"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!