It Just Irks Me

Hello, hello!  The past few weeks, I’ve been really diligent about submitting to at least two magazines or anthologies each Monday.  This means that I’ve been going through Duotrope, Ralan’s site, and random calls for submissions.  In my searches, I came across a really neat anthology that I will likely submit to if I can come up with a story that falls in the realm of Sci-Fi, but something about their call rubs me the wrong way.  They’re looking for people who “identify as disabled.”  I had to read their call three times before I realized it was that exact phrase that made me twitch every time.  Something about it just irks me.

head tilt
If I could tilt my head, this would’ve been my reaction.

The anthology is being put together by people with disabilities and will be comprised of stories/essays/poems/etc. by people with disabilities, so I want to be clear that I think it’s a wonderful thing and I look forward to reading it.  The thing that makes me pause and overthink everything is the concept of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled.  It’s something I never really thought about before, because my crippleness is so apparent that not having it as part of my identity was never an option.  In my experience, people are either disabled or they aren’t.  They don’t really get a choice.

Sure, some disabilities are less severe than others.  Some are even invisible.  But a disability is a disability regardless of whether outsiders can tell it’s there or not.  If you’re disabled in a way that isn’t apparent to others and you choose to keep it to yourself, that’s your prerogative, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re disabled.  If you don’t have a physical or mental deficit/difference, even if you want one (which apparently is a thing, though I have no idea why anyone would want to be disabled), then you aren’t disabled.  You could become disabled in the future, but you aren’t right now.  Disabilities don’t care how you identify.  They either happen to you or they don’t.

ctrl-alt-del1
From Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I still laugh when I come across this one.

I suppose my biggest issue with the idea of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled is that it implies disability is some kind of social construct that people can opt into or out of whenever they want.  It’s not.  Disabilities are diseases and abnormalities that people have to deal with every single day.  It’s not a choice.  It’s not politics.  It’s the hand life decided to deal us.

But I also know there are a lot of people who struggle with the idea of whether or not they’re “disabled enough” to claim the title.  That’s why the anthology uses the concept of identity in its call.  They want to include as many people as possible and they want people with disabilities to know that they aren’t judging what counts as a disability.  They want people to feel welcome to submit no matter the type of disability or severity.  In my head, I know and understand this.  I even think it’s a diplomatic way to handle a tough situation.  It’s just something that made me stop and think.

what-is-overthinking-disorder-1
I do this far too often.

I’m going to stop rambling now.  Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

How Short Is Too Short?

Howdy, howdy!  I’ve noticed a strange trend in the world of short stories lately: they keep getting shorter.  It kind of reminds me of cellphones.  They started out as these huge, bulky things that people wanted smaller and smaller, then all of a sudden people wanted them bigger again.  Is that what’s going to happen with short stories?  I don’t know.  But I do know that short stories are getting smaller and smaller at the moment.  When I first noticed it, there was flash fiction (1,000 words or less), then micro fiction (100 – 500 words depending on who you ask) popped up, and now I’m seeing a lot of talk about 50 word stories.  It’s not that I mind this trend, I’m just curious about what it means for the writing world in general.

mobile-phones-evolution-6
I suppose we’ve reached the early 2000s by comparison.

Personally, I enjoy writing and reading flash fiction.  It’s a challenge to write a story that feels complete and satisfying in under 1,000 words, but it’s possible.  Micro fiction, on the other hand, I tend to look at more as poetry or as excerpts.  It’s rare for me to find one that works as an actual story in my mind.  And I have a feeling I’ll be looking at these 50 word stories the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written things that were super short as an exercise in conciseness, but I never considered them to be worth submitting anywhere.  I never realized it was something people were interested in to be honest.  And why are people so interested in them?  Is it because of the time we live in?  In the day and age of Tweets and instant gratification, do we just not have the attention span to read something longer?  The cynical part of me believes that has a lot to do with it.  Another part of me thinks it started out the way I started doing it, as a personal challenge, that someone decided to share with other people who took the challenge upon themselves.  Whatever the reason, it’s apparently a thing now.

it-s-a-writer-thing-unisex-tri-blend-t-shirt-by-american-apparel
It’s okay.  I’m a writer and I don’t entirely understand.

I’m all for conciseness, but how short is too short?  Are there going to be 10 word stories next?  Serious questions, I’m not being facetious.  I was always told that a story should have a beginning, middle, and end.  That was the golden rule when I started writing.  But nowadays, some stories start in the middle and only hint at a beginning or even start at the end and that’s all okay.  I don’t mind things breaking the rules if it works.  I’m curious though, when a reader has to build a story in their head around the 50 or 100 or however many words they get, can the author still really take credit for the story?  Yeah, the words planted the idea, but the reader had to do most of the work.  Maybe that’s the whole purpose of stories that short, to make the readers work for it.

overthinking
I know I’m overthinking it.  It’s what I do.

I don’t have the answers, but these are the kind of things I think about.  What about you?  What are your thoughts on 50 word stories and this trend of short stories becoming shorter in general?  Feel free to post your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!