(Originally posted at The League of Extraordinary Writers)

A few weeks ago, in the midst of this exhausting book tour for ASHEN WINTER, I saw this tree:

It’s an old, hollowed out sycamore tree growing beside a stream in Fortville, Indiana. From the top of that seemingly dead trunk sprouts a vibrant young sycamore about six inches in diameter. I took a picture because the image plucked a chord within me.

Sometimes students ask why I became a writer. And I tell them it was the only job left after I got fired from every other profession I tried. I answer that way because it’s funny, and I like to be extremely candid in my interactions with students–they can smell fakers from all the way down the hall.

But the truth is that I fired myself; I quit most of the jobs I held before I was a writer. I did a bit of everything: janitor, marketing executive, wine salesman, and remodeling company owner among others. In each job, I felt like that old sycamore tree, getting progressively more hollow as small daily iniquities rotted me and office politics gnawed my core.

Now, I feel more like that new tree, growing fast and proud from a base of failure. In another sense, though, all those abandoned careers were anything but a failure. Everything I tried informs my writing today. The new tree could not exist without the roots the old one put down.

3 thoughts on “Renewal

  1. Hi Mike- I enjoyed this post. I like folks who are candid without being obnoxious. I just read your book Ashfall. I don’t normally gravitate to fiction books, but I thoroughly enjoyed yours. It was well written- very descriptive. As a writer of several books myself, I’m always looking at how others present themselves and hoping to glean whatever benefits I can. Congratulations on a book well written. I look forward to reading more of your work.
    Tom Botts

  2. Great Post! I’m a high school librarian and just finished Ashfall and Ashen Winter. They were amazing! I loved the “oh crap- this could really happen!” feeling and it felt like I was in the middle of the ash with Alex and Darla. And now I want to sign up for karate… Thanks again for writing AWESOME books! Can’t wait for Sunrise!

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