All the “Wright” Stuff

It’s funny how the world turns. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I realized that my chances of becoming a professional athlete were about as small as my 5’11” 155 LB frame. Writing is something that I’ve always figured myself to be pretty good at, but there are times in everybody’s lives when you simply doubt your capabilities.

For a football player, it might be when they see a Walter Payton highlight reel. For a musician, it might be when they hear a Frank Sinatra vinyl. For someone who wants to be a writer, I’d have to say it happens every time you read one of those timeless pieces from the past or present.

Last night I was up until well after 3 A.M. It’s a fairly typical occurrence in my household, but more often than not it has something to do with a project I’m working on or something I’m watching. Last night it all started with a Wright Thompson article from a couple of years ago titled, “Shadow Boxing.”

I’d read this article before, and I was just as amazed by Thompson’s ability to immerse you in the story when I first read it as I am now. However, now, at a time when I have started to take writing more seriously, it seems to have greater meaning.

After losing myself in the saga of “Sweet Jimmy,” a man who once tangoed with Muhammad Ali and seemingly vanished without a trace, I dove head first into nearly every Wright Thompson piece my browser could get its hands on. As a sports fan, Thompson’s ability to take a sports story and make you completely forget about the game and fully intertwine you with the underlying fabric of the moment is second to none.

After reading a few more of Thompson’s articles, my mood changed from complete and total awe, to slightly perturbed. It wasn’t because I was tired and it certainly wasn’t because of the quality of the content. It was because I realized that it was one of those aforementioned moments when you doubt your capabilities.

For me, it doesn’t matter whether or not I work at the plant down the road from my house for the rest of my life or if I actually find a way to make something out of writing, because I can assure you that, either way, I will write until the day God closes the curtains on this show they call life. I know for a fact that at least one person enjoys my writing, and that’s me, and that makes me a writer, even if it’s only in the simplest sense of the word.

So as I read Wright Thompson’s work during the wee hours, as a writer, I had to question myself. Will I ever be this good?

Writing about a 3-4 defense or telling people why I think the Chicago White Sox should trade so-and-so is easy, but to be able to take something as rudimentary as a game and relate it to life is a talent so few have ever been blessed with.

However, as I began to sulk over the fact that I had become smitten with Thompson’s work and could likely never captivate an audience as he had with me, I had a revelation. The great thing about writing is its relativity. As infatuated as I am with Wright Thompson’s work, there is undoubtedly someone out there equally as appalled by it. Just like there are still people who will disregard “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” as classics, despite the fact that the majority of people who have read either would strongly disagree.

As I write this, I’m not sure that it fits the bill for the Tennessee Volunteers website I write for ( or the Chicago White Sox website I edit ( Hell, to be honest with you I’m not sure if it will ever be published at all, but I felt the need to scribe one of these meaningless personal epiphanies anyways.

I will say as a disclaimer to anybody out there who ever reads this and hasn’t read my work before; I promise I’m not usually so sappy. This went from being one of my typical late night musings and wound up being a personal revelation. Typically I try to toe the line between informative and satirical, but occasionally I manage to get a little wordy and overly idealistic (like now.)

At this point I’m not sure if this piece is good, bad, or if it’s my own personal version of Jerry Maguire’s mission statement, destined to bury me, but in the end time will tell.

But, I suppose that’s true of everything.


About Ryan Wooden

Told people I was a sportswriter enough times for it to become true. Contributor at, correspondent for the Morris Daily Herald, general freelancer and all-around idiot.
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