Monday, May 2, 2005

For Aiden

(Note: I didn't originally write this blog post on the day indicated in the time-stamp, but it's important for me to add it retroactively because every day I've spent since on my book has been built upon the first day I wrote the first word for my son.)

I don't get to see my son, Aiden, as much as I'd like. There are a number of reasons for this I don't care to go into. I mention this more to introduce the idea that my book is - and has always been - a bridge for me to connect with Aiden when I can't see him.

It took me a long time to realize this was the purpose my book served. At first, I just thought I really loved what I was writing. There was some truth in that. I have always been passionate about space. But I have started several books in the past. Why did this one grab me so? What I realized, in my introspection, is a story unto itself. And like all stories, it starts at the beginning...

I have never been the guy who wanted a family right away. I always loved my parents, and brother, and extended relations, but having my own family was tantamount to other ambitions.

I wanted to build companies.

I wanted to summit mountains.

I wanted to explore the world.

Those were my top priorities in life until that fateful day I held my son for the first time. People will tell you all kinds of things about what that moment is like for them, but for me, everything changed. Yes, I am prone exaggerations, but this isn't one of them.

Holding my tiny son - only a week old, his eyes shut to the world, his pink body quivering from the cold of life - changed me. Suddenly, there was someone on this Earth, I'd created. It was like building the greatest company in the world, summiting the highest mountain, and suddenly knowing the whole globe. I felt it within myself as clearly as I knew I drew breath. He shook me, and he did so even more because I had to come to terms with his birth very quickly.

So, my life changed. I became more about growing my own strength so Aiden could grow his. I wanted to give him everything he ever wanted as well as some things I never had. I supported him financially, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, but I wanted to give him something even more. Something that was unique between just us. So during the long weeks between our times together, I started a story. It was the story of a bright, young boy and his grandfather who he doesn't get to see very much. It was about a special time when they were able to escape reality and come together on a grand adventure. The grandfather taught the boy things. The boy taught the grandfather things.

I'm not sure when I wrote the first word. I know it was shortly before Aiden's second birthday, around the time his mother and my troubles began and it became harder for me to see him. I do remember where it was written and how I felt when I bolted out the first twenty pages in one sitting. I was at Peet's Coffee in Cambridge, MA and from the start I felt that first word form an intimate link to my son I became addicted to. Each word that met paper brought me closer to him. The dialog let me talk to my son when I couldn't. Grandfather hugging Zack became me hugging Aiden when I couldn't. I'd started nine stories before the Onyx Sun, but this was the first I completed, because I became addicted to our bond, our relationship, and our adventures.

Of course, a book is sad replacement for a son, but in a situation with few options, it became a treasured piece of my life. That first word became 80,000 more. Those 80,000 became Aiden and my connection - a connection I nurtured ritualistically, reading through the story twelve times and spending hundreds of hours editing.

That's why, through this entire three-year process, I have known the dedication for my book from the beginning - a dedication that states my son is still the end and beginning of all things for me:

"For my son, and illuminating inspiration, Aiden James."

This blog, this story, this adventure. Every word written, every dollar spent, every step taken. This entire effort is for Aiden. So one day he may hopefully appreciate we always had the most intimate of bonds, even if we weren't always together.