Jul 16, 2014

While Cooking Sunday Dinner

by Andilyn Jenkins

I'm sharing this short narrative to illustrate two writing tips.

1. Sometimes, the meat comes after I cut the first three quarters of what I've written. And, while the other three-quarters were, of course, brilliant, they were unnecessary. So, don't be afraid to cut your hard work if it means highlighting the best stuff.

2. Allow your writing to go somewhere unexpected. I began this piece because I wanted to write about the contentment in my home on Sunday while our family made dinner together. And while the other three pages have a lot of fun imagery and dialogue, this moment outside that I almost didn't write about turned out to be where I was able to scratch out that feeling.

I'm sure many of you have sacrificed more than three pages to the "pre-writing" gods. Tell me about it in the comments below or just let me know what you think. (smiles:)

While Cooking Sunday Dinner

Outside, the wind shakes the orange trees’ branches and they shimmy uncomfortably like busty old women. And before I hear the pinking on the roof, I see the grey spots appear on the cement patio. “It’s raining!” Aaron announces to the house as he heads for the backdoor and slides it open. I pick up Evan from his Bumbo and sit him in my arms, facing out. 

                                                                                                                   I found this picture here.

The monsoon weighs down the Arizona heat, so when Aaron opens the door, the air swims powerfully over my face and through my nose. It wraps itself intimately around me, folding warm blankets fresh from the dryer but still damp from the wash around my index fingers, ears, calves, knee caps, neck, hair roots. I step barefoot onto the warm concrete and walk just far enough to get dusted with the starter rain drops. Then I inhale the dirty rain. I have loved the smell of rain wherever I have lived, but in Arizona, my home town, it smells like baptism. The dust, dirt, and oil washes the streets, bubbles in the gutters, and floods dry, grassy retention basins.

Evan feels the raindrops tap his arms, feet, and face and blinks into the sky, making sense of the heavens. With a furrowed brow, he reaches one hand out and tries to capture a drop in his squishy fist.

I blink the rain from my eyelashes and look out, making sense of the earth. Sunshine in Arizona bleaches my perspective. But overcast days unveil the desert’s colors: green leaves, magenta bricks, white trunks, orange, brown, red, blue, silver, grey, rust, yellow. The swimming pool reflects what it sees like a pair of sunglasses and turns deep grey as the water rustles and plops, churned by wind and raindrops.

Tasks wait inside—dishes, cooking, playing. But here, mother and son get polka-dotted by the rain. While I drink in smells, colors, and sounds, Evan concentrates on the sky and plays catch with angels pitching him raindrops.

(Feel free to check out some of my other narratives and poems over at Andilyn Thinks.)


  1. Lovely post, Andilyn. I soaked in the imagery! Well done. And yes, I have sacrificed a plethora of pages from my pre-writing stages! hugs~

  2. Andilyn, my post came up on your day but I posted it after midnight today. Sorry about that.


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