Perception and Priority

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by Travis Richardson



The end of the year is nigh! Yesterday was winter solstice, the darkest part of the winter. My wife and I saw the sunset from my in-laws’ Vegas timeshare.

Winter solstice sunset in south Las Vegas.
Winter solstice sunset in south Las Vegas.


There’s something about the desert – endless sand and scrub brush – that doesn’t seem very Christmassy. In America we’ve been conditioned through decades of marketing to expect snow-covered hamlets with wreaths hanging on every front door and a warm glowing fire crackling within each home. Christmases like that do exist and I’ve been fortunate to have a few white Christmases in Oklahoma, but that doesn’t happen for everybody. It doesn’t mean other people are doing Christmas wrong, it is just different.

The same can be said about the stereotypical image of a writer hunkered down at a manual typewriter, cigarette hanging from the corner of one mouth, a bottle of booze nearby and crumpled up paper on the floor. This antiquated image may have been replaced by the newer stereotype of a hyper-caffeinated keyboard puncher gazing at their laptop in a Starbucks while sipping a grande mochaccino latte with an extra shot of espresso. Again, this image is true for some of us, but not all. Many writers have day jobs, families, and other commitments that make either stereotype hard to maintain even if you’re trying to achieve the image.

While there are no fixed rules, I think it is safe to say that the substance you write trumps any image you can convey of being a serious writer. Of course there are exceptions, especially when I think of art. It should be the work that matters, however it is achieved (in underwear at the kitchen counter, a notebook at a truckstop, during a lunch break at work, etc.). Marketing may come around later, but having a quality product that people want to read should be your paramount priority. Just as Christmas is not about being in the perfect Hallmark location, it is about being with family and friends, sharing quality time with them.

How do you feel about the perception of being a writer versus the reality?

Wishing you a merry Christmas, happy holidays and a happy New Year!




Travis Richardson is fortunate to have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts at and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD.

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PS. Travis’ last published short story of the year, “A Village Called Eden,” appeared yesterday in the pulp genre anthology Dark Corners, Vol. 1, Issue 2.