Dear Young Me (Sydney Salter)

Dear Young Me,

You're looking at the wrong role models. The Spanish Civil War is over. You don't live on the moors. You're not a flapper. You're in Nevada. In the 1980s, not the more romantic 1880s silver mining era. 

Don't discount those who believe in you. Why dwell so long on that sarcastic "wonder woman" comment made by one of your teachers? Years later you'll buy yourself a rocking wonder woman necklace to remind you NOT to let others bring you down. 

You'll fill notebooks with practice writing during lunch breaks at your boring first jobs. Sometimes it will feel fruitless, and, oh, how you'll crave kind comments from workshop teachers, but they won't come often. Years later when you read Malcom Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule, you'll realize that's what those notebooks represent. You didn't need praise, you needed practice.

Raising two daughters will finally give you the courage to write your first novel. You'll realize that you can't revise the dumb stuff you say as a mother, but fiction can be repaired and repaired and repaired, so why worry about doing it poorly the first time? 

You're going to be so intimidated at your first real writing conference. You'll sit next to a perky, confident young woman who will make fast friends with the guest agent. Wow, she's good at talking about her work-in-progress! You'll offer to show the agent the location of the bathroom, and the agent will ask you not to pitch to her as she pees. You'll think, people do that?!?! Your next thought, I look like someone who would do that?!?!? 

That perky writer? She still hasn't finished that novel she pitched so well. You've written ten manuscripts and published four.

Sometimes things will feel awful--like losing that first agent you adored. And that other one. Yikes. That one will write you an email so cruel that you'll only let your husband read it. You'll have to fight hard to get your mojo back. That agent will leave the publishing business. 

But you'll still be writing, pushing yourself, experimenting with new stuff, submitting, dealing with rejection, submitting, writing, revising, trying and trying. You know who your role model should be? 


Older Me


  1. I don't understand why some people are cruel. Even if they are very unhappy.

    1. Great post--and such a smart comment. I needed to hear that, April!

  2. What a great letter! Don't let those haters bring you down! Cruelty is not necessary.


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