So, start at the very beginning – Who Are You?
Nevin Martell is a freelance journalist, a photographer, an author, a writing coach, a dad, a husband, a forager, a gardener, and an experientialist.
What makes you dope?
I’m not big on self-aggrandizement, but I do love the career I’ve created for myself. My mantra is ‘Write your life.’ When I become passionate about something/someone/somewhere, I channel my excitement, energy, and desire to learn more into my work, which I hope is compelling and engaging for readers. I’ve gotten to talk to the most interesting people, eat the most incredible meals, and travel to the most intriguing destinations. But my work also makes me slow down and really think about thorny problems, including personal challenges. In a world that often moves much too fast for my liking, it’s nice to spend time contemplating an issue, consulting multiple, diverse resources, and then figuring out the best path forward (Bonus: I get paid to do it!). Writing makes me a better person, and I hope it improves the lives of people who read my work (even if I just turn them on to a new restaurant that makes them happy or gives them a helpful tip that makes their next trip go smoother).
Who was your first inspiration and how did you first learn about them?
My grandfather, Sam Murray, was a rare book dealer whose house (and every other structure on his property) overflowed with all the titles he picked over the years. I remember browsing the shelves, pulling out whatever attracted my interest, and setting myself down in a comfortable corner to dive in. That’s when I fell in love with writing and the concept that you could take an ephemeral idea in your head and turn it into something that could influence someone miles or decades away. I immediately wanted to harness this superpower and be a part of a larger continuum, while always staying connected to Grandpa, who passed away when I was still a boy.
What’s your happy place? Your favorite thing to do to bring yourself joy?
I have a lot of happy places, but here are a few: dinner with the family at A&J in Rockville; a long walk in Rock Creek Park; hanging with dear friends in the countryside outside Sperryville; having an oat milk cappuccino with my buddy Al made on his antique espresso machine; a trip to somewhere new.
Where do you get your energy and motivation?
Strong coffee and the desire to make my family proud.
What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
Balance means being comfortable saying ‘no,’ making time every day to be alone and to take a long walk, and continually reassessing my priorities.
What sacrifices did you have to make, or struggles did you face to get here?
For every book I’ve sold, I’ve had at least one other one get rejected. For every story I’ve published, I’ve had another one denied. For every new outlet I’m published in, another one passes over to me. Luckily, I’ve gotten increasingly comfortable with both rejection and uncertainty, coming to understand they are natural and inevitable – and a great source of motivation.
What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had? Or what advice would you give your earlier self?
Be kind, professional, and polite to everyone you meet. And never burn a bridge, even if you never plan on crossing it again.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
In my early thirties, I went back to school to get a master’s in broadcast journalism, because I thought I wanted to be a talking head on television. I hadn’t even finished the semester on radio journalism before I realized I didn’t want to pursue that career. At that point, the check was cashed, and I was locked in. For a little while, I felt like the world’s biggest fuck-up, but then I realized I could still walk away from the experience as a smarter, stronger person. I gave the program everything I had, learned everything I could, graduated with a 3.96, and still use many of the pitching and writing skills I learned during the program. Plus, during that time I reconnected with the woman who I later married, which was worth the cost of admission alone.
What was your proudest moment to date?
If I’m being honest: becoming a dad. My son is my world. On a professional level, I’m very proud of my book “Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip.”
ACTION: How Can We Help You Today?!?!
Buy my books! Follow me on Instagram! Hire me to write a story!
Bonus Brag – What are you currently conquering? Is there something exciting in the works? Next steps?
For over a decade, I have strived to become a children’s picture book author. I hope to sell a manuscript one of these days, so please reach out if you’re a CPB agent or editor.
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Love this! Nevin is one of my faves in the biz.