I have been writing fiction all my life, but there is no doubt in my mind had I not discovered femslash I would not be where I am in my writing journey.
I’ve blogged before about how I wrote fanfiction for Xena. I penned three fics of a “general” nature before writing New Territory, a first time X/G romance story. The friends I made in that community over the next five years were so supportive, I was able to explore a new understanding of myself and came out as bisexual. In total for Xena I wrote 23 stories, many of which were novel length. So in practice, I learned to structure a story, that introduction of situation, the rise of problem, the introduction of conflict, obstacle, tension, all the way to resolution.
I learned how to control pacing of plots and all the elements of story. I had learned of these things in the abstract as a reader in English education classes throughout my schooling. But application is a far more rigorous instructor. Feedback and failure are far more instructive than all the A’s in the world on a report card. Failure in fandom is “hearing crickets,” publishing a story that doesn’t get feedback or kudos. Sometimes you get a note that something didn’t work for a reader. And then sometimes you get “can’t wait for the next part!” and “omg, I never saw that coming, but it makes so much sense!” or “wow, that was an incredible rollercoaster” and you know you got something right.
Yes, fanfic borrows characters. Which is why, at some point, when you find you’re always going “AU” and working with the archetypes, creating different backstories, when you’re creating original characters for the copyrighted ones to encounter… you’re ready to move on to original fiction.
Playing in someone else’s sandbox is fun. But at some point, I was more comfortable moving into my own sandbox. I started to create original characters, original situations
So I now pen original women-loving women (aka sapphic, lesfic, femslash) fiction, returning only occasionally to a fandom to pen a new fanfic from some odd inspiration or prompt like the recent return I made to Voyager femslash to write Amnesia.
But learning storytelling, being a “bard” of femslash fanfiction was my first step.