Hitting the wall

“Your piece. I am not sure you are grokking this and I’m not sure what to do.”

That was the message that greeted me from Invictus organizer Brad King early on Tuesday evening. I stared at the screen, unsure of what to do or how to respond. I had been working on my story, sending revisions at near-daily clip. Numbering each draft had lost purpose; I was just throwing a date on each iteration sent to Brad and David Ake.

Brad ran a marathon last weekend and hit the wall with four miles to go. In that moment, he said he had two voices in his head: one telling him to give up and one telling him to put one foot in front of the other. Brad listened to the second voice, willing himself to the finish and not much more than a step farther.

This was my wall of the Invictus project. As I sat on my bed in my second-floor room of my Muncie home, I had a choice to make. I could pack it up, say I gave it my best shot, and let Invictus Vol. I be a six-person project.

“???”

Three minutes had passed since Brad’s first message as I had sat in silence. In that moment, though, all I could think about what this photo:

These were the photos we had taken April 9, the day the “final” drafts were really due. I had made it to that point. I was part of the group.

Most of my chapter is about me shying away from confrontation, taking the path of least resistance. No one would have stopped me if I had said I was dropping out that day, but I would have broken the message of my chapter. And I would have let down the people in that photograph.

So I sucked it up and asked Brad what I needed to do, figuring out what the next step I would have to take in order to finish my project. And he told me.

“I want you to do it. But I want you to DO it.”

Once I made it past Brad’s first message and told him and myself that I wasn’t going to give up, I had a feeling that I would get the project done. My last chance to quit had passed. Only the finish line awaited.

“Don’t be discouraged. I am annoyed, but Rhett — I’m always fucking annoyed.”

For the next few days, my primary focus became writing. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about the scenes I needed to add and the details that needed to be included. This was a crash course in writing. I was going through Brad’s fabled “Intro to Magazine Writing” class — a 16-week course — in three days.

So tonight, when I saw this tweet, I knew I was another step closer to the end.

For now, I’m more focused on the word “almost” than anything else in that message, though. Until that caveat is removed, nothing has been accomplished.

But “almost” will go away — soon.