Women and Adversity:
Susan Wingate, Author, Part I
Susan Wingate’s creativity spans a multitude of genres, so fans of mystery, thriller, memoir, fantasy, young adult, inspirational, family drama and a sprinkling of romance have nearly two dozen titles from which to choose. Add her blog, webinar series and other writing endeavors, and a picture of a very dedicated writer emerges. Wingate’s wry humor and easy-going style are evident in her answers to my questions.
JAM: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you decided to become a published writer?
SW: I had always wanted to write and started writing songs and poems in my teens. As I got older, I realized I would need to pay for my own rent, gas and groceries, so I looked to other careers. I was a bookkeeper before getting an accounting degree and starting my own business.
Transitioning from accounting to writing was a major and difficult step. I enjoyed the money I could make as an accountant, yet I loathed accounting and loved writing. After my father died in 1996―who, by the way, was a writer himself―I remained in Phoenix for the next twenty-two months until heading off to Washington State in an RV which housed several pet birds, my dog, my cat, a rabbit and a fish. Unfortunately, my fish didn’t handle the trip well and ended up dying in transit. I guess you might say that writing killed him and yes, I call him a him but one never truly knows the sex of a fish, does one, unless one spots said fish spewing out eggs.
Anyway, the road trip took two-and-a-half days over 2,000 miles so not only did my desire to write involve a major move, but it also involved a major transitioning of a mindset from one of science-based in law and math to one of arts involving storytelling and language. I had to bend my brain in the opposite direction, flip it on its head and turn it inside-out. And it wasn’t easy.
I felt a natural compulsion to quantify everything I did with writing―track sales, of which there were none so that didn’t take long, to setting up a website and trying to attract traffic. Mind you, websites were just coming onto the “scene” by the mid-1990s. In fact, I once tried to put out my tax accountant’s shingle on the internet. It was 1995 and I got a response back who, to this day I believe, was Bill Gates slapping my virtual wrists and telling me that the internet wasn’t for marketing business ventures. Well, I guess he had a change of heart because now look at what we have in the way of the internet. You can’t burp without seeing an ad somewhere touting someone’s new website. But I digress…
So, I had this overwhelming desire to put numbers to everything even when numbers were unwarranted. Thank God for chapter numbers, right? What I really needed to do was to simply sit my butt down and write. How I got through my transitional hump was to write with a pen and paper because I always felt a computer was for work―tax work. I would avoid the computer until I had a goodly amount of handwritten work done then I would plunk that work into a Word document, save it and close the file.
Since those early days of writing, I only handwrite stories if I can’t locate my laptop which never happens because I eat, drink and sleep with the thing. My whole life of writing is in my laptop. If it were ever to be stolen, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. But then, I forget…I have every file saved in Dropbox. I could just buy another darn laptop, is what I’d do.