Monday, March 23, 2009

Thanks Are In Order

Of late, with my brain going a million different directions and some days incredibly bleak for a new subject on which to write, I have relied heavily on suggestions, questions, and conversations I have had with friends. Their assistance, direct or otherwise, has proved invaluable. Were it not for their curiosity, their probing (and at times uncomfortable) inquiries, and their patience, I would have been high and dry a number of times.

I have often lamented in private that while I can write and it will come out decently, I can edit and improve a document that would otherwise appear mediocre, and I can work on the web page and make it look halfway professional, I cannot do all three with any degree of success. The quality always suffers. But into the midst of this struggle have stepped a number of volunteers who, though they have real lives and responsibilities that far exceed mine, have taken time from their days to assist me. What was once seemed an insurmountable task is becoming manageable, solely because of their enthusiastic help.

One friend has helped edit the information I have posted on my website and its various secondary pages, viciously attacking superlatives, run-on sentences, verbosity, and unprofessional writing. I needed it. I have taken most of this friend's suggestions and walked away with a better web page. Heaven knows my writing needs work.

Another friend has been meticulously poring through all the documents I have already posted on the page, sorting the wheat from the chaff, and helping me improve on material I have arrogantly assumed to be beyond reproach. This is a painful task for me, and I am thankful for the help with it. Nothing makes me want to quit writing more than reading my own material. It's exhausting. But this friend has graciously helped, and e-mailed me file after file of edited text that I will soon be incorporating. Without this help, what is already posted would see no improvement at all - though it certainly needs it.

A third friend serves as a willing sounding board and has offered to examine every blog post before it even hits the blog; turning garbage into something halfway readable, offering suggestions, and often teasing out of me a stronger thesis statement. If I had not received this assistance, many posts would lack the power they now have (hopefully). I appreciate this friend's willingness to wait often until the wee hours of the morning to read through something that is in grave need of repair.

Without their collective help, which is completely unprecedented, I would overwhelmed with literally 1,000 pages of poorly-written, hastily-published nonsense that lacked any significant meat.

A fourth friend arranged an opportunity to connect my passion with people who truly want to understand, and in so doing may have thrown wide open a number of other doors I have been struggling to enter for quite some time.

And there are others along the way, who have held me accountable, expected more from me, and patiently suggested how I might better present ideas. I have lost count of the times they have assisted me, said just the right words, or asked just the right questions.

For getting me started in this, I have three great friends and confidants to thank, and I will name them here, because they deserve the recognition.

To Sarah, for reminding me that somebody is curious, that somebody cares, and that for as long as I present something that's worthwhile, there will be an audience there to warmly receive it, just as she and many others have warmly received hundreds of other veterans. She keeps me chipping away at issues I have yet to fully understand and articulate, and asks me good questions.

To Uncle Caesar for encouraging me to write, and asking why one thing worked and another did not, for being the "wise man I know" whose words I often cite. For enthusiastically reading whatever drivel I write and invariably writing something nice about it. His nudging has propelled me from avid e-mailer to daily writer, something I never anticipated would happen. He, too, asks good questions.

To Ray, for telling me to just write, write, write, for encouraging me when I didn't want to and seeing promise where few others observed it. For sparking conversations that would later appear almost verbatim online, rudely not accredited to him. For reminding me to invite God with me, and seeing hope, not indecision and failure. He is a hortator.

These three, above all else, have helped me move from wandering motorcyclist and daily blogger to a writer who may actually be writing professionally, overseas, and pursuing a dream they envisioned before I had even discovered it. They are my muses and my foundation. Without them, I'd still be in the desert.

There are others, already too numerous to thank individually, but they, too, deserve credit and thanks, and I offer it now, probably the first time of many. Were it not, however, for the seven mentioned above, the past 9 months of writing would have amounted to little, and my dreams would remain intangible indefinitely. To all of you: thank you. Keep pressuring me, because I still need it. The best, you keep insisting, is yet to come.

Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
All Rights Reserved


  1. This is always been a two way street. I have learned so much from you. Because of our mutual respect for each other, Ben you have opened my eyes to help me better understand the unique life and untold stories of a combat veteran. And this understanding has helped me in my passion for supporting our veterans.

    Thank You

    I am flattered to be in the same company as Uncle Ceasar and Ray. Will I ever met you two?!
    I think I speak for them and many others with this quote:
    "To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it."
    Benjamin Franklin

  2. "Without them, I'd still be in the desert."

    Did anyone else find this to be ironic imagery? Because you are hoping to go right back there, just not metaphorically speaking.

  3. We're all here to support you. Just keep your chin up and remember you're doing a great job!

  4. Elizabeth, that is metaphoric desert.