Friday, July 29, 2016

DIY Writing Retreat/Residency

Writing residencies (some call them retreats) are days, weeks, or months spent out of the house, scribbling furiously and (hopefully) making headway on a project or even finishing it.  The new location energizes and removes some of the pressures of daily responsibility.  Just a writer... and time to write.

Residencies vary greatly in length, location, and cost.  Since most writers can't afford the expense, or being away from a job or family for weeks, do-it-yourself retreats are gaining in popularity.

But, when you're disabled, some options for DIY retreats aren't available to us.

~ Swapping houses for a weekend with another writer you trust is an almost zero-cost retreat and a good choice... unless no one has a place that fits your accessibility needs.  
*But you may have friends whose houses will suit your needs, so keep that in mind!
~ Some of us can't travel hours from home. (More than one article I came across said, "Oh, travel at least two hours by vehicle to really get into the right mindset".  Yeah, sure!)
- Our medical equipment won't fit into some hotels.

Hotels aren't necessarily a bad idea, though.  Even in my city of less than 10,000 people, there is a hotel with accessible rooms.  It can be a relaxing option close to home.  The bad part?  Over $250 is the cost just for a weekend, which many of us can't afford.

An option for some who want to write in nature are national parks.  Many parks are handicapped accessible, some with cabins you can rent for around $30 a night.  In America, disabled people can apply for an Access Pass that reduces or eliminates fees to certain aspects of a national park.  Since there are many parks, chances are decent there is one within a comfortable distance.  Days do fill up fast though, so plan ahead!

Have you ever went on a writing retreat?  How did it go?  Have you ever thought about a do-it-yourself one?

This may be the start of a small series of blog posts.  Let me know if you find it interesting!







Friday, July 22, 2016

Tomorrow is #CripLit Chat

Tomorrow, at 4pm Pacific/ 7 pm Eastern, there will be a Twitter chat focused on disability and fiction writing.  Please check out all the details here.

It seems this will be a series of different chats covering different genres in the future.  I encourage everyone who is a disabled/neurodivergent writer to come out on Saturday and (at least) read what everyone has to say.

See you there, maybe!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Visibly Disabled Writers and Media Gigs

We all know attractive authors get more publicity and there is evidence that better book deals are given to beautiful writers, regardless of what people may say to the contrary. We also know inspiration porn is pretty prevalent in our society.  So, where does that leave writers with visible disabilities?  I could be wrong, but I'd say nowhere good for most of us.

Disability is considered unattractive (and media is responsible for perpetuating that viewpoint).  We are already at a disadvantage then, before we even submit a manuscript.  And if we aren't the thin, white, cishet, person who acquired a disability instead of had it from birth?  Oh, geez.  Even getting published could be an exercise in immense luck, much less finding outlets for promotion.

Society's need for inspiration porn might get certain disabled writers an interview (and again, the "right" kind of disabled) but the focus would shift from the book to the writer.  How wonderful that a cripple can write!  How much harder is it to write a book as a disabled person?  Wow, folks!  Your book will now be "that novel written by that gimp who appeared on that show".  Don't get me wrong, people might remember your television/radio debut that way anyway, but the focus the segment takes will almost guarantee it.

I suppose some of us, if we want, could attempt to play on media's need for our "uplifting" stories.  I'm certain some disabled writers out there wouldn't mind trying to capitalize on their difference.  And, while others will condemn them for adding to a problematic cycle of crippled misrepresentation, I'm unsure how I feel.  Should we press our every advantage (no matter how slim or unconventional) or are some things just not worth it?

I want to know:  If your disability could help you into the spotlight as a writer, would you use it?  Would you care if you became another case of inspiration porn if it meant getting your name out in the world?
~~~~
And before anyone starts the "but" train:  Yes, I know all writers have problems getting media coverage.  I know the vast majority of writers wait years to (if they ever) get published.  I'm not downplaying anyone's struggles, so no ableist harassment, please.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pigeonholed

Every writer working in a specific genre or writing a certain type of story thinks about being pigeonholed.  For those of us writing about disabled and/or neurodivergent issues, it can get tricky.  We want to have the freedom to write about whatever we want, apart from us or a part of us.  Once we're known as the "disabled person writing about disabled themes", however, it's a super glue spiderweb we can't escape from.

Some writers don't mind being pigeonholed.  They know what their audience expects and are happy delivering it.  It's a kingdom to build upon.

The rest of us aren't quite as thrilled at the thought.  Not exploring whatever we want chafes like sandpaper underwear.
There is always the option to use a pseudonym, of course, but not everyone wants to take one.  Starting a fan base from scratch can take more energy than some of us have to give.  The thought of an editor accidentally publishing the story under your real name can cause anxiety (it happens).

Society likes to keep authors and poets in categories.  It makes it easier to find books someone likes, but organization also makes people feel safe and part of something.  To have minorities writing about ourselves is more acceptable to the majority because (to them) it's mental segregation on a micro-level.

Once we start crossing creative lines repeatedly, however, some able-bodied/neurotypical people get uncomfortable.  How can we accurately write books for/about them, they wonder, since we're supposedly so far removed from them.  (They never consider not writing about us because their knowledge, creativity, and skill are beyond reproach.)
It's just easier to keep us on one side of the line, inserting us (and our work) into rooms without doors.
~~~
It helps, I suppose, to cover a wide variety of topics/themes/characters from the start of your career if you don't want to be tied to a "type".  Not every reader will hop around with you through different projects but many will still be around, regardless.

Are you afraid of being pigeonholed?  Are you okay with being known as "that disabled/neurodivergent writer"?








Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Review: The Hunger Inside by S0rceress0

Image:  An alley at night with rundown buildings on the left side.

Sam, a respected chief in the military, develops PTSD in the line of duty and retires to live life as a civilian.  After a false start, a string of bad luck, and the help of some unlikely people, Sam discovers something that gives her purpose… opening a restaurant in a rundown section of a city.

I liked Sam.  She’s a tough, biracial heroine who is confident, yet flawed.  She doesn’t take anyone’s crap and keeps the drive to obtain her goal even with a myriad of obstacles in her way.  She learns lessons from those she meets with a humble, open mind.

There were only a couple of tiny grammatical errors that didn’t distract from the story at all.  There were also no real formatting errors, though there were a few times the scenes jumped without a cut to indicate the scene change which was (only briefly) confusing.

The pacing in the beginning of the book seemed a little awkward at times, speeding through some aspects like they weren’t a big deal (though they affected Sam’s actions) and slowing down where it felt unneeded.  Once the book gets rolling, though, the pace feels just about right.

This book is great at showing equality and the difficulties in people`s lives, but there are some scenes and conversations that are only used as a way to bring up social issues with no other real point, even introducing characters for one such discussion and then having them disappear, never to be seen again.  Sam does learn things from these conversations, but it doesn’t always seem to benefit the story.  The dialogue beyond that issue (and a few info dumps) is fine, even witty without pretention, in spots.

The minor characters in the book to stay were quite eclectic and charming. I especially loved Elizabeth, a young woman with Down Syndrome who comes to work as a part-time employee. 
There was a section of another story within this book because Sam, at the time, was reading a fantasy novel.  I must be honest here, it pulled me too far out of the book and I thought things would be better served without it.

The settings were vivid.  Everything was detailed (sometimes, it felt a little excessive).  The restaurant seemed like a second main character and I could picture it clearly.  I wanted to go in, sit down, and talk to Sam for a while.

PTSD was portrayed well, I thought, as were the other disabilities/neurodivergences present in the novel.  They weren’t more focused on than the characters that had them, but weren’t swept into a corner, either.  It kept my eyes on the person, what they may do differently, and why it doesn’t matter one damn bit.

There was absolutely no romance or sex in this book, which I found refreshing. Outside of a mention of Sam finding a man attractive, that was the end.

And speaking of the end, it didn’t feel cheap… or easy.  It felt right, though other readers may not agree.  The last page makes an impact.

This book is a worthwhile read.

Interested?  Grab your copy here:  The Hunger Inside at Amazon.com
You can also visit her website.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Do You Want a List of Resources?

There are a handful of literary magazines that are disability/neurodivergent-friendly.  There is a writing contest or two.  A few grants are specifically available for disabled artists.  As far as writer retreats and conferences, I have no idea.

I haven't found a comprehensive list of resources for disabled/neurodivergent writers.  I'm wondering:  Should I create one?  Would any of you find it beneficial?

I'm only one person.  If I make this list, I'm going to need your help.
~~~~~
What does an accessible conference or retreat look like for you?  If I'm going to be contacting people, I should know what someone other than me needs to fully access a place.

What magazines/retreats/contests/other resource do you know to be open to our community?  What has been your experience with them?

Could you please ask for recommendations from your other disabled/neurodivergent writer friends, acquaintances, or family members?  The more information we can get together, the better.

Well, I guess I'll wait and see what everyone thinks.
Thank you.