I Don't Play the Game

My baby brother thinks I make two serious missteps with my writing career:

1. I disclose my disability (vaguely) in my biography.
2. I am not a suck-up and don't schmooze.
Disability disclosure has lead to (at least) one publication rejecting me after the initial acceptance.  It's possible the information impacts more editors and judges than I realize.  My baby brother wonders why I risk divulging my status.


1. It's an interesting part of me.
2. I strive to be my most authentic self.
3. Editors who are ableist don't deserve my art.
4. I want disabled writers to know others are out there.
5. Disability should be seen in the able-bodied world.  And normalized.
The second "misstep" is more complicated.

I reach out to people (even complete strangers) to congratulate them on successes, and check on them after they talk about rough days.  I post submission opportunities on social media for other writers and review books.  I share poems I like on Twitter.  Whatever I can give to someone, I give freely.

But, I don't start conversations with well-known poets to have them notice me.  I don't ingratiate myself with editors and can't stomach the quid pro quo in the literary community.  It feels scummy.  How can you engage with people on an authentic level while constantly pondering the benefits?

Networking for connections you can utilize later is (supposedly) how the game is played.  I don't have an MFA or come from an affluent family, so searching for the ever-present angle should be a necessity.  I just can't.

What do you think?  Do you connect with expectations of reciprocity?

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