And Back Again.
Two months ago, if someone asked if I would ever consider doing the Invictus Project again, I would have blankly stared at them and said a resounding, “No way in hell.” And then, immediately after hearing Brad was doing the project again, I found myself in his office. It was like I was drawn there by a force inside me that I didn’t fully understand. A force I still don’t understand.
No one, aside from David Ake, and now I suppose me, has willingly volunteered to participate in Invictus twice. And now I’m sitting here wondering why I want to put myself through this again. As Brad says many times, writing is the hardest thing to do. You sit there, and you analyze life. You write down the finest, seemingly insignificant yet altogether awe-inspiring details that others don’t see. You open the wounds of your life, expose them to the world, and try to reach through the ether to connect with someone, anyone, just one other human being. Maybe I’m some sort of masochist, but that sounds perfect to me.
Even though my piece did not get published in the previous Invictus book, in a way I’m grateful for it. I can see Brad nodding his head violently and saying, “Yes.” And believe me, it took a night of angry tears to accept it and agree with him. It wasn’t even that I didn’t get published, or I felt like I was a bad writer or anything. My first crack at Invictus was a coping catalyst. I had never analyzed the scars of my life before. I considered myself to be a pretty open and emotionally mature person. But in reality, before Invictus I would have much rather gone for a run, or sang, or slept, or drawn, or read, or done almost anything I could to avoid thinking about the bittersweet painful beauty that is life. Because that’s what I thought being normal meant. You can’t reopen your wounds for the world to see if you’re still stitching them up yourself. So instead I let my wounds fester, and used Invictus as bandage dressing.
So I’m doing Invictus again because I know I can write better. I know I have something to say. I know that one bad attempt does not define me. Invictus breathed life back into me. It reawoken my love of writing, real writing, and it gave me the courage to fail, again, and again, and again. But as long as I keep coming back to it, eventually there will be a time when something I write will have weight.
Now that the past has been aired out once again, I can look forward to what my second attempt at Invictus will be. There’s new writers, new stories, a whole new dynamic. The Hermeneutical circle comes to mind, and I know it won’t be the same as before, but a small part of me wishes it could be. And yet, I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything differently.
The disappointment I had with my last piece was that I felt I didn’t do the story, or myself, justice. But I’m worried. Do I even have another story to tell? If I retell (refresh, completely rewrite) the old story, does that mean I’m a one trick pony? I suppose I’ll have to find out one way or the other. And if the story I write fails in the ways my first Invictus attempt did, I’ll be right back again. It won’t be through Invictus though; we all have to move on some time. But I will try again, and again, and again. I’ll always be back.