What is a Writer?

November 18, 2018 ·

Greetings! Salutations! Oh, who am I kidding – Hi there! I’m Rylee Black . . . well, my pen name is Rylee Black. My real name isn’t important right now. I’m a mystery writer and more who is currently working on two series with five complete books in the first, and two more nearing completion (first book available HERE).

I came up with this ramble (with some unsolicited assistance from a couple characters) after skulking in the shadows of a Facebook writers group and eavesdropping on a discussion about what it means to be a writer. I hope you enjoy it and get a feel for who I am and what I do.

What is a writer? That’s a pretty basic question, right? A question with so simple an answer that, upon posing the question in my mind, a couple of my characters who have a tendency toward sarcasm and smarta**edness (love ya Candice and Darby), gave me the side eye with ‘are you kidding me’ looks on their faces. Candice, the more established of the two, and thus the one who feels the most comfortable mocking me, quickly piped in and said: “Uh, someone who writes maybe?”

Yes Candice, my dear friend (please note the thick layer of sarcasm of my own) a writer, in the most basic sense, is someone who writes. But, I was looking for something just a tad deeper. If you don’t mind, I’d kinda like to write this without you Darby, or any of the others living inside my head tossing in their two cents. Waits patiently for acknowledgement – hears crickets chirping. No respect, I get absolutely no respect.

Aaannyway . . . back to the question at hand.

As we’ve established, a writer, in the most rudimentary sense, is indeed ‘someone who writes.’ If we delve a little deeper, we might say a writer is a storyteller, or a reporter of news, or one who either offers sanity – or as is most often the case – insanity – by supplying us with instruction manuals. To me, at the very deepest, a writer is much more. We are astoundingly complex entities.

F. Scott Fitzgerald put it like this: ‘Writers aren’t exactly people . . . they’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.
That statement, though giving an allusion of the depth and complexity I was looking for, is still somewhat simplistic. Yes, there are others living in my mind, so many in fact that I find it somewhat difficult to concentrate where and when I need to. But it is so much more. I’m sure writers aren’t the only ones who hear voices in their minds. Put your hand down Darby, I know what you’re going to say, but we’ll leave out exactly which of the other categories I might fall into out of this, okay?

It looks like maybe I should just get to my point. To me a writer is someone who brings to life the people inside their heads. But it really isn’t just people. The people are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We are also a whole bunch of towns, and places, and scenes. We are multiple plotlines and story arcs. We are the endless chatter in our heads and the barrage images.

We battle euphoric highs, devastating lows, debilitating writer’s block, and crippling self-doubt. We spend hours learning all the rules of novel writing if for no other reason than to learn how to break them effectively. We mostly live on too much coffee, and too little sleep, all while bemoaning the necessity of a ‘day job’ and our lack of writing time. We deal with being awakened in the middle of the night with the perfect scene we needed to finish a chapter or a book, only to fall back asleep and awake in the morning to the mocking voices of our characters telling us we should have gotten up and written that scene down because there’s no way in h*** we’re going to remember it now that it’s morning.

No person, no place, and no situation is ever just that to a writer. Everything we encounter in life sparks our creativity and results in a character, a storyline, a scene, or a plotline. Sometimes just a single word can fill our minds with a myriad of possibilities. We often find ourselves at the receiving end of odd looks because we’ve once again lost ourselves in the worlds we’ve created and been standing there looking lost.

We Google things no sane person would/should Google, all while wondering which agencies our searches have alerted and what lists our names now appear on. We prowl writing groups looking for empathy, sympathy, and if we’re honest with ourselves – a little validation. And if we’re going to be really, really honest, sometimes we’re looking for a comparison to make ourselves feel better.

At this point you might ask why I would willingly do this? Now that answer is easy. Because I love it! Plain and simple. I couldn’t imagine ever not writing. Does it drive me insane? Why yes, yes it does. (As do some of my more persistent characters 😉 ). But I’ll keep writing. I’m crazy about casts of characters, the towns they live in, and the places they take me. A non-writer could never understand the connection we writers develop with our ‘imaginary’ friends.

In the end, writing is my ultimate escape from reality. Better than television by far. And even better than reading. Because when I write, I am creating the story (though my characters might argue that point). It’s like an addiction – but a good one. One that creates a form of art that someday (fingers crossed) will be someone else’s escape, if only for a little while.

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  1. Good article Rylee.
    The questions of what is a writer, and why do we write are both hard and easy.
    For most of us, it’s like breathing;
    We kinda have to do it to keep living.
    The stories we tell, are probably basically adventures we’d like to have ourselves.
    Or maybe Not.
    We both know some of the things our characters do should NEVER be done by anyone.
    Be we keep creating characters that live in worlds we dream up, in Time and places that did or did not exist.
    Yes, though our oven version of Hell, known as Writer’s Block, and Rabbit Holes that often lead to nowhere, all in the name of telling a good story.
    Why ?
    Damed If I know..

    1. Thanks Kenneth 🙂 Writing is both Heaven and Hell I suppose. I do know there’s no better feeling than when you see your characters come to life and quickly become friends.

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  3. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am going through problems with your RSS.
    I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it.
    Is there anybody having the same RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond?

    1. I don’t know why you were having issues subscribing to the RSS feed, but I have checked it and it is working just fine for me. The feed URL is http://www.ryleeblackbooks.com/feed and I have also added a feed subscription button to the site. I hope you’re able to get the issue resolved and are able to enjoy Rylee’s blog posts however you enjoy consuming all of your content. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment! We hope to see you return for more of Rylee’s content in the future. Please, check back regularly for her newest updates!
      Nicholas H. Smith

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