Friday, February 15, 2019

When is Our "Moment"?

If able-bodied agents and editors are waiting in their inaccessible towers for disabled and neurodivergent writers to have our "mainstream moment" in the industry, it will never come.  Because they don't care about our accomplishments or see our triumphs now.  Because our talent means nothing to them without an arbitrary form of relevance they help foster.  It's like someone who is self-employed waiting with growing irritation for their workday to begin.

If our "moment" rolls in with the help of able-bodied publishers, what will it look like?  Inspiration porn derived from our successes?  Scraps of pity from their feast?  Our stories are already (often) twisted for mainstream consumption.  Will those involved center us, or just use us?

Anticipating an inciting incident for a rise in criplit smacks of a fad.  Our stories are merely a trend to chase—vampire erotica will wax and wane alongside heroines on crutches.  And, when the "moment" arrives, it will be full of able-bodied/neurotypical writers flooding the market with crippled characters in two-dimensional glory.  Our lives reduced to cardboard and forever "othered".

No group of people is ever a fad.  We are not frivolous plot points.  We are not the latest fashion you can discard in a dresser next season!

Just because "the mainstream" thinks we haven't had our moment, doesn't mean we aren't relevant.  We are the world's largest minority.  We have famous writers and artists permeating our history.  We have writers crushing the hell out of things right now!  Our successes are not anomalies and not confined to a tiny capsule of days.

Mainstream media will tell you we haven't had our moment yet and they're correct—we will never settle for such a short period of time.  We own the future.

Friday, February 8, 2019

8 MFA Alternatives

January brought social media announcements of disabled writers going back to college.  Between those posts, I saw others lament their lack of degrees.  A lot of us, it seems, desire(d) a college education without the ability to obtain one.  If what you want is knowledge (and not necessarily the paper), there are alternatives out there.

The eight options below take a variety of approaches.  For the best results, mix and match.  There are probably more positives or negatives for each option than listed.

If you're continuing your creative writing education without a traditional college path, how are you accomplishing it?

Alternatives to an MFA:

1.  The library.

Pros:  Free, numerous resources, librarians to assist you with research, Internet access, most libraries are at least somewhat accessible, go at your own pace.  Some even have Gale Courses.

Cons:  No consistent guidance, finding what you need might prove tricky, no critique or mentorship.

2.  Auditing college classes.

Pros:  Real college experience, guided learning, no pressure to turn in assignments.  Reduced cost (but not free).

Cons:  Accommodations might not be made for your needs, no participating in discussions, limited (or no) access to professors if you're struggling, timed commitment.

3.  Online courses.

Pros:  Stay home, certain classes have group discussions, more flexible schedule, guided learning, instructors may be available to help you.

Cons:  Time commitment required, some classes cost money, technology used might not be right for every disability.  Some places allow anyone to post a "course", so you have to be cautious.

4.  A critique/writing group.

Pros:  Free, feedback/advice, possible support outside the group.

Cons:  Time commitment required, local groups might meet in inaccessible places, you might end up using your energy on other people's work more than your own.

5.  Conferences.

Pros:  Connect with industry professionals/other writers, interesting panels, possible pitch sessions, readings.

Cons:  Most conferences cost serious money and aren't accessible.  Online offerings are meager.  Not great for long-term education.

6.  Subscriptions/services.

Pros:  Literary magazines can expose you to new work and styles; reading them also gives you insight into what they publish.  Writing magazines can keep you updated on publishing news and give you editing tips.  Some services submit for you and/or keep track of where you've submitted.  Delivered to your door.

Cons:  Costs money (and, with submission services, a lot), limited information, no interaction, you'd need quite a few different resources to cobble together a well-rounded experience.

7.  Workshops.

Pros:  Feedback/advice, instructor-lead sessions, some instructors might be writers you admire.

Cons:  Same as conferences, except there seem to be more workshop opportunities available online.

8.  Mentors.

Pros:  One-on-one advice/feedback, more relaxed interactions, can help open doors or shape a career.  Free (hopefully).

Cons:  A bad mentor can mess you up worse than a bad conference because of the trust and proximity of the relationship.  Finding the right one is difficult.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Applications for Mentors Open Today!

Disabled and neurodivergent writers, today we open for applications from volunteer mentors for our 2019 term! Established writers will agree to work with emerging ones in our community during the months of August and September.

Things you need to know:

1.  This program can't pay anyone involved.
2.  We'd like at least one mentor for teens this year.
3.  We try to check out everyone before accepting them. (No bigots, liars, etc.)
4.  Everyone participating should write in English. No geographic restriction.
5.  This program is for disabled and/or neurodivergent people only!
6.  Applications are due March 31st.

An overview of the program is here.
For application questions, please click this.
We have a FAQ page here.

Thank you for considering our program!  Without our hardworking mentors, this wouldn't exist.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We can be reached via email (, on Twitter (@HandUnPen), or in the comments below.