Friday, October 13, 2017

The Freebie Writer

Not every disabled and/or neurodivergent writer is on a program like SSI/SSD (or your country’s equivalent).  But, for those who are, writing can be a dangerous game… well, publishing can be.

Writers are told never to write for free, never set our books at “zero”, and never let anyone take advantage of our skills.  Writing is an art, yes, but also an act that takes a fair bit of work.  Setting aside how small projects like literary magazines often can’t pay, we’re all supposed to go out and remind people that ours is a profession and should be treated as such.

If you’re on a government assistance program however, the amount of money you can make is limited (at points, extremely) and the release date of a book might inspire more fear than feeling of success.  Those of us on “welfare or benefits” know how little it can take for the government to look at your income and say:  “Well, you don’t need us anymore… or your medical insurance”.  For the majority of us, no medical insurance means death.

So, those who still long to be published writers seek out ways to get their writing into the hands of readers in ways that won’t mess up their (literally life-saving) insurance.  They self-publish and offer books for free (or ninety-nine cents).  They embrace literary journals that don’t pay.  They take writing assignments more for the byline than the check.

People not receiving SSI/SSD would consider this horrible.  Why, if we can make money, would we ever decide not to?  Don’t we want to be independent?

Writers rarely make the type of money that would cover the expenses of multiple medications, hospital stays, power wheelchairs, weekly counseling, and a number of other (quite expensive) necessities.  Many of us would need hundreds of thousands per year to cover our costs.  And writers like J. K. Rowling are the exception of what a writer can earn, not the rule.  If we could support ourselves (and be rid of bigots who turn our lives into a cost-benefit analysis) we would. Maybe a few of us will even get to that point.

We will write however we can, for as long as we can, and do whatever possible to get our words out there.  But, we must also be safe and secure in the knowledge that we will have insulin tomorrow, or the ability to go to our dentist appointment next month.  No one else is asked to choose between their passion and their lives, and it shouldn’t start now.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Cancer Treatment Hiatus

Dear everyone,

After much consideration, I've come to a decision today to share my secret.  I'm still uncertain about it because I don't want to hurt or scare anyone.  I don't want people angry I didn't say anything sooner.  This is not a joke, or a lie, or plea for attention.  But, I feel selfish for revealing it all.

I have cancer.  I was diagnosed in late June with Uterine Cancer, grade one.  A mass was found on my cervix in April.  A surgeon has said I'm definitely at stage two and (possibly) stage three because a couple of nodes in my pelvis also show signs of the disease.  Outside of the nodes and residual cancer from where the tumor was, no other cancer exists.  I started external radiation therapy on Wednesday.  I'm not a candidate for a hysterectomy.  I refuse to ask about my odds, but seem curable.

I'm telling everyone this so people understand when I'm not posting on my blog, responding on social media, or have to say "no" to gatherings or opportunities.  Treatment is five days a week in a town about 45 minutes from my apartment... it leaves me drained and hurting due to chronic pain.  I'm not used to going out so often.

Please be patient with me as I go through this.  It's been a rough year.

For more information:
I have some automatic posts going up this month on my blogs, but then they'll go silent while I heal.  I will still be active on Twitter.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Desperation Gives a Pass

We know there are few resources for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers.  We want it to be different, but it isn’t.  There are, however, a ton of resources for writers in general, some we can use… many we can’t.

Disabled and neuordivergent writers are often excluded from the world of “general” writers.  If it isn’t a workshop being up ten flights of stairs, it’s a literary magazine editor admitting they dislike working with neuordivergent writers (yes, it has happened).

Because there are so few places open to us, because there is so much out there for writers most of us cannot access, we often make excuses for the very people who don’t think about, or care about, our inclusion.  We hope they’ll do better and defend them when they repeatedly fail to make their spaces welcoming.  We hope, if we keep reminding them that we’re here, they will decide to fix everything.

A prime example of this is AWP (one of the largest organizations for writers).  Every year at their conference, things are not accessible.  Every year, people with disabilities are treated like crap by some of the volunteers when they need help.  Every year, there are stairs where there shouldn’t be.  They have gotten a fair amount of criticism for what they haven’t fixed.

But, a frighteningly large amount of disabled/neurodivergent writers make excuses for them, berate other disabled/neurodivergent writers for taking AWP to task, and cheer the organization whenever one little thing out of a thousand is addressed.  I hope The AWP Conference continues to improve upon their commitment to ALL writers but, after this long, I’m not holding my breath.

Just because a group, organization, conference, or residence caters to a lot of people, doesn’t mean the lack of accessibility should automatically be brushed aside as the organizers being “too busy”.  Something that is established with a lot of people behind it has even less excuse, I think, because there is enough money and time to include EVERYONE in their plan.  Well, everyone who can afford to attend an event, which is a different post.

Even things like online classes and workshops can have barriers, though it is probably more accidental than intentional.  I, myself, am still not sure how to make a website completely friendly for all my disabled/neurodivergent people and hope (if one of you comes across a problem) you’d let me know how I may best rectify the issue.

What do you folks think?  Do some disabled/neurodivergent writers give too many passes and make too many excuses for the larger literary community, or am I wrong?