Dream vs. Reality by Sydney Salter

Ten manuscripts and four published books into my writing career, I still picture myself writing in a cozy attic room in a house perched on a high rocky cliff, overlooking a churning gray sea as gulls screech across the sky in the slanting rain.

I live in Utah, and while The Great Salt Lake is plenty salty, it's hardly a churning sea. Sometimes seagulls peck at garbage in my grocery store's parking lot. I write in my living room overlooking my bookshelves--and the occasional exercising neighbor.

At some point I saw a Barbara Cartland interview that inspired my early vision of an author's life, but my writing life is not nearly so glamorous. I live in a mostly messy house, mostly because I'd rather be reading than cleaning. I do have dogs. Cats. Tortoises (beguiling little salad eaters!).

Before actually sitting down to write novels, I figured that magic, if not glamour, would be involved. Not merely dogged persistence. And actually sitting down.

Often when people first meet me, and discover that I am a writer, I find myself bumping up against their dream of what comprises an author. Magic? Glamour? Mystery? And here I am looking so...so normal. Maybe even boring. That seems to be intimidating to people--as if there's something lurking unseen.

Yeah, I know, I think to myself, as I watch people try to figure out what to make of me. I thought I'd be glamorously penning books perched in an attic above the storming sea. Not like today, scribbling away at the Barnes and Noble cafe in a strip mall in a dull suburban town in Utah.

But that's the reality--and it works.


  1. What is is about that attic room overlooking the churching sea? I feel like this must have been a book or a movie or something at some point, because I too have this crazy romantic vision in my head, but I've since learned that attics get too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter and oceans have this pesky habit of flooding. So, I'll settle for my boring old office.


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