I never wanted to be a writer.
Or maybe, because I work as a copy and content writer, the better word is author. I definitely never wanted to be an author. No, really, it’s true. I’ve always loved books and words – other people’s writing – but it was never something I ever saw myself really doing, never felt creating was one of my strengths. Sure, I could string together some academic papers and I can analyze a scene from Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey and essentially construct a conspiracy theory around it…but at the core of that writing is reading, using someone else’s words.
In 2019, I started reading again, reading a lot, and, to my surprise, these books featured vegan/vegetarian characters. They weren’t main characters, of course, and, even worse, they were portrayed horribly. Elitist snobs who say things like “I only eat organic kohlrabi from the farmers market two hours away.” Honestly, it would ruin the story for me, take me entirely out of the plot, and have me question the validity of the author.
When COVID-19 really hit, I, like most people, found myself staying inside a lot more. There was only so many ways I could cure my boredom by watching America’s Court with Judge Ross or some other ridiculous show. And that’s when the ideas started coming. If I want to see real vegan/vegetarian characters in stories, especially main characters, why don’t I create one myself?
And that’s really where the ideas came from. Vegan heroines eating vegan food, going to vegan restaurants, making vegan desserts for their friends and families. Sometimes casually, sometimes not. Sometimes, their veganism is important to the plot, and other times, it’s just that they’re eating a veggie dog.
So, I would get an idea for a story, and I’d give it some sort of vegan element, show vegans or vegetarians represented positively. Sure, it doesn’t seem important, but even that kind of representation matters. It normalizes veganism, presents it as something that isn’t out of the ordinary. And that’s a good thing.
But this hasn’t come without challenges. Those ideas? I started having too many. I’d have one and start writing until a new idea popped into my head. Then I would abandon the first, and the whole cycle would start again.
Recently, a new story idea took over my brain. But this time, before I could start putting words to paper, I remembered something: NaNoWriMo.
For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit, and every November, it poses a challenge: to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Really, NaNoWriMo is year-round: there are “camps” in April and July for you to get writing done – though there is more freedom with the word count – but you’re also able to track any of your projects at any time throughout the year. However, since my new idea began to take shape at the end of September, November seemed like a good time to actually start writing, giving me all of October – Preptober – to get ready.
And that’s what I’m doing. Everywhere I go, I take my notebook and pen in case inspiration strikes and I need to write down some detail: a character flaw, a scene idea, a new character. I’m working on scene cards, so, by the end of October, I can spread them on the floor and put them in order.
Another thing I’m hoping will help me is that I’m part of a couple writing groups! I’m particularly excited about one, as it’s filled with vegan and vegetarian writers (there’s still a couple spots left, so let me know if you want in!), so we all have that in common. Some of us are even writing books with veg*n characters.
I’m not an amazing writer by any means, but I don’t really think NaNoWriMo is about that – or it’s not for me at least. I’m just trying to write a story that I would like to read. And have fun. Mostly I’m trying to have fun.
What about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What are you working on? Do you have any tips for success?
Psst…are you in need of a writer who can capture your brand’s voice and create content sure to resonate with your audience? Are you looking for someone to proofread and edit your own writing to ensure it’s free of errors? If you answered “yes” to either question, let’s talk!