Dec 14, 2010

How My Kitchen Gets Clean by Susan Wingate

When I look at my kitchen after dinner--the pots and spoons, knives and plates, measuring cups and spatulas, all lining my countertop and falling off into the sink--I think "first draft." It takes me a while to scrape off the food into the compost bin and to rinse off all the dishes and utensils but finally, after a good deal of parsing out the mess and then wiping down the counter, my kitchen looks tidy, is back to its original organized state and I can take a deep breath in. It's done. And, isn't it appropriate that I'm writing this article with a kitchen analogy while I'm completing the final book in the Bobby's Diner Series?

But, really, that's what a first draft of a novel looks like to me, a messy kitchen. You know the story is underneath the mess and after a little scraping, wiping and cleaning, it will look polished, it will look clean. So it is with writing. We must clean our novels before we let anyone read our stories.

For my latest release, EASY AS PIE AT BOBBY'S DINER, I had help with cleaning my novel. I would like to call her a maid but I don't think my editor would appreciate that. But, boy oh boy, did she ever work that kitchen! When she finished, she sent me the story with all editions in tow, and together we re-organized the mess. As with any job, it's always good to have help and writing the novel is no different, especially at the end.

Look. Here's what it's like around my house. Everyday I write. Everyday I cook. Everyday I edit. Everyday I clean my kitchen. If you're starting to see a lack of glamour in the writing biz, then bully for you. It's all work, all of the time. Then, after working you have to shop, vacuum the floors and cook dinner... again!

I have found myself getting up earlier and earlier just to get everything done. Writing comes first. After knocking out a couple thousand words, I check my email, check Facebook and any other pressing business that needs attention and then I go back to my writing and look at that first draft mess. Pull out my dusting rags, my scissors and my eraser and get to work scouring my first draft writing.

Do I sound tired to you? I'm thinking I might sound it, but I'm really not. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my job as a writer. I love being in love with a job! So, excuse me a sec, but I have to leave before my ink dries. It's so much harder to scrub out stains than to simply wipe off a spill.



Award-winning author, Susan Wingate, gets a monthly column about writing and the publishing industry in her local newspaper, The Journal of the San Juan Islands. She will also be posting weekly discussions about the writing industry for the regional online newspaper, the site.

You can view Wingate’s discussions by clicking on the “Entertainment” tab and then finding Wingate’s discussions under the “Blogs” section of the Entertainment Page.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona to James & Amie Ajamie (a writer and an artist, respectively), Susan Wingate tried to fly, at age five off the roof of their family house using newspaper, wire hangers and scotch tape. She’s been dreaming of flying ever since. Oh, by the way, she never jumped. Her mother ran out in the nick of time to stop her from take-off.

Wingate realized her dreams when she entered the world of writing. At first, she only wrote songs and poetry but then her writing blossomed when she tried her hand at fiction. In 1997, she devoted her days to writing and in 2004, she began writing full-time. Since then, Susan has written several plays, one screenplay, one short story collection and seven novels with two more scheduled to be written in 2010. In 2008, she started writing a memoir.

A lover of the arts, Susan draws and paints abstracts using oil as her favored medium. She has taken up playing the violin (it’s been a squeakly start) and she loves the theatre. Susan lives in Washington State.

To date, Wingate has written seven novels, two short story collections, a memoir, hundreds of poems, a few plays for theatre and one screenplay.

Her books can be found online and in bookstores across the country and her articles, short stories and poetry can be found in magazines, journals and reviews.

Locally, Wingate volunteers with the San Juan Island Library. She offers workshops, readings and presentations at writing conferences, bookstores and libraries throughout the country.

You can visit her website at


  1. Thank you so much for allowing me space on your blog to wax on about first draft issues! You're the best. -Susan.

  2. very interesting post to read. I was enjoying while reading. It is a inspiring piece of writing. thanks for sharing.