The Crip Collective is an informal Facebook group for disabled people in the publishing industry in the UK. It’s a way to bring all our diverse voices together to support each other, share resources, articles, opportunities, discuss challenges we’ve faced, and to push for change in the industry.
I’m Ever Dundas, a writer living with M.E. and fibromyalgia (and a congenital knee issue exacerbated by fibro & M.E., which means walking can sometimes be difficult). I also have a learning disability – dyscalculia (and suspected dyslexia – it was never formally diagnosed). Since my first novel Goblin was published over two years ago, I’ve found some mutual support through other disabled writers I’ve met, but it has often been difficult finding my way. Still, I’ve been doing it, I’ve been pursuing a writing career and I haven’t ‘overcome’ anything, which might be disappointing to many NDY’s (Not Disabled Yet). During an interview someone asked me: “What are you going to do to overcome your illnesses to pursue a writing career?”
1) Already pursuing, already doing 2) You tell me – how do I personally overcome incurable chronic illnesses? Positive thinking? Sheer force of will? Or a public, government, and medical establishment who take these illnesses seriously? Well-funded medical research? A benefits system that isn’t punitive? And a publishing industry that is accessible?
I shouldn’t have to ‘overcome’ to be able to pursue a career in this industry. I’ve been pursuing my career by ‘managing’ and ‘pacing’. I know it’s not as sexy a narrative as ‘overcoming’, but it’s the reality. And of course, what would help is accessibility – it isn’t me who needs to change to become ‘normal’ to fit into the industry; the industry needs to be accessible.
This group will be anti-inspiration porn. We won’t give you ‘overcoming’.
We’ll give you the difficult narratives.
Disability has been neglected in the industry, and I feel that we’ll have a stronger voice if we work together as a group. I also hope this collective will help make people feel less isolated. I hope members will feel able to share challenges they’ve faced and changes they’d like to see, and we can all work together to make a difference in the industry for disabled people.
I’m currently on the Scottish Book Trust’s Writers Advisory Panel and my main focus is disability, so hopefully my work with them will elicit some changes.
Please bear in mind, that while I’ve set up this group I’m not in any way the ‘leader’ of the group. I’m just an admin who will try and make the group as welcome as possible and work as smoothly as possible. If anyone wants to set up anything more formal, or have any ideas for direct action, please take the lead. Being chronically ill, I have to be very careful about my energy levels and what I commit to, so I may not always be able to join in any initiatives/campaigns etc.
As always with these groups, it is built on respect for each other. Ableism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, etc will not be tolerated. If you are in any way abusive you will be removed from the group.
When you join the group, feel free to introduce yourself, but you don’t have to.
Please respect people’s preferred pronouns if stated, and make post greetings gender-neutral (e.g. “Hi, all”) to make sure everyone feels welcome.
Some people who have a chronic illness (including mental health issues) might not call themselves disabled. That’s fine. You’re still very welcome to join the group.
If you’re a newbie writer and don’t have a publication track record, or you’re a publishing student just starting out, you’re still most welcome.
I originally set up the group for disabled people working in the publishing industry in Scotland, but I think that shuts down connections and opportunities, so I’d like to open it up to disabled people in the publishing industry across the UK to join. If you post any opportunities in the group, make sure you state whether it’s UK-wide.
We have a few writers so far, which is great, but we would love to get all kinds of people working in the publishing industry. Please spread the word.
A note on the name ‘Crip Collective’: the word ‘crip’ has been reclaimed by many disabled people, and I personally use it and think it’s powerful and a bit punk. As Dean Strauss so eloquently puts it: “It subverts the idea that disabled people should hide their disabilities to comfort non-disabled people; it’s a way to preemptively address ableist assumptions head-on.” (from: Queer Crips Reclaiming language)
I Am Not A Human Resource – Ampersand podcast interview by Josie Deacon with myself and Julie Farrell on being writers living with chronic illnesses
Publishing Is Still Ableist by Robert W Kingett
Writing Disability – interview with Emily Rose Cole
What Is To Come – my Freedom Paper on disability and capitalism (for EIBF 2018)
Frankenstein’s Children – Here Be Monsters And They Are Glorious – my epistolary piece written as an ode to Shelley’s Frankenstein for the bicentennial
Time and the Social Model by Amble Skuse
Please Caption This by Ashley Graczyk
My Disabled Body Is Not A Burden by Aryanna Falkner