A few weeks ago, I metioned that my wife convinced me to, at the very least, explore the option of writing a book about my son Matt and what it’s been like raising a child with Autism. Our story, or better yet his story, needs to be told.
I have to say, though, it’s not easy. Writing a book can be a big pain in the ass. A lot of organization is involved and certainly a lot of discussion as to what stories to tell, what details to divulge or how to balance privacy concerns with being open and truthful.
So far, I’m learning the hard way.
I originally made some half-ass outline and tried to tailor the book around the various blogs I’ve written about Matt. I even finished the “Acknowledgements” page before anything else because I had a good idea on how to tie in a rip about LeBron James (don’t ask.) I had about 12,000 words written and spent quite a few hours writing when I pretty much realized I had to start all over.
Actually my editors (a.k.a. the wife and in-laws) said I wasn’t thinking big enough; that the story needed to be much more than a few blogs and some funny stories. They were right but that meant a lot more work. So I took a big step back, scrapped the original outline, and focused on the big picture.
Only when we all seemed to agree on the layout of the content, could writing begin. It may not be as light-hearted and humorous as I originally hoped but I think my writing style (for what it’s worth) will help make the serious topic of autism more readable.
Even if that doesn’t prove to be the case, I’m not so sure I care anymore. Not because the book doesn’t matter, because it does – more than ever actually – but because of the experience I’m having just doing it.
Reliving the memories of Matt as a baby have been wonderful. Talking about the emotions and feelings felt during the initial tests and diagnosis has been somewhat “healing” (if that’s the right word). Realizing how far he’s come in his battle to kick autism’s ass has been incredible.
Who knows how this book will turn out or even if it ever gets published? I certainly don’t expect to hit the New York Times best seller list nor have I fooled myself into believing there’ll ever be a profit made.
Yet when it’s all written and it passes my editor’s proverbial muster, I’m going to take young Matt to lunch – just he and I – and tell him ‘thank you’. Thank you for the wonderful ride you’ve put me on but more importantly, thank you for teaching me more about life than I’ll be able to teach you.