Friday, January 27, 2017

Upcoming Changes (Need Your Help, If You Can)

In the next couple of weeks, we will be adding more resources to this blog.  There will be two new pages, one for "mainstream" literary magazines found to be inclusive/receptive to disabled/neurodivergent writers, and the other will be for what little information we have dug up on grant opportunities.  Each literary magazine will be recommended by at least one person in the DisLit community.

For those of you who don't know, we are going to begin paying for guest posts in the spring (probably May).  Writers will be paid $3 per guest post, regardless of length.  At this time, we can only make payments through Paypal.  We will also pay the same amount for book reviews.  We will be acquiring two guest posts and/or book reviews a month.  Interviewees do not get paid.  We are trying to practice what we preach, writers should be paid.

We would also love to run a writing contest this year, but don't know if we have the financial means to do so.  If you know an organization that would like to sponsor it, have them get in touch.

Now, the "help" part:  If you know of any grant opportunities, inclusive mainstream literary publications, accessible conferences/retreats... please let us know.  We're trying to grow huge resource lists, but we can't do that without help and feedback from the community.  When we put up our lists, and you find a resource that's truly not welcoming, let us know and we will remove it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sagamihara: Six Months

Half a year.  Such a small thing, weeks and days marked off a calendar, seasons change.  A milestone no one would ever want to exist.

I can find no new developments on the trial of the murderer.  And, as thought, no new information on any victim has been released.

Did Japan's disability activists begin working after the tragedy?  Is there better safety now for those who live in group homes or care facilities?  Were there any new regulations passed?  Was there concern on the part of lawmakers at all?

We are vulnerable, but we are also fierce.  As the future seems more precarious. I think of Sagamihara more often.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Future of Our Disabled Writers

Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is either incredibly ignorant or downright vile.  She thinks equal education for disabled students should be a state issue, not a federal one.  This comes not long after the concern over remarks Jeff Sessions (Trump's Attorney General pick) made in the year 2000.
Here is another article on the DeVos issue.

The budget cuts Trump wants to make while in office are trickling into the light.  A few of the (many) things of note include The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatization of National Public Radio/PBS.  Arts and culture aren't important in this new age of coal plants and corporations, regardless of how little funding they consume when compared to the entire budget.
Funding is difficult enough to secure as an artist.

Other countries are providing their own turmoil and anxiety for their disabled/neurodivergent citizens (Brexit, for example).

If there is no going back (and if things are as bad as they seem), future generations of our disabled artists might not be properly educated, much less supported in their endeavors.  Some might even be pushed away from creating altogether, something that can literally save their lives.  Students with multiple marginalizations (our children of color, our QUILTBAG kids, our Muslims, etc.) will be at an even greater risk of being left behind.

Of course, it could be a wonderful four years, though I'm beyond extremely cynical at this point.
The future generation of disabled/neurodivergent artists will always need the current generation to guide them, support them, show them it is possible to limp, roll, or walk this path.  They might need us a lot more in the next four years (please, please not eight).  Engage aspiring disabled/neurodivergent artists in discussion, become a mentor, Tweet about your favorite disabled writers or post your drawings on Facebook, buy books or art by neurodivergent people, submit to magazines or help someone else do it, volunteer with art organizations or start an after-school group, pass on information for grants.

There are a plethora of ways to support our artists, present and future, no matter what your budget or experience/activity level.  No act is worthless.

We will make it through this to a better, creative horizon.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Shunning Certain Types of Literary Magazines

"I won't submit my short story to Absolutely Awesome Journal because it isn't a publication on disability.  They won't accept my piece," one disabled writer says.

"I don't want to be pigeonholed as an autistic poet, so I only send to mainstream literary magazines, omitting my neurodivergence," confesses an aspiring poet.

I understand both points of view.

A magazine focusing on disability won't reject someone because of "hard to relate to" (read:  The disabled perspective) elements.  It can feel more welcoming.  Discrimination (against disability, no guarantee over other marginalizations) isn't a worry.

Few writers, on the other hand, relish the thought of becoming a "mainstream" journal's token.  No one wants their publications list suspected of being filled with "pity credits".  And, who wants the impact of their work plagued by the dreaded "inspiration porn"?  Keeping everything under wraps can seem the way to go if a person wants more options.

No way of piloting a writing career is completely wrong (though, certain things will limit success and opportunity) but there are some things to consider:

1.  Limiting submissions to disability-related publications means the audience reach of a writer going that route is small.  Spreading out equals more readers getting acquainted with a writer's work.
2.  Only submitting to mainstream publications means a missed opportunity to connect with the DisLit Community.
3.  There are thousands of "mainstream" literary magazines, but only a couple handfuls of disability-related ones.  Not submitting mainstream cuts off (most) chances to get work out there.
4.  Ignoring disability-related literary magazines steals more chances for publication, though not as many as ignoring mainstream ones.  Plus, editors might "get" certain references easier if a writer is struggling to find a place that understands a particular piece.
5.  Submitting to all publications writers admire/read/find suitable won't necessarily brand them "those neurodivergent artists".  Most literary magazines don't research a person beyond what's in a biography, so the flash fiction piece appearing in Dis(Advantage) Commons won't "out" someone who's afraid of discovery to an editor.

A writing career isn't easy.  Why put limits on yourself and where your work can go?
I have already put together a list of links for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers, including many literary journals with disability slants (which will grow with time).  I'm now endeavoring to make another list of truly inclusive literary magazines and presses without a disability/neurodivergent angle.  I'm taking recommendations for those who've had good experiences with a journal, or know of a magazine that publishes cripples beside the able-bodied, the neurotypicals beside the divergents.

And also:  If you have a great conference, retreat, or residency to recommend, I'd love to know about it.  I received one recommendation for a place suitable for Deaf and Hard of Hearing writers!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Difficulties With Resolutions

First, an announcement:  The group for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers is back on Facebook.  It is a closed group, so you have to gain approval.

Writers and Poets with Disabilities Facebook group.  "This is a group for sharing ideas, new publications, articles, and so on based expressly around being a writer who identifies as having a disability."
Each time a new year hits, everyone is awash in the euphoria of resolutions.  Some are going to get fit, others working, still more are going to quit something.  We all know by now that resolutions often fail.  We lose our enthusiasm, our drive.  It becomes too hard to keep up with.

I used to believe in resolutions.  New year, new chance.  It seemed like the best time to reinvent myself or alter my life.  But, like many people, I never stayed the course.  Unlike most people however, I would berate myself for months and make myself feel like a failure.  My resolution wouldn't take into account my body and it's various eccentricities (the stamina I don't have, the pain of daily life, the shoddy immune system).  It would be an impossible goal.

A lot of disabled/neurodivergent people do what I used to.  We push too hard.  We compare ourselves (and our accomplishments) to people who have no similarities to us other than being carbon-based lifeforms.  Add being writers into the mix, with aspirations of successful, prolific careers, and things get even messier.

And then there's the resolution-shaming.  Your aunt kept up her resolution to Jazzercise three times a week, so she always says she's more "committed" than you.  Coworkers make snarky comments about your "latest fiasco".

In lieu of a resolution, I pick a word for the year.  It could be a trait I want to pick up, or a reminder of something important.  In the past, I have chosen words like "believe", "persevere", and "hope".  So far, I haven't chosen my word (or short phrase).  I'll keep you posted on that.

If you are set on a resolution for yourself, please be gentle.  Pick something you can control, something that gives you leeway for your health or life challenges.  Don't stress over an incomplete achievement, one halfway done is often better than one not tried.  Celebrate your milestones (and yourselves) often.

May 2017 be amazing.