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Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

Please note: I made some decisions and drew some parameters in this personal essay. The generally and stylistically preferred terms/constructions are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and person-first language,. In this essay, I use “ASD” and “autism,” and “people with autism” and “autistic people” interchangeably. I also lean on the crappy terms “low” and “high” functioning, for simplicity’s sake only. When I specify gender, I’m not including sex, but include anyone with that gender identity. I also did not address the barriers my trans and enby family face with the same issues.

In the 80s, we didn’t talk about Autism Spectrum Disorder. …


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Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

I cannot write my novel.

Not can’t write. I’m physically capable of the act of writing. I mean, I wrote this.

Not don’t wanna write. I wanna. I wanna hard. And, even if I didn’t wanna, that would not be the issue. I’ve done this long enough to know inspiration is bullshit, and the stuff you write when you feel afire is not one iota different than the words you feel like you have to drag to line up in sentences (seriously, write inspired, write uninspired, go away for 2 weeks and tell me you can tell the difference. …


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Photo by Ángel López on Unsplash

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) on professional envy.

I made two embarrassing errors:
~ I called it jealousy, when I should have called it envy. Jealousy is when you fear someone covets what you already have. Envy is when you covet what others have.
~ I was trying, still, to be a bit cutesy about the whole thing. I’d never had a straight conversation with anyone about envy, and I was, frankly, nervous. I held back a bit.

Revisiting it, though, the gist of it holds true. Envy is a big, ugly secret. But it’s a normal part of a writing career. I encourage you to take a look at where I started the conversation, then come back to these addenda — the subtext and the even bigger, uglier, normal bits I’m going to blab. …


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Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

“The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn’t one.”
Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Hi. My name is Caren Gussoff Sumption. I’ve been a professional writer for more than 20 years. I’ve published 5 books. I’ve been anthologized more than 100 times. I’ve won awards and fellowships and even a medal. I wrote the chapter on setting for the writing book, The Gotham Writers’ Workshop Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School, which you may, even, have on your shelf.

But no, I can almost guarantee that you’ve never heard of me. …


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Photo by Kyaw Zay Ya on Unsplash

I’ll never win the lottery. I’m not going to space.

And probably, though not definitely, I don’t have a future as a tenured professor nor a lighthouse keeper.

All my life, I’ve planted little seeds, marvelous dreams, some statistically unlikely. The others, well, I didn’t nurture well enough to bear fruit.

I made decisions; we all do. Some were good, some terrible, but all were decisions and all were mine. I don’t routinely buy lottery tickets; I didn’t join the air force. I didn’t attend an Ivy League or enter an uncrowded field. …


I started writing, in earnest, because I thought I had something special to say.
I made it my career when I realized I didn’t.

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The writer’s way is rough and lonely, and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, such as, say, cleaning out ferryboats?
The New York Times, 1957

When I was a tender, young writer, this quote offended my tender, young sensibilities.

I was a cocksure ingenue, ready for the labors of Hercules — if it led to my initiation into the mystical, holy cabal of writers. Writers who both shape and bear witness to all which is human, true, and universal. There could be no profession more gracious or full of grace.

I was ready to make literature. …


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Photo by Virgil Cayasa on Unsplash

Difficulties with personal relationships, emotional and behavioral dysregulation. Two pillars of two disorders, with a particular, peculiar manifestation in girls and women, cisgendered or trans. Two diagnoses. Two sides of the same coin.

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in my 20s, after a difficult childhood and adolescence, lived at the intersection of not-entirely-Westernized cultural values, familial trauma, and financial hardship.

Bluntly, I was a strange, smart child and an angry, stubborn teenager out of place everywhere, always.

BPD answered as many questions as it, simultaneously, raised. Its cornerstone treatment, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) gave me some skills to make myself, well, more palatable to the world, to mitigate my nature in the “ways that count.” …


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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Note: I wrote this guide in 2019 to fill, IMHO, a serious gap in individual education around mental health. There’s tons of info on finding therapists, but very few directed for when we already feel overwhelmed and horrible, when doing the thing we need most is hardest.
This is a revised, abbreviated version of the guide.
Also: I’ve made reasonable attempt to include functional and relevant links. None of these links should constitute endorsement; they are provided for information only. Also, nothing in this guide should be considered medical advice. Always speak to your physician or health care provider when starting or changing treatment. …


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Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Note: I wrote this guide in 2019 to fill, IMHO, a serious gap in individual education around mental health. There’s tons of info on finding therapists, but very few directed for when we already feel overwhelmed and horrible, when doing the thing we need most is hardest.
This is a revised, abbreviated version of the guide.
Also: I’ve made reasonable attempt to include functional and relevant links. None of these links should constitute endorsement; they are provided for information only. Also, nothing in this guide should be considered medical advice. Always speak to your physician or health care provider when starting or changing treatment. …


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Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

Note: I wrote this guide in 2019 to fill, IMHO, a serious gap in individual education around mental health. There’s tons of info on finding therapists, but very few directed for when we already feel overwhelmed and horrible, when doing the thing we need most is hardest.
This is a revised, abbreviated version of the guide.
Also: I’ve made reasonable attempt to include functional and relevant links. None of these links should constitute endorsement; they are provided for information only. Also, nothing in this guide should be considered medical advice. Always speak to your physician or health care provider when starting or changing treatment. …

About

Caren Gussoff Sumption

Writer, dabbler, bon vivant. Nerdy words for nerdy people.

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