Do thoughts contribute to the illusory patterns we call “the self?”
No. There is no self. There has never been a self. Self is a misperception of what seems to be happening. The sense of self is something that seems to be happening until it stops happening and then it was seen to never have been.
I believe that our obsessive thoughts define who we are in the present. You obsessively think about thinking leading you to write about the depths of philosophy and psychology from your subjective point of view, influencing the thought of others themselves. On that note, I would consider our thoughts to be like a flowing river, not clouds. Thoughts shape reality just as a river carves through rock.
There is no you, and there is no me. There is just what seems to be happening. Thoughts are labeled as obsessive. Stories about how writing occurs are happening. Apparent perspectives seem to happen. Conceptualizations happen. Causality seems to happen.