EVERY week, the Guyana Chronicle produces a Sunday magazine filled with exhilarating features and articulate storytelling. Whether it be a piece from a columnist or a feature writer, this supplement, the Pepperpot Magazine, is one of Guyana’s main avenues of telling stories from the people’s perspective. However, what we don’t often get to explore are the faces behind the magazine and its production.
This week the editor of the magazine, Jasmaine Payne, shared her journey on becoming a professional writer and editor and the importance of telling those stories to the public.
In an interview, Payne disclosed that her writing career began in print media in 2010 at Guyana Times; then she later went into writing as a freelancer, working for a number of magazines and local newspapers.
“I have been writing professionally since 2010- so about 11 years to be exact. I [also focused on] creative writing. I entered a couple of competitions- the Guyana Annual, the Commonwealth prize. Then I just felt like I wanted to be able to earn off of the craft and I decided to look into professional writing,” she said.
On the academic front, Payne then decided to align her studies with her professional interests. In 2017,Payne gained her Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of London and most recently an MBA in Marketing from the University of Bedfordshire.
“I got my bachelor’s degree in English and I realised that it was a lucrative business in Guyana. There was a lack of professionally trained writers. I did some editing courses and I got my degree and I have been writing professionally since,” she said.
Appreciation for the language
Not being a fan of the physical classroom, Payne attended university virtually while freelancing. She noted that being able to work and study on her own terms provided new insight into being disciplined. Additionally, she explained that her studies of the English Language widened her knowledge and love for the art of storytelling.
“When you study linguistics and the history of language, you realise that is really not just something that you grow up learning to speak- it’s really a science,” she said, lamenting: “I gained an extra respect for the English Language and value for the way that we used it through those studies and at the end of four years … my passion for writing and editing just really peaked.
And I knew that I wanted to align my career around that path,” she said.
Meanwhile, Payne explained that her decision to pursue studies in marketing coincided with her goals, because Marketing encompasses public relations and communications – both of which incorporate aspects of writing which she enjoys.
The importance of storytelling
Speaking about her work with the Pepperpot Magazine, Payne described her position as editor of the magazine as one that is unique and fulfilling.
“Feature writing is both a pleasure and hard work at the same time. For one, Guyana has a unique culture, very colourful, very dynamic, so when I speak with writers and I try to help them get stories or receive stories from them, it’s really a wide range you’re getting…and I enjoy the storytelling. I enjoy facilitating storytelling for the public because we do have a lot of interesting aspects of our culture that not a lot of people know about,” she said.
She added that sharing the stories of the Guyanese people and their unique ways of life has been a gratifying experience and a big part of her journey as a writer.
“It’s only when you see the responses via social media or for example when the reporters themselves go back into the communities and they get feedback…it’s really fulfilling to know that the work that you are doing, people are paying attention and they are appreciating,” Payne said.
Sharing some advice to writers, Payne highlighted that there are many layers and aspects to writing and that being called a writer goes beyond just the creative aspects. She encouraged budding writers to explore other types of writing if they are interested in making a career of it locally, as many other areas of the craft can provide that opportunity.