Finding New Ways To Succeed by Sydney Salter

2020 has been especially isolating for me--I am married to a health care worker who carefully preserves a single-wear mask for weeks at a time. Every time he works, he might bring Covid home. The fear takes up way too much space in my brain way too much of the time. I am unwilling to risk passing the disease to anyone, so I isolate all the time. I still Zoom with my writing group and I've joined a new anti-racism book club that meets on Zoom (I've actually made friends in quarantine). 

I couldn't work at all for the first few months as we figured out this new normal - and tried to prepare for so many unknowns. I probably gathered too many dried beans. Our adult daughters moved home for several months. I relished the opportunity to spend quality time with them--while they chafed at their suddenly stunted lives, so it was a weird mix of fun and existential angst. Way too much angst. 

I have managed so much stress in 2020. I have also found a new way to work. 

I've always focused on one project at a time. In 2020 that left me with too many days when I couldn't find the mental space to work on my next chapter. Or I'd be too busy researching home air filters. Or looking for new recipes for dried beans.

So I decided to work on my next project--something that I've wanted to write forever. Something just for fun. Unlike my WIP it's still perfect in my imagination. Full of possibilities rather than problems that I'll have to wrestle with in revision. 

So on the days when I'm feeling focused, I work on my WIP--eight chapters to go--and then SO many revisions to come. So many problems to fix.

On the days when I'm feeling ugh--like the day after my husband's preschool-aged patient lost a parent to Covid, I research my next project. I sit and take notes, even if only for a half hour. 

I have also leaned into the isolation--the time away from everything, including self-imposed deadlines. 2020 will end soon, but the aftereffects of this year will continue for a long time. That gives me time to support my family. But it also gives me time to polish my work. No need to rush anything right now. 

2020 has helped me find new ways to succeed, and new ways to define success. 


  1. I'm totally with you on new definitions for success. And those recipes! I've been doing most of the cooking for me, my brother, and my parents. Take care, Sydney.

  2. Oh Sydney! Too much stress indeed. I'm glad you've found a way to escape, even for a little while. Sending healing, healthy hugs to you and your family. xoxo

  3. We all gathered the beans and struggled to figure out how to write and what to write. You're not alone. Thanks to your husband and your family for the risks you take. Sending masked HUGS!


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