Q&A with Rio Richards

We were excited to be able to chat a little more with OUT LOUD reader Rio Richards, who read an excerpt from her short story Sundays at our October reading, and an excerpt from her fiction-in-progress entitled Jack and Pat at our January reading.

How long have you been writing, and what inspired you to start?

My love for writing started long ago as a little girl with colorful journals stuffed with pages of devastating poetry and the occasional thoughts about suspicious neighbors I thought Harriet the Spy would notice. I come from a family of storytellers, and embellishing for the sake of the audience is my blood type. It was always a private hobby until I moved to San Francisco and a sociology professor encouraged me to pursue writing, which led to me receiving a degree in Creativing Writing. I consider the writing program at SFSU and its talented teachers the real birthplace of my inspiration and creativity. I've never experienced a community quite like that before, or since. 

What is your writing process like? 

My process is that I have no process. I try periodically to "commit" to a routine or some sort of consistent writing ritual, but mostly I find that it just takes a post-coffee mind first thing in the morning on a day I don't have a hundred other things waiting for me to do. I do find that talking about writing with other writers motivates me to be more prolific. Conversations that start with "What if..." are some of my favorites. 

What do you find most challenging about writing?

What's not challenging about writing?? For me, I'd say the most challenging part is finding a way to get out of my own way. To not overanalyze the crap out of every sentence is sometimes difficult for me to do, so I'm constantly trying to let go of my own self-judgments and fears to allow a natural flow and rhythm to come through. Editing and analyzing can always happen later. Hopefully by other people. 

If you were stuck on a desert island for the rest of your life with one book, what would it be?

I think I'm going to cheat on this one and say if I were stuck on a desert island for the rest of my life with one book, it would be a big blank one. And that I would have a writing utensil. This is only for the sake of my own mental health. 

If you had to get a tattoo of a quote from a literary work, what quote would you choose?

A tattoo of one quote is SUCH a hard question! I have quotes written down everywhere. Give me a few months and I'll get back to you. Can I get tattoos of them all? 

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

When I'm not writing I'm painting. I love the contrast of using words as expression with using color and shape. Painting was my first love, and it's been really cool to see how the more I write, the more my painting evolves. I wonder if it's working the other way around, too. 

Any words of wisdom for writers who are considering submitting to Out Loud?

Anything you wish we had asked you that we didn't?

To writers considering to submit- remember that none of this (arms wide open, gesturing to Life in General) really matters. I know, maybe a little morbid, but it's 5 minutes spent sharing a part of yourself with others who appreciate you. Why not? The first time I read Out Loud I was a nervous wreck and yet I will never, ever regret challenging myself to be vulnerable.  

Any you wish we'd asked that we didn't?

No. But I will add, I think writing is unique in that, unlike a painting, the consumer has to choose to spend the time to read the words and absorb them. It's not instant gratification, it's not fast. It's not a quick hit of feel good stuff and you have nothing to show for it after your done. To read something requires an investment of time and attention, precious commodities in a busy world. But imagination and fantasy and wonder and thrill and heartbreak- how awesome that writers can offer readers those experiences from the comfort of a favorite chair. What a beautiful exchange. Art is magic! Keep creating! 

My name is Rio and I grew up mostly in little Carpinteria, California. I'm an artist, therapist, writer, and appreciator of food. Sometimes I go outside. You can find my paintings at @artwork.rio on Instagram!