Just Another Day

Darren was a bachelor, he would claim by choice, and he was also very particular. His life was lived like a sacred ritual, trying his best to make sure that each day was the same as the last. He woke each weekday morning at 5:20am sharp, showered, and shaved his salt and pepper shadow with a vintage chrome safety razor. He then brewed an extra strong cup of coffee and prepared breakfast which consisted of steel cut oatmeal with a quarter cup of blueberries and half a pat of grass fed butter, never more.

Although Darren was what most people would consider content he had always felt like his life was missing something indescribable. It was as though his soul was a jigsaw puzzle that was almost complete, the few missing pieces were where his heart was but he had no idea of where to find them.

Just before leaving for the office Darren always watered his bonsai tree, a ficus of the variety sold at Walmart, with one half cup of spring water, perfectly measured. For the last ten years Darren had cared for the bonsai like it was his first born. He even gave it a name, he called it Moe because the shape of the tree’s foliage reminded him of the mop top hairstyle of the lead stooge of the same name. His boss had given him Moe as a gift for his fifth anniversary with the accounting agency.

The first night Darren brought the bonsai home to his apartment he had the distinct impression that, in some inexplicable way, Moe’s well-being would forever connected to the security of this job. He believed with all of his being that as long as he kept the bonsai healthy he would never need to worry about the security of his job at the agency. In Darren’s mind his theory was substantiated the following year. He had overslept by only few minutes and was running late, as a result he had forgotten to water Moe. This couldn’t have happened on a worse day, it was the day of his annual performance review at the agency and his absentmindedness cost him dearly, that year he received a measly ten cent raise.

Each Saturday morning Darren allowed himself the luxury of one extra hour of sleep, he felt that any more would be wasting the day away. Upon waking his Saturday ritual was almost identical to the previous five mornings except for one: instead of taking the northbound train to the office he crossed to the other side of the station and boarded the southbound train to the Snelling Avenue stop. Just across the street from the Snelling station stood Wimbley’s Books and the hand painted sign out front, in bold red letters read, “Rare and Out of Print Books.”

Darren spent nearly every Saturday weeding through the stacks of books, intoxicated by the mustiness of antiquity. Wimbley’s was the one of the few places on Earth where he felt like he fit in. Sometimes he would pack a sandwich and a piece of fruit in his messenger bag for sustenance enough to spend the entire day there.

From the moment he got off the train he felt as though a magnet was pulling him towards the front door of Wimbley’s shop. His strides were a little more hurried than usual as he crossed the busy street. Sam, one of Mr. Wimbley’s clerks, had left Darren a cheery voice mail on Tuesday morning with the news that his book had arrived. It took all of his restraint not to continue riding right on past his normal stop that night after work to pick up the treasure. Darren worried over the matter for the rest of his workday that Tuesday but was worried that any deviation in his routine might throw off his luck for the rest of the week.

Darren turned the doorknob and stepped inside Wimbley’s shop and as he did the tarnished brass bell that hung above the door chimed alerting the staff he had arrived.

“It’s Darren, nine o’clock exactly…punctual as always. I have no idea how you waited four days to pick this up, you have more patience than me,” Mr. Wimbley said peering over top of his wire rimmed glasses, eyes squinting as he smiled.

“It wasn’t easy, Sir! I was just so busy,” Darren answered as he blew into his hands and quickly rubbed them together.

The treasure that Mr. Wimbley spoke of was a copy of a fifteenth century Irish illuminated manuscript obtained from an extensive book collection in Dubai. There were only three known copies of this ancient manuscript created by a lone Irish monk.

Legend has it that the monk, whose name had since been lost to history, lived in a two room stone house that stood alone amongst the craggy cliffs of the Irish seashore. The monk had befriended the two Gaelic tribes in the region he was put in charge of converting to Christianity by the Vatican. After living among the native people for only a few months the monk went rogue and adopted the pagan people’s dress and their way of life.

The monk was so taken by the power of these people’s spiritual beliefs he felt it his duty to meticulously transcribe the Gallic druids’ oral tradition word for word. Each page of the book was handwritten in flowing calligraphy; although it was officially untitled, the book was referred to in collector’s circles as The Gaelic Book of Wisdom. The book contained three hundred and sixty-five passages, one for each day of the year. The monk then made two additional copies of the book, he kept one for himself and the remaining two were given to the chieftain of each of the two tribes. When the word got out that the monk had been turned by pagans and failed in his missionary work, assassins were dispatched by the Pope himself to put a swift end to the monk’s shenanigans before a legend was born.

The Gaelic Book of Wisdom is now considered one of the grails of bibliophiles. A person had be in the inner circle to even know about, let alone, get a chance at owning something as special as this. Darren’s ticket into this rarified world was Mr. Wimbley and his admission was earned slowly over decades of patronizing his bookstore and thousands of dollars changing hands.

One of Wimbley’s long time clerks, Samantha Fletcher or Fletch as she was called by the regulars, came from behind the counter and handed Darren a pair of white gloves, “I know you’re a virgin,” her face turned a bright pink, “umm…I mean, uh when it comes to owning rare books.”

Fletch took a deep breath and regained her composure, “You’ll want to wear these gloves whenever you handle it. Otherwise the oil from your skin will discolor the pages. Always remember, this book is an irreplaceable artifact. It’s so easy to forget in today’s world of disposable things how fragile and valuable something like this is.”

Fletch was attractive in a waspy conservative sort of way. Her hazel eyes were studious and she wore her brown hair short in a fashionable bob cut. She was almost always stealing glances across the shop at Darren on Saturdays and he would occasionally sneak a look at her too.

Darren had the distinct impression that there was something meant for him in this manuscript and that it would somehow help him to feel whole again. He was hardly a man of means but he was so sure of the importance of this purchase he took out a loan against his 401k to buy it. The incredible details that Fletch had shared with him over successive Saturdays put to rest any reservations he might have had.

Fletch lightly placed her hand on Darren’s shoulder and glanced from side to side to make sure no one else was within earshot, “The auctioneer we bought this from said the previous owner of the book bought it nearly a decade ago a flea market in Paris and found an old letter written on parchment between its pages. The letter told of how the book had a way of finding the person who needed it most and shared stories of how past owner’s lives were magically transformed for the better after acquiring the book…” Fletch trailed off as the brass bell rang and a few new customers noisily filed through the door. There was a look in her eyes that told him there was much more she wanted to say.

“Well, I could really use some magic in my life,” Darren laughed nervously.

Mr. Wimbley wrapped the book carefully in brown paper and tied it off tightly with twine. Darren eagerly handed him a cashier’s check for ten thousand dollars. Mr. Wimbley removed his white gloves and held the check up and studied it in the light. He then paused, slowly twisting the end of this handlebar mustache.

The pause lasted a bit too long for Darren’s liking. He feared Wimbley was having second thoughts about the transaction. Wimbley then shot Darren a look of concern, flicked the check noisily with his finger and said, “Darren, you’re now among the ranks of a precious few. Do you promise to take good care of this book?”

Darren exhaled more deeply than he ever did in his life, he knew now he had crossed all of the hurdles.

“I do, “ Darren said.

As he exited the shop Darren cradled the book against chest as if it was a newborn baby. He decided he wouldn’t take off the wrapper until he was home but could swear that he felt the power in it as he held the book close.

He could remember nothing of the train ride home, all he could think about was unwrapping his treasure. He quickly unlocked the door of his apartment, slid on the white gloves Fletch had given him, then carefully cut the twine with his Swiss army knife. Darren held his breath as he slowly peeled back the brown paper revealing the book’s cover, it was an emerald green leather and was in remarkably good condition for its age, only slightly faded.

As Darren cracked open the book he was in awe of the richness of color on the pages and elegant flourishes of the calligraphy. The scent was a combination of old paper, leather, and the sea. He started to read and from the first few words Darren felt wisdom and vitality pour over him. Immediately he got the distinct impression that little by little the puzzle of his life was being completed and this book contained all there was for him to learn.

A few days passed and he read from the book religiously. Each day he arose an extra fifteen minutes early to allow himself time to mindfully absorb each new passage. Almost immediately he began to notice a great change in his life: men treated him with more respect; women began to notice him; and the day’s events seemed to suddenly flow effortlessly in his favor.

On Wednesday of the following week Darren’s phone buzzed as he was grocery shopping, he glanced at it and decided to pick up the call when he noticed, “Wimbley’s Books” flash across the screen.

“Hello,” Darren said sheepishly.

“It’s me, Fletch,” she paused, “I don’t know how to tell you this but I just couldn’t go through with it any longer.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Darren said dumbfounded as he continued bagging his pink lady apples.

“There’s something I need to tell you.” Darren could hear Fletch breathing heavily on the other side of the line.

“Sure, what is it?”

“I made it all up about the book,” she said as she started to sniffle. The sniffles then turned into sobs.

Darren tied off the plastic bag and dropped the apples into his cart, “Made it all up? I guess I’m still not sure what you mean.”

Fletch continued nervously, “I mean the book is old and super rare and it was written by an Irish monk but I concocted the whole part about the magical aspect of the book, there was no letter. There’s no magic in it either, Darren. Believe me, I had good intentions, all I wanted was to see you happy and get to get to know you a little better. I thought I might even have a chance to go out with you or something. Please forgive me.”

Darren’s face took on a look of bewilderment as he walked away from his grocery cart. For a moment Darren let his emotions get the better of him and completely forgot where he was.

“You’re lying. I feel the magic in it, I feel the change in me and nothing you tell me can convince me otherwise!” he yelled, now pacing back and forth in the produce aisle.

“Oh I get it, you probably just want the book for yourself, don’t you Fletch? This conversation is done!” Darren said as he forcibly tapped the end call button and shoved the phone into the pocket of his trench coat.

Oh my, after all these years now I have to find myself a new bookstore Darren thought to himself as he took a deep, controlled breath and continued shopping as though it was just another day.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

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Just Before The Dawn

I’ve been in this business longer than I care to think about. If I think too much about how many years of my life I’ve been pursuing the goal of becoming a full-time writer I sometimes get depressed. Up until just a couple of years ago I didn’t even have a real plan, I was only a dreamer and the dream didn’t have teeth. It’s good to dream but that’s only one element of what it takes to get you there. Recently just such a moment of depression descended on me. My sales had hit a plateau; there were no new opportunities to speak of. It only lasted a few hours but it was a gut wrenching feeling that this was as big as my dream would ever become. I feared my fifteen minutes were over.

Then I remembered that I’d felt this a few times before and usually when I did a breakthrough was on the other side of that dark night. What I’ve found is the closer I get to achieving that next burst of exponential growth in my writing career the more seems to be working against me. I’ve learned from talking to others who are trying to achieve a dream similar to mine that this experience isn’t unique.

The challenges can crop up from a variety of places…the news, envious people, and, yes, even my own mind. All these challenges need to do to be successful in derailing you is to plant that seed of doubt and it will grow into a dream killing monster. But, you know what? None of that matters once your mind is made up and my mind was made up a couple of years ago. I am a writer. I will do this for a living while traveling the world with my wife, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures.

The most effective way out and on to the next plateau begins with deciding to just focus solely on what you have control over. I know I have control over my mind. Most often I’ve learned getting out of this kind of slump requires a simple shift in mindset. Think about it, anything can seem difficult or even impossible if you’ve made your mind up that it is.

The secret is to make up your mind that your goal is attainable, not just attainable but easy to achieve. This isn’t fooling yourself, well maybe a little, but this Jedi-like mind trick fills you with such confidence and positive energy that I believe you attract opportunities and people that can help. The truth is most of us can’t do this alone and that’s okay. Build a team of helpers who are geniuses in their particular field (marketing, editing, etc.) You will be simply unstoppable with an army of experts behind you.

Whenever find yourself in a funk such as the one I just described ask yourself these three things:

1. What do I really want?

2. Why don’t I already have what I want?

3. What do I need to do to get what I want?

To answer these questions as honestly as you possibly can gives your dream teeth. In my case, my most limiting factor is always inside my own head. The mind is quite good at self-sabotage by peppering your inner dialogue with negative statements like, “This is going to be a real challenge” as well as countless other statements that begin with those two dreaded words, “I can’t…”. Negativity is pure poison and will keep you lost in delusion.

The truth is you CAN do this and if you want it badly enough YOU WILL. The other option is to find yourself right where you are in ten years from now doing the same things in the same way. Stay with me and we’ll build our dreams together. Create a strategy. When you make it through to your next day’s dawn I’ll be there to greet you. Maybe we can have a beer or a nice glass of cabernet at some quaint Parisian café and swap stories.

In just a few short days from ground zero I have renewed hope. I also have a few new and exciting irons in the fire. I can tell you from experience that what I speak of works and this sunrise, it’s such a beautiful thing.

I wish you the very best,

~Eric Vance Walton~

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, they seem half-hearted. Resolutions can be charming and fun but really amount to only inspirational buckshot launched into the air, willy nilly, when the clock strikes midnight. Goals, on the other hand I totally believe in and are all-powerful. Goals are our antidote to the days of our lives slipping through our fingers. Goals are like a highly trained sniper…calm, focused, and purposeful. Goals allow us to accomplish incredible things, really most anything we wish.

I can honestly say that I’ve had few goals that haven’t been achieved if I’ve chased them with real intent. Believe me when I say this…I’m not special, anyone can do this. The true secret to success when pursuing your goals is the quality of your intent. It also helps if you share your goals with as many people as possible. This creates a large body of cheerleaders and mentors that help to hold you accountable and keep you on track.

With that being said, here it goes, following are my goals for 2015:

1. Grow my readership on social media to 10,000 readers (or more) before the end of 2015. I will do this by producing high quality content that entertains as well as adds value to people’s lives. I want to continue to share everything I am learning every step of the way with my readers as I grow my publishing base. Reason being? I receive as much (if not more) in terms of inspiration and knowledge from my readers than I could ever give to them. I want to create a blueprint for others to follow. You can play an integral role in this goal by helping to spread the word about any of my writing you’ve connected with. The tiny (but mighty) SHARE button on Facebook is like gold to the indie author. Sharing of author pages and posts is one of the only effective ways left to scale your audience on social media;

2. Finish the first draft of my second novel, Truth Is Stranger by the end of May with a targeted release by Fall of 2015. I will use the NaNoWriMo template as a model (scaled to my personal schedule), I go into detail about how to do this in my recent book on writing, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author;

3. Monetize my website with Google Adsense to create another revenue stream. I’ve been thinking about this for years but have never gotten around to it. Monetizing is an easy way for creatives to make more money by doing what they love. I don’t care about money. To me money is just a means to an end but this will free up more of my time to create and to achieve goal #4;

4. Travel overseas. I’ve been an aspiring world-traveler since my earliest memory. Other places and cultures have always fascinated me. Wanderlust courses, like a drug, through my veins. Nothing to me enhances your life or provides a greater education than experiencing other cultures. I plan to get some of that education in 2015. I don’t care where but my wife and I will get started. Time waits for no one; and

5. Learn a second language. In the past I’ve dabbled in learning both Mandarin Chinese and French but haven’t pursued mastering these languages with any vigor. In 2015 I will learn to speak French and then we’ll see where it goes from there.

This list might seem lofty but my last few years have taught me that absolutely nothing is unattainable. I’ve seen the following quote in no fewer than a million memes over the past few days but it rings true with me, it reads, “Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book.” I am totally committed to making 2015 a breathtaking adventure. I’d be grateful if you stayed along with me for the ride! Much love, as always.

~Eric Vance Walton~

About The Author

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook Author Page for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author recently charted at #7 in the Amazon Kindle Store and is available on Amazon in print or as an ebook.

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~

Own or gift an original poem of award-winning poet and novelist Eric Vance Walton!

Own or gift an original poem of award-winning poet and novelist Eric Vance Walton!

Own or gift an original work of award-winning poet and novelist Eric Vance Walton. These make great and unique gifts for all occasions. 

Price

One poem for $20 or two poems for $30.  After two poems are purchased each additional poem is $15. (same order only)

Poem prints are mailed in 8 x 12″ format on parchment paper, ready and suitable for framing.