Cynthia Newberry Martin’s (she/her/hers) first novel, Tidal Flats, won the Gold Medal in Literary Fiction at the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards and the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Fiction. Her website features the How We Spend Our Days series, over a decade of essays by writers on their lives. She grew up in Atlanta and now lives in Columbus, Georgia, with her husband, and in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in a little house by the water. Her third novel, The Art of Her Life, will be published in June of 2023.
MORE ABOUT ME
I write novels about relationships, about how characters navigate between separateness and togetherness. About how they balance the need for both time to themselves and time together. About what compromise does to a person’s sense of self.
My early stories, essays, and reviews appeared in Hunger Mountain, Brevity, Gargoyle, Contrary Magazine, Clapboard House, Storyglossia, and Numéro Cinq. For a number of years, which I think of as my crazy years, I served as the Review Editor for Contrary Magazine AND the Writing Life Editor for Hunger Mountain AND I was in graduate school AND in a writing group.
In 2012 I graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Creative Writing. Later that year, I was awarded a residency at Ragdale, where I stayed in the Playroom and threw pages from the tower down the stairs… In 2013, because Pam Houston and Karen Nelson needed a third body, I became a founding board member of the literary nonprofit Writing by Writers. The workshops are set in gorgeous places with excellent faculty, and you will find me there selling faculty books.
I have a big family—four children and their significant others and six grandchildren right at this moment. If I have any free time and can stay off my computer, I clean out a drawer. At night, if it’s been a long writing day, I confess to a series over a book—something I need to work on.
GOING WAY BACK
I grew up in the sixties in the heart of Atlanta, went to college in North Carolina, spent a year teaching English in France, practiced law, and had kids. But through all of this, and especially when the kids were little, I was a reader. So when I had some free time in the late 90’s, I thought, books are cool and writers are cool. Maybe I can do what they do.
Spring Street Elementary School (now the Center for Puppetry Arts) in Atlanta, GA (K-6th), Westminster High School also in Atlanta (7th -12th), Davidson College in Davidson, NC (BA), the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, GA (JD), and Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT (MFA). Huge thanks to all my teachers. Forever grateful.
Currently, I spend my days in Columbus, GA, with my husband, and in Provincetown, MA, in a little house by the water. Provincetown is my favorite place on earth.
T h e A r t o f
O u r L i v e s
I’ve been on this planet for 65 years, and I have a hard time understanding how that’s possible. How did the little girl that I was turn into the woman that I am? Is she still there? It feels as if I’ve lived my life mostly on the inside and for the past decade, I’ve been trying to excavate it. I feel tremendous gratitude to have been allowed all these years, and what I’m doing now is the best of the best.
Still, I want more. I always have. My mother was fond of saying how glad she was when I turned 16 and could run my own errands. But I have all these ideas, all these plans, all these lists. I want to figure out how to be in the world as I am in my head.
In an effort to master the art of my life, I’ve found my way to a number of writing projects, all in an effort to get my insides out.
365 True Things
Back in 2014, I hit a low spot. It felt as if I were nothing but a writer who had not published a book. I knew that wasn’t true, so at the beginning of 2015, I committed to a yearlong project where I wrote one true thing about myself each day. By the end of the year, I had relearned that not only was I so much more than no book; I was also so much more than a writer.
60 to 60
I took the 60 days leading to my 60th birthday and spent one day with each of my years, looking at photos and remembering all I could about that one year of my life.
This is 57
When I turned 57, I wrote an essay about how it felt to be 57 and how I was spending these days.
This is 58
When I turned 58, I wrote an essay about how it felt to be 58 and how I was spending these days.
My Reading List
When I was in third grade, I kept an index box with a card for each book I read. At some point, I threw it away. I’ve always regretted that. These days, I keep a record of every book I read. That list goes back over a decade. That’s me, the scribe.
Back in the 70’s, when I was living in France, I used to read Elle Magazine, and each week they featured one woman and how she spent her days. In 2009, I launched a series on how writers spend their days. Currently, I have over a decade of essays from over a hundred writers on how each one spent one of their days.
This is 60
When I turned 60, I wrote an essay about how it felt to be 60 and how I was spending these days.
This is 65
When I turned 65, I wrote an essay about how it felt to be 65 and how I was spending these days.
An Important Task
“She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.”
–Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life