It’s one thing for a journalist to research, interview, and write about an issue or a person. It’s another to turn that spotlight around and shine it full on yourself.
When you do, billboard-size “DANGER” signs, flashing in orange-red neon, scream at you from every intersection, every turn and curve along the way.
I Need You to Know: A Bouquet of Stories for My Son, will soon be out. What will people think? Am I revealing too much of myself? Or those close to me? Could something I don’t even know about myself slip through the lines?
And what, if anything, will come back to bite me, and maybe others, on the bum, as unintended as it may be?
What about Fionn, my 18-year-old? The person for whom all these stories, letters, recollections and thoughts have been carefully scribed onto the page in black and white, visible to all and any–and potentially–for ever more. Will he be embarrassed by any of it? Of course I warned him and revealed tidbits along the way, but what about the final product? “And if you don’t enjoy it now quite as much as I’m hoping you will, you may appreciate it more as you grow older,” I optimistically say in the book’s introduction. “Even your children may one day relish these delicious stories and delight in teasing you forever more.”
At one point in the process, I hauled out a picture of him as a two- or three-year-old. He stands naked, his head turned coyly into his shoulder, a finger hanging at the corner of his mouth. “Ah shucks,” he seems to be saying.
“Hey Fionn,” I call out, holding up my find. “I’m thinking of this for the cover, whaddya think?”
“Uh, very funny, Mom. That’s child pornography, you’ll get arrested,” he says and then a Fionn-smile breaks out, lighting up his face.
When people ask, and I tell them what the book is about, they too smile. “What an amazing gift…your son is so lucky…how beautiful…”
Yes, it has been a labour of love. Now, with the journey almost over, I hope and pray all will be well with the final result.
As for my fears, I will simply swallow them. And if and when Trouble comes banging on my book cover door, I will simply throw it open and welcome it into my humble parlour.
Who knows? Trouble might just put its feet up and relax. Stranger things have happened.