I’m going to write my story in the most honest way I can so that others who might be going through something similar can relate. It never occurred to me that I was sharing my life with others because I still saw it as my writing.
Of course, when the book came out it became very clear that I had just revealed my whole life to the world. And I definitely had moments of panic. Moments where I would sit at my desk and try to work and literally couldn’t do anything. I actually had to take a Zanax one day because the anxiety got so bad. But I made it through, and now I’m so glad I published my book, because there have been so many people who have read the book and subsequently found me on social media to say thank you and that I helped them in some way or another and that’s really why I wrote the book in the first place. I wrote the book I needed when I was going through that tough time, because I never wanted anyone else to feel as lonely as I did.
NK: How do you keep going in a ‘slump period’?
CM: I wish I had some really profound answer for this one, but the truth is I just don’t know how to give up. I have spent years at a time not being able to publish anything at all or write anything worthwhile or there were times that I didn’t even write, but I still couldn’t imagine doing anything else so I kept at it.
I will say the one thing I have always done is to find jobs or volunteer work that placed me in proximity to other writers or creative types. When I graduated college I went to work for a TV/Film producer as an assistant, when I got let go from “The OC”, I volunteered for 826LA which is an after school tutoring and writing center created by Dave Eggers. When I needed a job after that I contacted all the screenwriters I knew and asked if they needed an assistant or researcher and I found a couple who did. This goes on and on. But here’s why it’s important, if I had given up or decided that I needed to find any old job to pay the bills I don’t think I’d be where I am today because every time I put myself in the vicinity of other professional writers I learned something about the craft but I also made connections that are still valuable to this day and I think that’s the most important thing. If you want to write, you don’t necessarily have to put yourself on a strict writing schedule but you need to be in the world of writers in some capacity.
NK: What advice would you give to new and emerging writers?
CM: Don’t compare yourself to others. If you know that you are a writer and you can’t imagine doing anything else, then keep writing. Keep surrounding yourself with other writers and other creatives. Keep creating a life that supports your writing whatever that means to you and don’t give up. I think the hardest thing for a lot of new writers to see is that the media and even social media makes it look like the writers who have “made it” did so without any struggle. But the life you see is just the sound bite version and the real life of any writer who’s “made it” was not easy. They struggled too. They probably still do. So stop comparing your story to theirs. Your story will come to fruition when it needs to, all you have to do is keep writing and keep honing your craft.
An excerpt from Love Sick by Cory Martin:
“You don’t get to eat my pussy for free!” screamed out the prostitute as she finished servicing my sex-starved neighbor. Let me explain . . . I believe in moments. Big moments, actually. The kinds of moments that you look back on later in life, point to, and say, “That’s when it all changed.” I like to theorize and hypothesize about why my life is the way it is today, and I believe those feline-inspired words at the top of this page are the reason I am where I am right now. My neighbor, who I’d nicknamed “Mr. Hacker” for his loud smoker’s cough that barked up phlegm and a congestion of noise on a nightly basis, had ordered a call girl that May evening of 2007. It was just about midnight on a Tuesday when I heard the moans of a climactic orgasm followed by a request for cash. A request that was, apparently, denied. Now, I see nothing wrong with a man in his sixties who weighs all of about one hundred pounds and looks like Timothy McVeigh ordering in a little vagina. But when he refused to pay the bill, and she threatened to call her husband to come and shoot him, then made mock shotgun noises, and he threw her against the wall, I drew the line and called the police. I called 911 and explained the situation.
Excerpted from “Love Sick” by Cory Martin. Copyright © 2016 by Cory Martin.
Cory Martin is the author of “Love Sick”; a memoir about dating, life in Hollywood and dealing with MS. Cory is the founder of Write Out Publishing, an independent pressed based in Venice Beach, California. Her essays have appeared online with XOJane, The Mighty and Elephant Journal. Cory has a BA in English-Creative Writing from the University of Southern Californian. By the age of twenty-five, Cory had garnered writing credits on the hit television show “The O.C.” and was asked by Scholastic to write three YA novels based on the same T.V. series. Cory is a passionate yogi, she teaches at various studios around LA, is the writer behind the documentary film “Titans of Yoga” and her book “Yoga for Beginners” was released in August 2015 by Althea Press.