I’m moving on, and taking Jesus with me.

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A shot from Paul Schrader’s film FIRST REFORMED

On January 6, I sat in my car outside a laundromat and pulled up Twitter to see how the certification of the election was going. Not good.

I’m sure I don’t have to describe the sick ache in the pit of my stomach, that bizarre mix of “this is both utterly shocking and completely predictable” that has become a hallmark of the Trump era. The familiarity doesn’t make it any less traumatizing.

Aside from and in addition to everything else I’ve felt since then, there’s a major realization for me that the end of this administration is also the bookend to the long loss of my faith as I knew it. More precisely, the loss of my faith in the commonality of a group of people who claim the identity “Christian.” …

Misconceptions and assumptions are rampant, and almost killed me.

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Photo by Mykenzie Johnson on Unsplash

November is National Diabetes Month, which means it’s a good time to cut through the jokes (“Just looking at that cake is gonna give me the diabetuss har har”) and the misinformation (“Cinnamon and turmeric can cure you!”) and talk about what it actually is.

As a type 1 diabetic (also known as “juvenile diabetes,” which is a potentially dangerous misnomer ), I’ll going to focus on that and the things I find myself repeating over and over to people who don’t understand this disease but think they do.

  1. It’s an autoimmune disease. That’s right! Something goes haywire in a type 1’s body, and beta cells in the pancreas are attacked from within. As cells die off, the pancreas can’t do its job: i.e. make insulin. What does insulin do? It carries the energy (aka glucose) made from food out of the bloodstream and into the muscles and organs and systems that use that energy to keep you alive. …

I had issues with the original Freewrite; will I send up selling the Traveler, too?

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Astrohaus Freewrite Traveler

I am a sucker for writing gadgets — especially anything that taps into my aesthetic pleasure center. Why would I write with a ballpoint pen I got for free at a motel when I could spend $80 on a fountain pen? Why use a drugstore composition book when there’s an entire world of French paper to explore? My credit card is often smoking from orders of pens, paper, ink, journals, apps, keyboards, and my stockpile of now discontinued Alphasmarts.

When a gadget promises a distraction-free experience and functionality, I’m even more intrigued. This is why, years ago now, I was an early backer of the Astrohaus Freewrite via Indiegogo. The promise of a beautifully designed smart typewriter thrilled me. Mechanical keyboard plus e-ink screen plus connectivity allowing me to sync and email myself my work with the press of a button? …

A careful reading of the NXIVM story reveals some familiar truths.

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Photo by Alex Eckermann on Unsplash

A few years ago while my husband and I were fully absorbed in Leah Remini’s A&E show, Scientology and the Aftermath, I turned to him and said, “And so what? Why do we care about this?”

Fair question, and one I’ve also found myself sometimes asking about the HBO docuseries, The Vow, about a small group of escapees from a cult or community or group or company — depending who you ask — called NXIVM. …

Figuring out celebration when you grew up in dysfunction

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

“Many of us who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes had little time or opportunity for play. Faced with adult chaos, much of our early life was spent in survival mode.”

This is from the October 5 meditation in this little book of daily affirmations published by the Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service org. It comes two days after my 50th birthday, a big one in terms of life milestones.

I spent it all by myself. A few days ahead of the Big Day, I drove the 700 miles from where my husband and I are living in temporary work-related housing to our own home in another state. …

Life beyond the Medium aspiring-writer-industrial-complex

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Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Back when I started writing, we didn’t have blogging or online journals or digital platforms of any sort. (Yes, I am very old.) The only way to get work in front of other people was to craft it to the best of our ability, do lit journal and publisher research at the library, then put the printed-out thing in the U.S. Mail and sit back and w̵a̵t̵c̵h̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵m̵o̵n̵e̵y̵ ̵r̵o̵l̵l̵ ̵i̵n̵ wait.

Oh, how we fretted and argued about fonts and cover letters! We learned how to fold SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelopes) — big ones if we wanted our manuscripts back, small ones that would only contain a rejection note. …

The word might have more baggage than you realize.

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Photo by Alice Dietrich on Unsplash

Remember the word “creative” when it wasn’t a noun or a corporate job? Once upon a time, it was an adjective, describing a person or a thing. That’s what I’m talking about here.

Some of us heard that adjective used in relation to us very early on, for better or for worse, depending on the values of our family and community.

In some families, to be “creative” was a good thing. It meant, Wow, you’re a person I find inspiring and interesting! Or, Yes, you are one of us.

In others, it was a label used in opposition to something else. As in: You’re creative but your brother is athletic. Or You’re creative; your sister is the brain. Or, You may not have a promising career ahead but, hey, you’re creative.

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Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Forget “Always Be Selling” — ABL is the new ABS

When I budget out my freelance expenses every year, no matter how tight money is I know that I’m going to spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on continuing my education as a writer. It’s a line item I call “professional development,” and I don’t consider it an optional expense.

I’m far from a beginner. I’ve won awards for my books, have been a National Book Award finalist, and have seen a project go successfully from film option to movie. …

The wisdom I learned in my writing career applies to many areas of life and work.

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

In the writing world, the process of getting and giving feedback is familiar, normalized. Many of us start out in workshops or classes, reading each other’s pieces and offering constructive criticism. If we haven’t been in a formal workshop or class environment, we mind find a writing community online or a writing partner with whom we share work in hopes of making it better.

I started drafting this article with writers in mind, but as I went through each step, I realized that all of this advice is transferable to just about any context in which you might be seeking feedback. Most companies have at least some sort of procedure or policy in place to facilitate this, but what if you’re a freelancer? …

How I used Scrivener, Canva, Kindle Create, and Word — and the most important tool of all.

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Photo by Olivier Giboulot on Unsplash

In ye olden times, producing multiple copies of a written work so that others could read it involved the meticulous process of setting type letter by letter to make the plates that would then be loaded into the press, inked up, and voila — after many many hours of back and eye strain and perhaps a touch of lead poisoning — you had a book.

I love printed books, but am glad that when I have some writing to share, I don’t have to make one myself! Instead, I can make an ebook. Previously, I wrote about the why:

And the…


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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