A little more info on Adverse Childhood Experiences

I mentioned ACEs in a little post recently, and when I popped on today I saw a post from Wil Wheaton bringing attention to a new org founded to help folks with the effects of their ACEs. Check out Wheaton’s post and NumberStory.org for more. And if you like data, explore the CDC site—especially the findings of the big Kaiser study. Why is this info on the CDC site, you ask? Because the numbers show that our childhood trauma is directly tied in to our physical health as well as our mental health.


Untangling overlapping diagnoses.

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This recent piece from Gillian May resonated with me, especially when she writes this:

Although I believe that people with ADHD were born with “different” nervous systems, I do think there’s a component of trauma that may interact with this nervous system creating these unique behaviors and perceptions.

In fact, I’ve got several posts of my own sitting in drafts that get at something similar, which is that when you’ve got adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or trauma in play, it can be really difficult to pull apart what’s what when it comes to neurodivergence.

Some of my…


I don’t care, I’m doing it. Maybe you should, too.

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In ye olden tymes…

If you’re old like me, you may remember a time when it seemed like every other article you read on the internet was about leaving the internet.

The height of this was around 2010–2012, when social media had hit its stride and we’d all had a few years of navigating it under our belts. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains and Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget were out (both great reads, by the way), and any number of journalists and bloggers were…


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I just read yet another article on Medium that seemed full of good information, if only I could figure out what the article was about without having to get waist-deep. Here’s a very easy tip for any piece that’s supposed to deliver information:

Define the thing.

That’s it! That’s the tip!

Let’s say your article is titled, “How to Debug Your Crankshaft.” Start out with a simple definition of what a crankshaft is and what it does. Then carry on.

You might think, “clearly this article is only for people who already know what a crankshaft is (or a VPN…


Money is a terrible measure of the worth of your work.

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Full disclosure: I write for money.

I am what they call a “full-time writer.” Meaning, it is the primary way I make my living (or my “living,” depending on the year). I’ve written ten books, nine of them published with the Big 6 err Big 5 uhhh soon to be Big 4. I get paid via the traditional advance-against-royalties setup. I’ve gotten big, small, and medium advances. Sometimes I earn out, sometimes I don’t.

When I’m not writing books, I do a little freelance writing and some teaching and some consulting and coaching. …


This piece from Walter Rhein gets at something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I’ve been working on my own post tangentially related to this stuff. Basically, after 15 years in traditional “big 6 →5 →4” publishing, I’m tired of so much about it. The irony is that the segment of it that I’m in (children’s and YA) sees itself as crusading for justice and diversity. Yet the output is remarkably homogenous and, yes, elitist, on all kinds of fronts. More on this soon!


If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 20 years of writing and hundreds of conversations with other writers, it’s that most of us struggle with some form of imposter syndrome. And it’s never not a relief to hear another writer— especially a very accomplished one — say it again. I love how Susan Orlean puts it here:

This also has some great tips for making a big project manageable. Right now, I’m working on a longform piece that supposed to come in around 3,000 words. And even though I’ve written 90,000 word novels, it feels like a lot. …


They can come from anywhere.

Mr. Donut has no idea the inner turmoil he’s causing me!

When I was a kid, we had this cat. (Not this cat, this cat is Mr. Donut.) I’d tell you her name except that it might compromise several of my passwords so let’s just call her Kitty. Kitty came from the shelter on an impulse of my dad’s, as I remember it, and was brought home on the bus. She had a lot of problems throughout her life, including it being the seventies when shelter spaying wasn’t common, so there were two litters of kittens along the way.

Anyway, it being San Francisco, fleas were…


Some thoughts about minimizing childhood trauma & experience

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I was chatting with some friends recently about family stuff, and one friend said, “I didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional home, but…” and went on to describe some dynamics that made others of us say, “Yes, actually that is a dysfunctional home.” That got us onto the ways we’ve all perceived our various situations as “not that bad.”

There have been lots of times in my own life when I thought of my own childhood as “not that bad” in the course of wondering why it affected me the way it…


It can be complicated.

Photo by Emily Rose from Pexels

“Denial is the glue that holds together a dysfunctional home. Family secrets, ignored feelings, and predictable chaos are part of a dysfunctional family system.” — BRB, pg 22

I wrote about this quote from the Big Red Book a little in my journal the other morning, and it got me thinking that though the word and concept has become very familiar in general conversation, the experience of it can be extremely complicated.

In my family, for example, I don’t ever remember a time when we were in denial that my dad was an alcoholic. …

Sara Zarr

I’m a novelist and I also write about writing (and writing-adjacent topics), personal growth, and growing up in an alcoholic family system. sarazarr.com

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