Saying she wants to “reclaim her life”, Martha Stewart wants to begin her jail sentence as soon as possible rather than agonizing over the appeal process beyond the bars of a prison cell.

Martha Stewart, saying that she wanted to “reclaim her life,” announced today that she would surrender to prison authorities to begin her jail term as soon as possible instead of waiting for the outcome of an appeal of her case.

“I cannot bear any longer the prolonged suffering while I and my people await vindication in the next step of the legal process,” Ms. Stewart said at a news conference at her company’s headquarters in New York City.

“And although I and my attorneys firmly believe in the strength of that appeal, recent delays and extensions have now made it abundantly clear that my appeal will not be heard until sometime next year.

“So I have decided to serve my sentence now to put this nightmare behind me and get on with my life and living as soon as possible,” Ms. Stewart said.

In March, Ms. Stewart was convicted of lying to federal investigators who were looking into her sale of nearly 4,000 shares in ImClone Systems, a trade she said took place because of an agreement between her and her stockbroker to sell if the shares fell below $60. The broker, Peter E. Bacanovic, was also convicted of lying about the reasons for the trade.

Ms. Stewart was sentenced on July 16 to five months in prison, to be followed by five months of home confinement.

But lawyers for Ms. Stewart are appealing the verdict in her criminal trial, which could result in a new trial and a fresh wave of publicity about her Imclone sale in December 2001.

At a news conference, attended by lawyers for Ms. Stewart and senior members of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she said that she recognized that she had a “very tough five months” ahead of her and was sorry that she would miss the winter holidays. But she said she wanted to be back home in time to plant the “spring garden”.

Ms. Stewart said that her lawyer in the appeal, Walter Dellinger, delivered a letter today to the federal judge in the case, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, asking that the prison process begin.

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