Jennifer Kan Martinez

"Sailing on Light"

Welcome, writers and storytellers.  As you soar through life, wings flapping furiously, may this be a little rock for you to perch upon, rest for a while and maybe find some inspiration.


spaces after periods


Am I the only person who is still using two spaces after a period? I just learned that that way of doing things became outmoded, oh, a decade ago. What?! I knew I lived under a rock, but gosh, am I the only one who still thought two spaces after a period were A-OK?

So, here we go, transitioning to a sentence followed by just one space. It seems like such a minor detail, but as this article from Slate (from three years ago!) points out, the people who are used to using two spaces feel it is very correct. Yup. 

So, in with the not-so-new and out with the super-old. We're getting rid of clutter at home and extra spaces in our writing. Rock on.


how to see rejection

This post invites you to see rejection through a different lens-- one that is a great deal more encouraging than how most of us interpret rejection.  May it empower you to put yourself out there with confidence.

My Ultimate Rejection Story (Chosen out of Literally Thousands) by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I have a number of rejection stories. I’ll bet it’s a larger number than the best guess in your head right now. I’ve written a sort of “best of” series of my rejection stories into Anne’s and my new book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE—and Keep your E-Sanity

Each of the stories is meant to illuminate rejection, to show that it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

At first you think it means the work is no good, you’re not a good writer. But then how can you reconcile the fact that my short stories were rejected an average of 17 ½ times each before going on to find a good home without further revision? (You’ll read that story in our book.) Okay, so then you figure the work may be good, but you’re trying to place it with the wrong publisher. But if that were true, I wouldn’t have placed my first short story with the same magazine that issued my most vicious rejection. (You’ll also read that one.)

Now, hopefully, you’re almost where you need to be, thinking rejection really only means that this particular editor won’t publish this particular work. Hold onto your socks for what comes next: It doesn’t even mean that much.

This is the one I consider to be my ultimate rejection story.

I’d had an agent who marketed Walter’s Purple Heart to no avail (25 rejections!) and wouldn’t even take on Pay It Forward. Hated it, hated it, hated it. (Told that one in the book, too.) I told her to send both home to me, and then gave them to a newer, hungrier agent.

The new agent sold Pay It Forward to Chuck Adams at Simon & Schuster, who then immediately asked what else I might have. Out of the drawer came Walter’s Purple Heart.

He bought it in a six-figure deal right before Christmas.

Why is that my best rejection story? Because one of Walter’s Purple Heart’s 25 previous rejections was from…wait for it…Chuck Adams at Simon & Schuster.           

And he knew it.

His statement on why: He said Simon & Schuster had changed. They didn’t used to let him take on the smaller, more literary works. Now they did.

My statement on why: My career had changed. A book he might not have successfully marketed as a debut could be much more saleable as a follow-up to Pay It Forward.

So there you go. The true story of rejection. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that any one particular editor won’t buy that work of fiction. It just means he (or she) chose not to buy it on that day. Later, things can change. Reader tastes, the book industry, or your name recognition.

Here’s a final question before I move on from the subject of rejection.

I once received a plain, printed rejection from a small literary journal on my short story Nicky Be Thy Name. But they accepted the next story I sent. In a phone conversation with the editor, he remembered “Nicky,” and referred to it, saying he’d come within “a hair’s breadth” of taking it.

Now, I hadn’t known that. He hadn’t said. I just figured he didn’t like it.

When we get a rejection back in the mail, we usually don’t know the process the work has gone through. We don’t know if one paragraph was read by an editorial assistant (translation=first reader, probably straight out of college) or if our work made the rounds of all editors and survived everything but the final cut.

Here’s the question:
Why do we always assume the editor(s) hated it, that we have been branded as hacks? Why don’t we ever assume that it came within “a hair’s breadth” of acceptance, and is being returned with deep regret?


walking improves creativity


This recent Stanford study found that walking stimulated more creative thinking.  They compared every variation of people walking and not walking, from people on a treadmill facing a blank wall to people being pushed in a wheelchair outside, initially hypothesizing that being outdoors in nature would be the variable that made the difference.  Instead, the people walking on a treadmill facing a blank wall performed better.  So, if you're feeling stuck in a rut, get moving...




This is why it's great to have a blog, even if you aren't actively posting every minute.  A kind man in London found my (personal) blog and invited me to join his community of writers, and it's a great exercise to write these 800-word or less pieces.  Especially if you've only been working on novels and 25-page assignments for years.

Feeling stuck?  Write a little 200-word essay on your house.  Or your childhood.  Or your best friend.

Need a little inspiration but don't have time for a great Russian novel?  You can browse by topic-- love, parenting, loss, spirituality.  Whatever you're in the mood for.

So, I just started, but this is what it's like: you get your own page, or you can see everything in a format similar to pinterest, but with stories instead of pictures.  My first piece is about a four-year-old's take on marriage and only 100 words long, and my second piece is more of an essay on how to get over someone.  You can do anything, write anything, and be in a supportive community of writers.  So, if the way to constantly improve your craft is to keep working at it, it makes sense to work at it in a variety of ways.

The weekly challenges are a great way to start.  This week: write about your first...

Have fun!




This quote is one of my recent discoveries, and I hope it inspires you like it inspired me.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 
― Ira Glass