Back on track

November 11, 2013

blog_thad_rayFull Circle. A blog by Thad Ray.

I apologize. I realize that it’s been some time since I’ve posted a blog. I’ve been getting requests for new posts, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve had what I first thought was some type of writer’s block, and because of this, I was pretty lackadaisical in my approach to writing. Wait, let me correct that. I’m pretty lackadaisical in my approach to writing in general, and this perceived writer’s block made it even worse.

I’m fortunate enough to be one of those people that most things come easy to. Unfortunately, because of this ability, I tend to be lax when it comes to doing things. I procrastinate. I’m not organized. I don’t plan things well. Because it doesn’t take me as much effort to do most things as it does a lot of people, I’ve been able to get by with this approach for most of my life.

As a writer, I’m obsessive and neurotic. I write and re-write, until I think something is the best that it can possibly be. Which is never. And invariably, when I send something off for publication and see it in print, I can instantly think of 10 ways in which it could have been better. I also tend to be a bit insecure when it comes to my writing. Even though I’m pretty confident in my ability to write, creative writing can often be very personal, so when you put something out there for the world to read, in essence, you’re putting a part of yourself out there to be judged and criticized, and that can sometimes be a bit scary.

Fortunately I don’t have some super fragile ego. I think that I’m a pretty good writer, and I think that I generally do a decent job of organizing my thoughts and ideas into a readable format.

Just because I think that I’m a good writer doesn’t mean that I believe everything that I write is good though, or that everything I write should be published, and for a while, it seemed like nothing that I was writing should ever see the light of day. For someone to whom the words have always seemed to come rather easily, this phenomenon was rather disconcerting.
Recently I was reading Stephanie Wagner’s MCP Blog, ‘The Kitchen Sink’, and she said something that I thought was of the utmost importance, and was definitely a big part of the inspiration behind this post.

She said, “I wrote – and still do – because it helps me make sense of my world.”
Somewhere between the time I started writing and now, I had forgotten why I wrote in the first place. I think, to a certain extent, that I was so caught up in the idea of being a writer, I forgot that I always have been a writer, and the reason that I write, beyond the standard “It’s how I express myself” (well duh…), is, as Stephanie so succinctly stated, “It helps me make sense of my world.”

For a time, I put writing on a pedestal. I read a lot of the classics. I took a literature course, and I started to think of writing as more of an art than a craft. And for some reason, contrary to the way I’ve always written before, I thought that the inspiration should just come, and that the perfect words should just flow out in beautiful sentences. When things didn’t work out like that, I just chalked it up to lack of inspiration, flipped my muse the bird, and used it as a justification not to write.

I thought that like many other things, writing should come easy to me. And I guess it does, to a certain extent. Writing itself is easy. Sorting out the things in my head, figuring out what to say, figuring out the best way to say it, and then believing that it’s something worth being said, is the difficult part for me.

I started looking back through some of the things that I’d written over the past couple of years, looking for what I’d done then, that I couldn’t seem to do anymore, and I realized that all it came down to, was writing.

None of the things that I’d written previously were written in moments of inspiration, they were things that started as an idea, or a sentence that I liked, and I just worked at it. I worked at it until the words made sense. Until I got out what I wanted to say. Until I had crafted those words or those ideas into something that felt complete. Something that felt like it meant something. Something that I thought other people might be interested in. That’s how this piece came about. No inspiration, just a desire to say something, and putting in the work to get the finished piece as close as possible to the thoughts that I have in my head.

This will be the first piece of writing that I’ve finished in a couple of months (I say that with confidence, because I can feel the end is near), and I wrote it because I just couldn’t not write anymore. Writing is what I do. It’s a big part of who I am, and when I’m not writing, I feel like something is lacking, and I just couldn’t deal with that feeling anymore.

I’m going to try to mend my ways. I’m going to write more. I’m going to post more blogs, and I’m going to keep in mind that they don’t have to be works of art, but I’m hoping that they will at least help make a little bit of sense out of this world that we share.

Thanks Stephanie, for reminding me why I write. Thanks everyone who asked me about new blog posts. And thanks Rob Alway (MCP editor), for giving me an outlet and an audience for my neurotic ramblings. I think it might just turn out to be worthwhile.

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