**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Lisa Whalen’s book, Stable Weight: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope, is now available from Hopewell Publications. Her writing has also appeared in An Introvert in an Extrovert World; The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield; Introvert, Dear; and Adanna, among other publications. Whalen has a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education and an M.A. in creative and critical writing. She teaches composition, creative writing, literature, and journalism at North Hennepin Community College, where she was selected Minnesota College Faculty Association Educator of the Year in 2019. In her spare time, she is an equestrian and volunteer for the Animal Humane Society. Learn more at her website, and follow her on social media @LisaIrishWhalen.
“Describe how the antagonist drives your book’s plot.”
Those were the instructions 74 other authors and I received as we prepared to attend a conference in New York City. The conference would teach us how to pitch our books to agents or publishers, which involved a lot more time, research, and effort than I realized. We were told that to get the most out of each session, we should complete some assignments before we arrived. The first was describing how our book’s antagonist (villain) drives our story’s plot. It was a straightforward task for every author…except me. The others had written novels; I had written a memoir describing how The Emily Program helped me recover from an eating disorder. My story doesn’t have an antagonist, I thought, frustrated.