Tuesday, July 12, 2016


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"?

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