How I Spent My Summer

I was busy this summer.  I’m thrilled to announce my first traditionally published book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author.  My soul is in this book, it contains hard won knowledge attained from 20 years in the writing business. Please click on the attached link below to download your FREE PREVIEW of the book before it’s released to the public in mid-October. Also, feel free to share this link with anyone you know who is interested in writing. Thanks for your support!

Link to download the exclusive preview:

http://www.authorspublish.com/press/sample/

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Losing Our Humanity

We hear it all the time…there’s no stopping change. We’ve been led to believe that you must either learn to be flexible and operate within ever changing parameters or be rendered obsolete. This doesn’t mean you always have to like it or it’s the best thing for all parties concerned.

In the last 50 years technology has thrust change upon us time and time again. One profession that is queued up to take a huge hit is that of the taxi driver. In America, car services like Uber and Lyft are the more immediate threats to the traditional taxi cab by offering what most would consider a better experience at about 20% less cost. The death blow for the whole taxi industry will be delivered by a bulbous little car that looks like it’s smiling. Google’s pod-like self driving car is expected to be on the roads in every major city within the next 10 years and for the taxi industry it will be disastrous.

Just think how nice it will be to pay a monthly subscription fee and have access to a car to meet you within minutes of wherever you are. You’ll be able to read the a book, browse Facebook (safely and legally), take selfies, or even enjoy a power nap while being driven to your destination. There will be obvious benefits to the elderly and it will be great for those who’ve had a few too many drinks and need to catch a ride home. Sure, this technology will provide convenience but like many of our recent technological advances I think it’s bound to make life far less interesting.

My wife and I live in a upper Midwestern city that’s so spread out we need to own cars to get around. The only time I have a chance to ride in a taxi is on the way to the airport which amounts to a couple of times a year. Still I’ve acquired a long list of interesting memories from these rides in a taxi. There must be something about the anonymity of the encounter that makes some taxi drivers willing to reveal deeply personal things that they normally wouldn’t.

I remember one frigid February morning, my wife and I were heading to the airport to catch a dreadfully early flight. The cab arrived at our door and standing next to it was a gruff man who appeared to be in his sixties with about two days of gray stubble on his face. We said good morning and he only grunted. We told him we needed to go to the main terminal of MSP. He said nothing but radiated this immense irritation. As the cab pulled away from the curb he clicked on the radio and the station played nothing but 70’s love songs all the way to the airport. We think we saw a small tear spill out from his eye during Hall and Oates’, “Baby Come Back”. As he was getting our luggage out of the trunk we handed him a pretty sizable tip, his face lit up in one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen and he politely said, “Thank you.” It was a complete transformation.

On another occasion, again on the way to the airport, a taxi driver of about the same advanced age came to pick us up. He was eager to talk and seemed like an average grandfatherly type. We chatted it up for a few miles and he told us about how he got into the profession. Shortly after he asked if we’d mind listening to the radio and we obliged. We were fully expecting light rock or oldies but no, he prefered to listen to something much different, gansta rap. We felt as if we were in a movie scene. The cab driver’s head was bobbing rhythmically to the beat. He told us later that his stepdaughter was a local rapper and he was introduced to the music this way. Again, an experience that totally blew away preconceptions.

On a trip to Chicago we were picked up by cabbie in his mid-thirties. He was already seasoned, you could tell. In our short ride to a Bucktown restaurant he told us all of the exciting moments of his career including the exploits of a few national celebrities and local politicians who he had driven. No detail was spared. All I can say is I hope he embellished. If not, then the world is even more twisted than I imagine it to be.

I have more taxi stories but I’ll save them for another time. The point is we’re about to lose this. In just a few years this experience of getting into a car with a stranger that you’ll likely never see again will be gone forever. Yes, the experience is awkward and it’s uncomfortable at first but in the end you walk away with a memory that enriches your life and maybe just make you rethink a stereotype. It opens you up to new possibilities.

Change for the sake of change isn’t always a great thing. As a species we must progress beyond this honeymoon phase we have with technology. We’re transfixed. It’s a love affair and we’re mad about the newest, the fastest, the best. We must learn to have the foresight and the courage to think deeply about how change really impacts us and make appropriate decisions accordingly. One thing is for sure, little by little we’re losing our humanity. When you consider our traits sometimes this isn’t a bad thing but let’s be careful not to lose the good.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Writing Saved My Life

Writing Saved My Life.

I’m what you would consider the polar opposite of Hunter S. Thompson or Ernest Hemingway in the sense that writing doesn’t summons my demons but rather it helped to deliver me from them. Writing words that have the power to capture people didn’t come naturally to me, it took years of hard work.

I began writing when I was in my early twenties. In hindsight most of what I wrote was bad to mediocre poetry. I didn’t make a dime off of it but it was a kind of therapy to help heal me from years of anxiety and depression. Writing allowed me to express bottled up feelings and emotions privately in the comfort of my own space, in my own time. I wrote every single day.

It was at some point in my mid twenties that I decided that I was going to attempt to write for a living. I had no idea how to go about this. Honestly, this has been a blessing and at times a curse. The road I’ve chosen hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve worked a day job for the last twenty years while building my writing career. I’ve watched nearly all of my peers at my day job pass me on the ladder of success. During my moments of waning hope I would sometimes feel like I’ve wasted my life pursuing a pipe dream.

I’m lucky in the fact that the strongest trait in my family’s bloodline is tenacity. So through it all I kept the faith and continued to do what my ancestors have always done. I worked, I honed, I soaked up all the knowledge I could while I waited for my moment to arrive. When I was younger I really believed that success would come all at once some day when a publisher or someone in the business would “discover me” and my life would be forever changed. I realize now this isn’t how it happens for most of us.

One day, shortly after I published my novel in 2013, I woke up. I realized that a writing career isn’t a destination as much as it is a lifelong journey. Ever since I had this epiphany I’ve viewed writing to be the great blessing that it is. In life no one can hand you your dream, you must to seize it on your own. When I realized this everything changed.

In these last few years I’ve been lucky enough to connect with so many wonderful and interesting people from places like New Zealand, Britain, France, Estonia, and Africa. Each time I publish a book or an article it feels as though I’m sending something I’ve given birth to out into the world to make its mark. Words can’t describe the joy that I feel when someone really is touched by something I’ve written and it changes them or even makes them stop for a moment to think.

My first traditionally published book, “One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way As An Indie Author” will be released in just a few weeks. I have jitters like I’ve never experienced before. Will this be the book that changes my life? My life has already been changed through these last twenty years. I no longer chase after material success but rather do the best work I possibly can and will already be smiling with contentment the day it catches up to me. I owe everything to writing and my readers. Because of writing and you I am already wealthy beyond measure in everything that matters. For this, I’m thankful.

With Gratitude,

~Eric Vance Walton~

Ditching Satellite Television – Eight Months Later…The Conclusion

As many of you might remember my wife and I got fed up with the insane cost of satellite TV earlier this year and decided to seek out other alternatives. We opted to try a digital antenna (Amazon.com, $30 one time cost) which brings in 24 free stations from the air and AppleTV (refurbished from the Apple Store, $79 one time cost). We subscribed to HuluPlus and Netflix through AppleTV for a total monthly charge of under $17.00 versus the $130 per month we paid for satellite television.

We’re eight months into our experiment and have discovered a few things, some of them we expected and some we very much did not. Obviously, we love the cost savings. The total return on the investment of $109 for the antenna and AppleTV was made back the very first month after we cancelled our satellite tv subscription. We have $100+ more in the bank now at the end of every month. What’s not to love about that?

Now it’s going to get real. First, there was the honeymoon period. For the first few months our excitement over the cost savings carried us through with smiles on our faces. For me, doubt began to set in around the third month. We found ourselves starting to grumble about the lack of good things to watch on tv. Although Netflix does have really good independent and foreign films (which I love), the bulk of their mainstream movies are horribly outdated for the most part. HuluPlus? Forget about it unless you missed all of the bad movies from the 1980’s and 1990’s. AppleTV has a vast variety of current movies but our internet connection isn’t fast enough to stream them. For more current movies Redbox is a great option.

Over the air TV programming during our peak viewing time of 6 to 8PM consists of nightly network news, Wheel of Fortune, and a few sitcoms. The former of which bombards you with a steady stream of depressing/negative stories, fear mongering, and mostly nonsense. Our savior has been a combination of PBS and a weak local over-the-air channel that plays reruns of 1970’s sitcoms like MASH and Sanford and Son.

Now for some of the things that we weren’t anticipating. We are watching far less television. As a result we have more of our time to do other things, like read, listen to good music, exercise, and write (for me). This has enhanced our lives in ways that are both measurable and in many ways that aren’t. We find that we aren’t zoned out in front of the tube so we talk more. About six months into the experiment I noticed that my brain isn’t as fuzzy, my mental recall is faster, and even my perception of reality had become vastly different than it was before.

Even before this experiment began we watched far less television than the average American. Still, this transformation took a full six months to start to occur. Once I reduced my television viewing I began to realize on a deeper level that the importance our society places on celebrity gossip, consumerism, and trends seem utterly ridiculous given the more serious things going on in the world. Some programming seems like an absolute insult to your intelligence.

Eight months into life without satellite TV life is different but I can assure you that it’s better. I feel more intuned with my body and soul, I feel healthier physically and mentally, I have more free time, and there’s more money in my wallet. I realize that more than our television was deprogrammed as the result of canceling that satellite television subscription! In conclusion, although I miss American Pickers and a few other shows, the positives far outweigh the negatives. A veil has been lifted and our lives are so much better for it.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Finding My Way Back To Me

Only a year ago I felt as though I was living in a nightmare.

For the previous year and a half I was working 50-60 stressful hours a week at my day job, writing and self publishing my first novel, and trying my best to hold my personal life together. I was stretched far beyond the point of exhaustion, unable to sleep, constantly anxious, and feeling desperately stuck. I even started to rely on a couple of glasses of wine each night just to unwind. What was so shocking to me was how quickly my life had become unbalanced. I hadn’t gotten there overnight but it certainly felt that way.

Despite two decades of meditation, I had become disconnected and so immersed in getting through each day every aspect of my life suffered. Finally, one morning I woke up and realized I was just tired of being tired, sick of feeling like this was all my life would ever be. I grew weary of the intense frustration of not having the time to write or promote books that I had written. After all, my writing career was my ultimate dream and my day job was consuming all of my energy and most of my joy.

During the darkest hours the positive reviews of my novel, dialogue with my readers on social media and writing in general gave me a ray of hope. Write that helped me to see the light and find my way back to “me”. What I realized was, yes, my job was providing me money but it wasn’t giving me a feeling of purpose or teaching me any new skills. The job consumed so much of my time that I didn’t have time for my writing, which would’ve provided me with a huge sense of purpose and acquiring new skills.

Out of a desire for sheer survival I set out to retool my life. It was my hope that change would happen when I stepped outside of my comfort zone. For months I searched for, and eventually found, a job that would provide a much better work/life balance. All the while I threw 150% of myself into my writing. As a result my life has been transformed into the exciting adventure it is today. My first traditionally published book (a book on writing for beginning Indie authors) will be released on October 14th, I’m now getting published in literary journals on a regular basis, and the sequel to my first novel should be complete by time the snows melt next spring!

I’ve heard the stories, I know there are so many other indie authors going through similar struggles or worse. What I learned through my experience is the only way out is to regain your balance. To achieve that balance we need to get three things from our careers: money; the opportunity to learn new things; and a true sense of purpose. It’s every writer’s wish that their words provide them with all three of these things. I’m so thankful to have found my way back and am grateful for all of those who have stuck by my side throughout my journey. I think I’m a better writer and a better human being because of it. I guess even in the bad there can be some good.

With Gratitude,

~Eric Vance Walton~