I mention that I write Westerns and folks look askance. Does anyone read Westerns these days? Do you watch them? I ask.
Sure they do, and that's how most of us got into Westerns, via the big, and then the small, screen. But what sets Western aficionados apart is a willingness to go back and not just forwards in time. Take a look at the Tom Mix films available on YouTube.
Son of a Pennsylvanian lumberman, Tom Mix worked on a ranch in Oklahoma while it was still an Indian Territory. He paraded with the Rough Riders, was part of the Miller Brothers Wild West Show. Even before the movies he, and the West, had one foot in reality and one foot in myth. In his movies he's clean-cut, well-spoken, dressed from a high-class store - it's about as far from the reality of the 1880s West as can be ridden in three days, but it doesn't deter from the sense of space, of responsibility, of self-reliance that the Western genre conjures in our collective psyche.
Western fiction has been looked down upon since the days of the Dime Novel, when the West as we know it was still being carved. So if you want to smirk, be my guest. You're hardly the first.