Friday, April 28, 2017

Links of Interest Page Has Been Updated

We have added three new publications to the Links of Interest page.  We are starting to run into roadblocks regarding sites that have been abandoned.

Next week, we'll hopefully have a larger update for the Inclusive Mainstream Publications page.  That is, if brain fog or chronic pain doesn't keep us from it.
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Final note:  Found this listed on the Writers and Poets with Disabilities Facebook group and thought it might benefit some of you to have it listed here.

Stormé DeLarverie writing residency for under-represented writers (writers of color, both American and international, including Native peoples, as well as, disabled people, and those who identify as LGBTQ+).

An honorarium of $500 will accompany the residency.

https://balticwritingresidency.submittable.com/submit

The application fee is $15.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sagamihara: Fear and Anger

The second the news hit, the media put the butcher in the same category as his victims.
He's sick.  He's mentally ill.  We should pity him, really.  He's just like them.

No.  He isn't.  Don't twist it so that he's "a victim himself".  To describe a horrible person's actions as mental illness harms the disabled/neurodivergent community.  We needed the focus on the true victims.  Things like ableism are due to ignorance, hatred... but not mental illness.  This attitude makes it easier for future violence against disabled/neurodivergent people because it paints us into "the volatile other".
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Then, there are the people on the perpetrator's side, people who see disabled people as having a partial life (as though having no life is more merciful-- better than having limits).  People who see disabled people as leeches who give nothing to the world.
The people who think disabled/neurodivergent people don't deserve something as vital as breath scare me.  People who don't see the humanity in others should scare everyone.
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All these months later, and I still haven't found one update on the survivors.  I haven't heard if any new security measures were added to care centers.  No one outside of the disabled community spoke up after the attack beyond the usual words of "terrible", "tragic", "poor people", or similar.

Maybe things changed that I didn't hear about because I'm in America.  Maybe people are more protected now.  I can hope that's the case-- hope and remember what happened.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our Mentors

Are you a disabled/neurodivergent writer who mentors?  Are those you mentor disabled/neurodivergent?  How did you find each other?

Most writers find their mentors at college or, failing that, at conferences/workshops. So many disabled/neurodivergent writers never had the opportunity to go to college (or were forced to drop out).  Few conferences are affordable or accessible.  The ways for us to find mentors are limited.

The Internet is often the only way disabled/neurodivergent writers can find one another.  But, even with social media, connections are mainly tenuous or peripheral.  We congratulate one another, share the occasional submission opportunity, commiserate about ableism in the industry, and then go back to the grind alone.

A lot of writers, especially disabled/neurodivergent writers, are self-taught.  Some of us write in secret, not having a single person in our lives to encourage us.  We're used to not having someone to guide us.  But a lot of us wish things were different.
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Few of us believe we're capable (or accomplished enough) to become mentors.  There is always an invisible mark we feel we must meet before we reach out, a place in our careers that grants us the ability to lend our knowledge.  It's a falsehood, but a persistent one.

Then, there are disabled/neurodivergent writers who would love to mentor but can't and feel horrible because of it.  I wish they wouldn't.  As an artist, your creations should come before assisting someone else with theirs.  If you can barely sling words, don't worry about everyone else's.  
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I wonder how many of us have mentors-- or want them. 
Do you want a mentor?  If so, does it matter if they're disabled/neurodivergent?  
Are mentors overrated in this technological age?

Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Real" Disabled Writers

I saw a conversation on social media about disabled artists needing more resources.  I nodded along as I read, having seen this play out a hundred times in various forms.
About halfway through the conversation, I paused.  Someone said something to the effect of, "Writers with Bipolar and Depression aren't real  disabled writers because the nondisabled populace is accepting and supportive of them and people expect writers to be depressed."

So, some people being (somewhat) more supportive in certain circumstances and in certain ways negates a disabled and/or neurodivergent writer's needs?  Negates their disability and/or neurodivergence entirely?  Makes their creative output not part of the disability community?  What utter bullshit!

The sentiment that Condition X, Diagnosis Y, or Disability Z is not as deserving because it's supposedly not as stigmatized smacks of Oppression Olympics.  People with mental illnesses and/or neurodivergences are often not believed, not taken seriously, and so on.  Wishing for a bigger spotlight on disabled/neurodivergent writers is a good thing, wanting to steal another person's candle because you consider them not as worthy is shitty.

Why the hell are we spending time bitching about the faint light our neighbors may be getting and not banding together to procure larger portions for us all?  Focus your energy and frustration on creating something better, not destroying someone else.  We are all in this together.  This is our community, enrich it!
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One last note:  There is NO hierarchy of disability/neurodivergence.  People who acquire their disability/neurodivergence are not "better" than those who were born with theirs.  Physical disabilities aren't more chic than cognitive ones.  Quit that.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Writing Rules (are Often Alternate Facts)

I get tired of endless "writing rules" lists given out by every halfway decent writer and craft blog.  Most rules aren't rules, have never been rules, and will never be rules.  They are merely tips, helpful to some writers but potentially harmful to others.

Below are some of the more common "rules every writer should follow" and why they aren't always beneficial.

1.    Write every day.

Many disabled/neurodivergent writers can't write every day for various reasons.  Telling a disabled writer with migraines the week he can barely function should be spent writing is damaging.  It tells him (and the rest of us) we're not dedicated, that it's a moral failing and we'll never reach our goals because we are too lazy. It might cause us to hate ourselves or push ourselves until the point of injury.

2.  Nothing beats a pen and paper.  Get away from the screen.

And what about writers who can't write longhand?  Some of us can't hold a pen, much less compose a novel with one.  Every rule that states there is only one way to do something is almost always wrong and excludes a bunch of people.

3.  Keep a journal.

Journaling can be a healthy outlet and a primer for future words.  But it can also take the little bit of time someone with chronic illness has to devote to their current project away from them.  A person might only have two days a week (or less) where they feel good enough to write. The focus should be on where the writer needs it most.

4.  Never take more than X amount of time for Y project.

Why?  Why does a task have an expiration date (if not trying to meet an editor's deadline)?  Even the people who give this kind of rule can't agree with one another on time limits.  How long is writing the first draft of a novel supposed to take-- three month, a year?
A lot of writers use these as a yardstick to measure their success.  If it takes them longer... they feel like a failure.

5.  Seek advice on your work... and act on it. (Said at points with no caveats.)

Another set of eyes on a writer's work is helpful.  Telling people to trust that someone else automatically knows the work better than they do is not helpful.  Some people have confidence and/or social issues that make a blanket statement about near absolute trust almost dangerous.

I could go on with these.
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Many writers admit there are few (to zero) rules of writing that can't be broken.

Write when you can, as true as you can.  Learn new things when you get the chance.  Read in whatever format works (braille, audio, large print, etc.).  The rest will come.