Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I Write

Gratuitous Picture of a Cat
Here's an email I received yesterday (shared by kind permission of Heather and her son, Sam):
Hi Mike!
I have to tell you that I have a sixteen year old that has been on house arrest this entire summer. So, I, too have been on house arrest. However, I LOVE to read and I'm Buried in Books, (blog name and literally) so I am an avid reader. 

My son, Sam, used to love to read and read well above his grade level. He won spelling bees and had excellent test scores. Then, the expectations got so high that he wasn't able to meet them and so he was punished. While all the average and below average kids were rewarded for making their goals with a pizza party or ice cream sundaes, he had to do laps around the classroom. Needless to say, his desire to read was crushed. That was fourth grade. He's going into 11th grade. I combed my shelves looking for books for him to read this summer. He's not big on fantasy or romance, I have tons of MG and YA but most of my contemporaries are big on romance. So I remembered I'd picked up ASHFALL wanting to read it. I gave it to Sam to read it. He LOVED it! It might have taken him a week to read it. I promised to get him ASHEN WINTER so he read a few other things in between until I ordered it. One month later, he actually turned off the t.v. and the video game so he could finish ASHEN WINTER, which he finished in three days. 

Since fourth grade, he has chosen his books to read based on how few pages are in the book. I'm sure you're aware of how large your books are. We are anxiously awaiting SUNRISE and March! He's finally into reading again! He told me he learned a lot of new words from your novels, (Yay, SAT's coming up)! But more importantly, he's gotten his love of reading back. He's actually asking for a book. He is MAKING time to read. That is the sign of a good book. I don't think you could ask for a better review than that! You won't get any other kind from him. But know that you've made me very happy to see his love of reading given back to him!

Thank you for your incredible novels!


Two things:

1) This is why I write. Yes, I like winning awards. I've won my share. And yes, I like getting royalty checks. I'm making more money this year that I ever dreamed would be possible in year two of a writing career. But next time I doubt myself, believe I can't do it, I won't look at my last royalty statement or read the list of awards on my website. I'll pull out this email and reread it. (By the way, all writers struggle with self-doubt; it's just the nature of the beast.)

2) If you're the type of teacher who punishes kids who are struggling readers, please quit now. Seriously. I will raise funds online to pay your way through truck-driving school. You'll make more money as a truck driver, and you'll never, ever be around kids. Some a****** teacher cost this kid SEVEN M*****F****** YEARS OF HIS LITERARY LIFE. Yes, I'm yelling. And cussing. Sorry about that.

Don't get me wrong, I love teachers. I'm married to one, I love them so much. But not everyone has the talent, determination, temperament, or work ethic to be a teacher. If you can't hack it, hey, that's cool. I know I couldn't do it, so you're in good (maybe?) company. But switch careers before you mess up any more kids, please.

Let me close with Sam's own comments (also via email, and shared by kind permission from Sam, with minor edits by me):
Dear Mr. Mullin,
I really enjoyed reading your books. My mother originally got me the books a while ago but I wasn't really reading at the time. Well I read a lot of books this summer and I read Ashfall in about  day in a half. It was excellent. I read Ashen Winter even quicker even though it was a larger book. I have really enjoyed your books because they are truly brilliant. Please keep writing them. Make as many in this series as you can because Ashen Winter was even crazier than Ashfall. So I expect the next book to be very, very good. Thanks for writing back.
And that's why I write.

p.s. If you haven't already, be sure to enter the contest to win a signed manuscript of DARLA'S STORY, book #0.5 of the ASHFALL trilogy. The contest ends 9/4/13. Good luck!