Call-out for submissions to an anthology by autistic women and gender-diverse writers
UQP is delighted to announce a new anthology, which will collect twenty-five personal essays by Autistic women and gender-diverse people, co-edited by Autistic writers Jo Case and Clem Bastow, generously supported by the Australia Council.
The anthology, which will be published in April 2025, will combine fifteen commissioned essays with ten more essays to be selected from a nationwide call-out, which closes Wednesday 8 November 2023. Confirmed contributors include Fiona Wright, Jess Ho, Kay Kerr, Anna Whateley and Amanda Tink.
Autistic women and gender-diverse writers from around Australia are invited to submit essays about how being autistic has shaped their lives and identities. The editors especially welcome writing that is Autistic in nature, not just in subject, and that questions, challenges and subverts the stereotypes and misconceptions that persist with regards to Autism. We encourage creative approaches to this theme within personal essay/non-fiction. The collection will move beyond stories of diagnosis to fully recognise all aspects of Autistic experience.
Submissions are welcome from those with a formal Autism diagnosis, and those who are self-identified. We recognise there are many barriers and potential disadvantages to formal diagnosis – including accessibility, cost, and risk of discrimination.
We will work closely with contributors to develop their essays for publication. While the essays will be personal, contributors will not be restricted to writing their life stories or diagnosis journeys. For example, they might choose to explore their passions – often pathologised as ‘special interests’ – or a specific aspect of their lives shaped by autism. This authentically Autistic approach will help to represent Autistic people as more than a collection of symptoms.
The editors are committed to representing a range of Autistic voices, including those who are often marginalised within the neurodiversity movement: those with complex needs, who are nonspeaking, or who experience multiple disability. They particularly encourage First Nations Autistic people, Autistic people of colour, LGBTQIA+ Autistic people, those from multigenerational Autistic families, and those living in rural communities to submit.
Submissions close 8 November 2023. Email email@example.com for queries, but please note that the editors will not be able to provide feedback on submissions that are not selected for publication. All contributors will be paid AUD$600.
- Submission deadline: 8 November 2023
- Essay length of 1500–4000 words
- Contributors must be Autistic, but don’t need a formal diagnosis
- Contributions must address the theme of how their autistic identities have shaped their lives and identities, but are not restricted to their life stories or diagnosis journeys
- Open to anyone living permanently in Australia
- Entries must not be already published.
How to Submit:
- Please email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following as your email subject line: Autistic women and gender diverse writers anthology.
- We will contact you only if you are successful. No feedback will be provided. Please don’t contact us to follow up on your entry.
- Please provide your submission within a .docx document attached to your email, in 12-point font, double spaced.
- Please put your name in the document file name (for example, Jane_Citizen_anthology_submission.docx)
- At the start of your document, please include your full name, address, email and phone number, and any further information you wish us to know.
Do I have to be a professional writer to submit?
No! If you have been published before, you’re welcome to include a brief overview of a few lines at the start of your submission along with your name and contact information, but we don’t need to see your CV or folio.
Can I adapt or expand a piece that I’ve published elsewhere, such as on a blog or in a journal?
No, your submission needs to be wholly original.
How long should my submission be?
Between 1500 and 4000 words. Submissions of more than 4000 words will not be considered.
Graphic storytelling submissions should be between 8-10 pages.
If my piece is accepted, will it receive any editing?
Yes! We will work closely with all writers whose work is selected to develop their work for publication.
What is “personal essay” writing?
At its simplest, it’s a piece of writing that is both personal and factual. It doesn’t have to be the chronological story of your entire life. For example, you could focus on one experience in great detail, or write non-linearly, and so on. As long as your essay is about the way (or ways) in which Autism has shaped your life, and it is not fictional, you can respond creatively to the brief. There are lots of different approaches to personal essay, and we’re excited to read them!
What is writing that is “Autistic in nature”?
Like Autistic people, Autistic writing is diverse in its styles and approaches. It might be writing that reflects Autistic experience by using communication techniques like repetition, echolalia, language partitioning (parentheses and semicolons). If you’re interested to read more about the idea, co-editor Clem Bastow’s review of Hannah Gadsby’s memoir discusses Autistic writing, and we also recommend M. Remi Yergeau’s Authoring Autism and Julia Miele Rodas’ Autistic Disturbances. Autistic writing doesn’t have to reflect this, of course. Some Autistic writers might have, for example, studied creative writing or immersed themselves in a particular kind of reading, and their work might reflect these influences. That’s fine, too.
What do you mean by “this collection will move beyond stories of diagnosis”?
Very often, Autistic people—particularly those diagnosed later in life—are expected to continually tell the story of how they learned that they are Autistic. While these questions usually come from a compassionate place, they also run the risk of limiting Autistic people to constantly having to discuss their experience in a very clinical context, emphasising a medical model of disability rather than a social one. This diagnosis discourse also marginalises those who either can’t access or are not interested in pursuing “official” diagnosis. We are keen to give Autistic writers the opportunity to write about all the other ways in which Autism enriches and complicates their lives!
What if I am AuDHD, or Autistic and live with other disabilities?
That’s fine (and common!).
Will contributors be paid?
Yes, all contributors will receive a payment of AUD$600.
Will I retain the copyright for my essay?
What if I wasn’t born in Australia?
That’s okay, you just need to be living here permanently.
When will the full list of contributors be announced?
If you’ve submitted, you will be informed via email if your piece has been accepted or not. We expect to announce the final list in early 2024. Keep an eye on the UQP website for any updates. (Due to the anticipated number of submissions, we will not be able to go into detail about the selection process.)
Are you considering graphic storytelling submissions?
Yes, we're open to graphic storytelling submissions. They should be roughly 8-10 pages. Please keep in mind that you'd need to be able to supply hi-res files to production specifications if selected. And that the eventual book will be a C-format paperback in black and white - that might affect how much detail you use.