Snakes and Ladders: A New Writer’s LesFic Journey

I’ll start this blog using the game analogy, because it has a perfect resonance with me and my journey into Lesfic writing.

Imagine I’m standing at the start. I’m scared. Those of you that know me understand that I come from a factual background from my days in Navy and the police: “It was 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday 21st October 2019, and I was proceeding along Boundary Road. The road surface was dry, and there had been no rain nor heavy dew in the previous twenty-four hours,” etc. It was only a short writing step into academia, and I found it easy to write factually and remind my students that most descriptive terms should be removed from their sentences. For example there’s no need to use large or huge (a favorite). Give precise numbers instead. 

I’d found Lesfic late in life via science fiction and Fletcher Delancey, and as an avid reader I had lots of ideas for stories that I wanted to tell. 

So, moving forward I put myself out there and asked Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx at the 2017 UK Bold Stroke Books event in Nottingham what they would advise. They simply said, “Get writing,” and counselled that once I was writing, I’d realize what I needed, and they’d be able to advise me further. So, I mounted my first ladder, went up two rows, and started writing. But I got sidetracked with work and family and slid down a snake to the first row. I then began writing reviews and went straight up another two very steep ladders. The girls at The Lesbian Review had some moments with both my attempts at description and trying to use commas like loose change. But I was still too scared to write my own words. Down another snake.

In 2018, I helped to organize EllCon, a Lesfic conference in the UK, and I was asked to provide words that would describe different author’s books as Author Spotlights on the EllCon website prior to the event. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of writing, but I still wasn’t doing my own stories. I spent a lot of time at the event talking to authors and discovered that they have the same hopes and fears as the rest of us. I was prevaricating and deserved to slide down another snake. While at Ellcon I spent time with Emma Nichols, an author that I admire and beta read for, and she was confident that I could write and made me realize that I should just get on with it.

I came away from EllCon full of enthusiasm and decided to write a short story. How hard could that be? Oh! The confidence and naivety of the innocent! I think a vertical ladder could describe that experience, but I was caught up in the creative and affirming feeling of seeing my thoughts and emotions running across the page. Add to that, there was an amazing view at the top of that ladder. After I’d completed The Bus Stop, I wondered if it was any good, and I found that lots of authors have similar thoughts when they finish wrestling with their babies! I sent it to Robyn Nyx and asked her. She did a development edit on it, sorted out the numerous mistakes, and now it’s about to be published. Wow!

Suitably buoyed, I started writing a full length Lesfic sci-fi story. I found myself really struggling and almost descended enough snakes to take me to the bottom row of the Snakes and Ladders board. I kept starting and writing the first chapter and realizing I need to go further back to tell the story. Those of you with writing knowledge are probably smiling at this point, and sagely nodding and mouthing, “back story.” Who knew? I decided to put my name down for Brey Willow’s and Robyn Nyx’s writing retreat in Spain. Now I know! It was such an uplifting experience to be able to put some knowledge into my writing process and to have such fun while doing it. They have both been so nurturing, and now I’m climbing ladders daily. Robyn (aka Nicci Robinson of Global Wordsmiths) continues to edit and teach me chapter by chapter, so hopefully next year, I’ll have a full-length story under my belt…and in your hands! 

The stairway to Lesfic heaven?

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