Weekly Conversation: Travis Hits the Big Time

Seth and Travis discuss Travis hitting the big time as Travis has a piece published at NBC Sports’ longform site. We discuss what that means for Travis and where he’s going with his writing.

Photo via Flickr.

Seth: Alright, alright, alright. You made the big time. You got your foot in the door and you’re not about to leave this party. This has been something that’s been a long-time goal for you, to have a long-form piece published, and you did it. I honestly can’t even remember when you started talking about this, but it’s been a while. You tell me. Where do you want to begin?

Travis: First, thanks to you and to everyone who has supported me during this process. And you’re right, it has been a long time in the making. After the NBA season last year I started to dabble in some different things outside of typical game recaps, etc. I entered a few writing contests and things like that to try and get comfortable outside the box.

I’d been thinking about doing some sort of story to celebrate the city of San Antonio because it really is a unique place. It has such a small town feel and I wanted to find a way to show that. At first I thought about compiling a ton of pictures and putting them to music on YouTube, and I actually have 15 or 20 that are really cool from around town.

Then over the holidays I started to reread A Moveable Feast by Hemingway (one of my all-time favorites). I really love how he describes the little cafe’s and hole in the wall places he frequented while living in Paris. So that’s where it started. I sat down over the Christmas break and started to piece the story together.

Seth: But really though, this just didn’t start over Christmas. You wrote an opus to San Antonio and the Spurs after they won their NBA title. You had full access as a media member, but the Spurs as an organization didn’t want you going forward with that behind the scenes look at things. As you and I discussed, that was part of the agreement with the Spurs when you were credentialed. What was it like writing this incredible piece that may never see the light of day? I’m guessing that wanting to share that part of the Spurs was frustrating, knowing how you were able to see this entirely different side of things that most people don’t have the opportunity to see.

Travis: Yeah, I was really frustrated about that for quite a while. But looking back now I see some (or most) of it was my fault because I didn’t seek the Spurs approval before I started the project- which was a big mistake. And it was a good exercise because I had to work really hard to tie the various stories I had from the season into something coherent.

And I think I was able to take a lot of the original book and incorporate some of that feeling into the piece that NBC liked so much. So in the end I think it’s working out well.

I think in a funny way it helped me find a different voice and hopefully it’s one that the readers enjoy. I try to describe what are otherwise normal events in a way that people can relate to and envision. So, while the book didn’t work out, I really try to look at it as a learning opportunity rather than a roadblock or anything negative. Because believe me, it’s easy to get discouraged trying to find your footing as a sportswriter. I’ve been turned down by almost everyone in the business.

Seth: This is one of those things that I knew when we met (on the internet) that you were way too talented and way too five-steps-ahead on how you think in regards to all sorts of things that you were destined for more than just DTN or VTM or Staking The Plains. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing for a blog, but I consider myself to have been ridiculously lucky to call you my friend since I brought home Fitsum. That’s really when it happened. You’ve gone from Musings from the Belltower Boys to being published in the longform site for NBC Sports and they want you to do more. What’s next for you as a writer? What’s your next goal(s)? Because I know that there’s no sitting around and patting yourself on the back. There’s more to write. At this point, you’ll be able to write off a new computer as a deduction because you’re a professional.

Travis: Well, that’s really nice of you to say and I’ve already discussed the new computer with the wife so we’ll see where that gets me.

Those Belltower days seem so long ago, but it was some of the most fun I’ve had when writing. I had no inhibitions really and I was still hiding behind a few layers of anonymity and that felt very comfortable. But you, among others, kept encouraging me to find my own voice. It was difficult at first but I kept after it.

NBC has already give me a few more “assignments,” and I can’t wait to get started. And ultimately I do want to write a book but finding the time is a challenge. I just need to get more disciplined so I can carve out a few hours a day. I really enjoy doing profiles of people, famous or not, and attempting to explain them in ways that perhaps hasn’t been done.

And you’re exactly right, there is so much more to write. An opportunity like this only makes me want to continue to work, continue to get better.

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