Monday, July 16, 2018

New Poem in ETTT & Personal Stuff

My poem, "Consumption" was published in the new issue of Eye to the Telescope yesterday.
It feels weird, having publishing news so close together... but great, too.  I'm receiving even more rejections behind-the-scenes, so it's nice to know all my efforts aren't bouncing off into failure, just most of them.
My personal news:  

Someone dear to me is still in the hospital.  He's been there since about the beginning of the month with a bad infection that even landed him in the ICU for a fair number of days.  He seems to be making progress, though.  The people who love him are holding onto that fact.
I need another test for another medical issue.  The gastroenterologist said it could be a common issue or I could be dead in a year.  Reassuring, right?  Since I had cancer, all the rules around what seems innocuous enough are darkly bent.  The main problem:  I'm unsure I can do the preparation for the exam because my digestive system can't cope with some things.  We'll see.
The mentor program I'm running for disabled/neurodivergent writers is almost ready to launch!  The term for this year starts on August 1st and, like any mother hen, I'm fretting and working my butt off.

I want to start an online writing retreat as the next project, but I'm completely unequipped for it.  I'm currently in fact-finding mode.
What is everyone else up to?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Acceptances, Statistics, and "Diving In"

My poem, "Diving In" was published in Lonesome October Lit late last month!  This is the same magazine that accepted two of my Christmas horror flash pieces to appear in December.

Eye to the Telescope accepted "Consumption" (a horror poem) for their issue on the theme:  Darkness.  It's the first time they've wanted something I've sent.

Antinarrative Journal accepted my poem, "Absentee Father".  I subscribe to their emails and love the work they choose.
Acceptances received in 2018, so far:  Four (consisting of three poems and two fiction pieces).

Rejections received in 2018, so far:  32

Number of submissions out for consideration as of July 3rd:  32

Monday, July 2, 2018

Diversity at Penguin Random House UK (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote about Penguin Random House UK trying to become as varied in composition as the UK itself.  One of the ways they want to do that?  Make college degrees no longer a requirement for any position in their company.

People can be extremely talented and have no degree because:  Not everyone can afford $70,000 of debt, caretakers might not have the time to devote to schooling, disabled people aren't always accommodated in universities, reformed ex-cons might have not had access to education while serving time... it goes on.

Ways to prove talent and potential:
  1. Exams with interviews
  2. Portfolios of work (for cover artists)
  3. Testimonials from a freelance business
  4. Alternative education experience (like reputable online workshops)
  5. Editing/running a small press/literary magazine
  6. Internships/mentorships with advancement opportunity 
Penguin Random House (PRH) specifically says people who have degrees are still welcome to apply, so it isn't like being a college graduate disqualifies someone.  I wonder, by 2025, how many people they'll have on their payroll who possess no degree at all (and I'm not talking about the janitors).
The presence of disability has faded from the discussion around PRH's attempt at true inclusiveness.  This is normal.  While we may get a brief mention, we're almost always left out of any discussion about equality and diversity by the end of it.  

Why disabled/neurodivergent people are left out:
  1. We're perceived as incapable of fully participating in whatever is discussed.
  2. People will often know others from minority communities (or at least about them) but won't know much about disabled/neurodivergent people.
  3. Any accommodation we need is considered too much and renders us invalid.
  4. Our narratives are ignored unless people want inspiration or to pity someone.
The stereotypes of helplessness, low intelligence, and being too expensive to care for make including us seem not worth it.  Better to shove us away than make society accessible.  If they bury our needs, our needs don't exist.

Kenny Fries wrote a great piece on the disappearance of disability in these discussions.
I'll leave you with it.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

Diversity at Penguin Random House UK (Part 1)

Earlier this month, Penguin Random House (UK) unveiled their plan to make those they publish (and hire) more closely resemble the diversity seen in their population by the year 2025.  They have removed the degree requirement from their jobs.  They've expanded mentoring programs and have made sure all internships are paid.

Of course, once you talk about diversity and inclusion, you have people criticising the move.  "Quality will suffer!" the naysayers screech.  "They'll just tick off difference boxes without any thought of talent."
Using minority percentages in populations:

I'm for using them as a guideline, I've suggested it in many instances, but I'm uncertain how I feel about quotas or identical reflections.  Are they going to fire/hire if the population shifts in the future?  Is there a margin they can be "off" by?

How are those with multiple marginalizations handled?  Does an Asian, bisexual man count as both minority groups in those census-type reports?  How will PHR count folks who overlap different marginalizations?

I'd love to see Penguin Random House's (PRH) methods for tracking their progress.

Just as a reference:  The VIDA Count also uses percentages. 
"Diversity" doesn't mean quality suffers:

Much like affirmative action, opponents think PHR will grab the first cripple they see off the street and offer them a job.  (If so, look me up, guys!)  These people think the group those hired belong to will matter more than the skill.  They don't believe for one second that the chosen "minority" person will have the qualifications other applicants do.

The assumed lack of talent is pretty bigoted, if you think about it.  Minorities are often seen as possessing less intellect, less drive, less every good attribute than the majority so of course they won't be the "right" people.

Why would an entity focused on making money purposely hire people without the barest hint of potential?  The supposed boost they'd get from "virtue signalling" wouldn't last nearly long enough to cover the losses of maintaining inept employees, or worse, publishing awful writers.  PHR will search harder and smarter, not with increasing desperation.

There is a subtle, persistent fear by some people in the majority.  If some more of the pie is given to minority groups, there will be less pie for them.  It's a difficult thing, having to concede something to others when you've had it unchallenged (and often unearned) for so long.

Next week, I'll address the change in PHR's policy on college degrees and disability's mysterious disappearance from the diversity discussion as it goes on.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Apocalypse (Old Poem)

Radioactive ice-fire preoccupies minds
Asteroids, war, rising tides
Nibble and gnaw
Dates, facts, figures
Even enormous dinosaurs fell
Better off not knowing
Best yet, unable to guess
Endings appear as middles, ordinary
Brick walls at high speeds don’t move
Keep going, to stop is impossible

Monday, June 11, 2018

Heaven and Suicide (Controversial Post)

Due to a couple of recent celebrity suicides, social media is abuzz with talk of depression, getting help, and suicide ideation. Through messages of mourning and helpline numbers, reminders of self-care and stories of mental health struggles, there is a group of Christians condemning people to hell.

These Christians say suicide is the only unforgivable sin. Suicide is a surefire way to burn in hell eternal. That the people we lost to suicide deserve torment because they tossed away the greatest gift of all... life. They are hurting people who are already stunned from loss or who are suffering from such severe depression they aren't certain how to survive the next hour. A lot of them do this almost gleefully.
Now, I'm not a Christian... but, here it goes.

The afterlife is supposedly a paradise. There are verdant fields, streets paved with gold, decadent feasts, and zero worries. Everyone you've ever lost waits for you. There is no pain or heartbreak. So many religions tell you if you're a good person you end up somewhere glorious after you die.

But, life can be hard. It's sometimes sad. You can work your entire life and not get anywhere. You can help people in need and find yourself without a friend when you need help the most. Life is rough.

Because life is rough, it is tempting to skip the unpleasant or horrific bits and go straight to bliss. And, since it's so tempting, religions need a fail-safe to ensure no one decides to check-out early. So, holy people/texts tell people the gods will never forgive you, and you will be denied the joy waiting for you... forever.
The "Hell Rhetoric" for suicide isn't helpful. If you're desperate enough to contemplate leaving everyone and everything you love, you're likely beyond threats of the supposed beings who won't alleviate your pain. If you lost someone to suicide, the last thing you need to hear is that your loved one still suffers.

It is callous disregard and misguided superiority that causes people to hurt others in this way. They feel they have all the answers. And they would never do something so offensive to god.
What we need to tell people who are hurting enough to kill themselves isn't about what happens if they decide to die, but what exists when they're alive. Beg them to get help.  Call them every day. Spend time with them. Let them know how much they mean to you. Surround them with their favorite foods or indulgences. Do things for them they can't do because of depression (like cleaning). Talk about good memories.
Help them find the way back to themselves without threats of punishment or talk of more pain. Show them living is beautiful and worthwhile.

Maybe the people heaping more pain on those who have enough are the ones who deserve paradise in their rear view mirrors.

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Poem in Geometry Literary Journal

My Poem, "Disappearance of a Faithless Wife" is in the new issue of Geometry Literary Journal.  It's a small piece, but I'm thrilled it found such a beautiful home.

If you click here, it should take you to the digital issue.  (If it doesn't, click on the "issues" tab at the top and click on the purple issue on the right.)  The pages can be a bit tricky to navigate, but the works within them are worth it.

There is also the option to purchase physical copies in their store.