I Fell Off The Wagon…again

 


My name is Eric Vance Walton and it’s been two months since I fell off the wagon.  There, I said it, I began to stray from the path that was working and back into an old and self-limiting, pattern of behavior that for the previous fifteen years had gotten me nowhere.  This feels strangely liberating to admit publicly.

It all started innocently enough.  About two months ago I became obsessed with listening to the New Yorker fiction podcasts while on my lunch break from my corporate job. In these podcasts authors who’ve been published in the New Yorker read their favorite short stories of other authors aloud.  This became like a master class for me in writing short fiction and it prompted me to craft a few short stories of my own. I took a break from working on my second novel and spent a good chunk of time getting the short story drafts just right. Then I offered my work to beta-readers for their feedback and when I had received all of their responses I spent even more time polishing these stories.

I then thought it might not hurt my writing career to submit these short stories to the New Yorker, so I did.  After fifteen plus years of being rejected by the traditional publishing world and another five years of heading down the self-publishing path, the New Yorker submission process was a stark reminder of how cold and unwelcoming the world of traditional publishing is to an, “undiscovered” (in their eyes) author. The submission guidelines stated as follows…expect a three month response time and due to the high volume of work submitted we will only respond if your story is accepted.

 

Right out of the gate this felt like a step backwards and like a blow to my self confidence after being in the writing game for two decades but I told myself, “It’s the New Yorker, just imagine how that would look on your writing resume!”

 

Around the same timeframe I also signed up for a writer’s conference in Chicago where I would get the chance to pitch my trilogy of novels to a seasoned literary agent. I was excited, this happened to be the exact conference that Veronica Roth, of the Divergent series fame, was “discovered”.

 

A few weeks after I signed up for the conference events in my life transpired to make attending it very difficult. I began to question my decision, it just didn’t feel right, it wasn’t flowing. I felt like I was once again rattling the gate and begging the gatekeepers to allow me a glimpse of their rarified world. This didn’t jive with the entrepreneurial path I had been walking with my writing for the previous five years, the merits of which were strongly reinforced by James Altucher’s book, Choose Yourself.  I was giving away my power once again and I felt it diminished my strength as both a writer and as a person.

 

The proof was right there in the results, my writing career had grown infinitely larger and more quickly in the five years I was choosing myself than it did in the previous fifteen years of trying to convince the gatekeepers of the literary world that I was worthy.

Well, to make a long story as short as possible, I’m now back on the right path again.  I realize the only people’s opinion that I truly care about are my readers. The traditional publishing path clearly wasn’t meant for me, if it was I would be locked into a multi-book deal with film rights already. I plan on publishing the short stories I wrote for the New Yorker on my own platform and will eventually use them as material for a “funnel book”, a free eBook designed to drive readers towards paid content.  

 

I’ll also use the money that would’ve have been spent on the conference to redesign my website so I can start to build and manage my own mailing list. I attribute the missteps of the past few months to some kind of temporary insanity, or possibly a mid-life crisis…whatever the cause, it feels great to be steering my own ship again, it feels great to choose myself. Brené Brown said, “When you own your story, you get to write the ending.”  Just watch how I wrap this one up.



~Eric Vance Walton~

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TIME TRAVEL 1.0

A few weeks ago I entered a contest sponsored by Garrison Keillor.  It was called, “Dear You” and the theme was to write a poem in the form of a letter to any living person. I wrote a letter to my 20 year old self.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win BUT the act of writing it provided me with some great insights so it wasn’t a total loss.

Writing this letter was so helpful to me I challenge you to try writing a letter to your 20 year old self and see how much you learn from it.  It was such an amazing (and scary) thing to revisit who I was to realize how much I’ve grown and where I’d like to take my life from this point forward.

At the advice of James Altucher I’m also going to write a letter to my 106 year old self and will post it soon.

If you try this exercise and feel comfortable sharing it with us please post it on my page!  

Here’s my entry:

Dear Twenty-year old Eric:

You are much stronger than you think and in the next twenty years the world will test that strength to the fullest. Life isn’t anything remotely as you imagine it to be now, it’s much tougher and more beautiful than you can know. Don’t believe anything you hear in the news, the history books, or from any government. Be gentle with yourself and others. Celebrate each success. Try not to judge. Everybody feels insecure inside, some people are just better at hiding it.  Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Tell the truth, especially to yourself.

One day you will switch roles with your parents. Remember all of those times you made your parents worry?  Well, get ready, karma is coming for you. Enjoy each moment, right now it feels like you’ll live forever but time is incredibly short.  Never put your dreams on hold for anyone, you will resent them for it.  Success exists just outside your comfort zone. Cars are a huge waste of time and money. Spend your money on experiences. 

Pay attention to your pets, they are more intelligent than you think they are and have many lessons to teach you in their short lives. Nothing hurts as much as regret. Watch the sunrise at least once a year.
Don’t worry so much about your credit score. Say yes to as many things that scare you as you can. Carry a Swiss army knife. Buy internet stock in 1997, sell internet stock before March 10, 2000. Mullets aren’t sexy. Some people aren’t meant to be your friends for life and that’s okay. You will write a novel. Have more fun, worry less about sleep. Buy quality stuff that can be repaired, expensive doesn’t always equate to quality. Net worth doesn’t equal self-worth. Travel and don’t be afraid to get lost.  Talk to strangers. You will get wiser. Really listen to people when they speak instead of thinking what you’ll say next. Dance every single chance you get. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. 

Be yourself, always. Do yoga at least three times per week. Don’t eat soy, it’ll give you man boobs. Meditate. Your heart will be broken, you will recover. Watch less television. Butter actually is good for you (I know it sounds crazy!) Learn to trust your instincts. 
Although your forehead will be higher, you will not be completely bald by the time you’re forty. You will meet and marry the love of your life. Beagles are incredibly awesome dogs. Write every single day. Travel. Although you will never have biological children of your own will get to experience some of the joys of fatherhood with your stepson. It’s awesome.

I love you, I really do, but I’m so happy that I’m not you anymore,
(signed) Forty-three year old Eric

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~

Great Reviews for One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author!

I couldn’t be more thrilled by the reception of my new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author! I’ve received so many kind words from those who’ve read it, I appreciate this more than you know.

The book now has SEVEN Amazon reviews with an average of 4.5 stars! If you’ve read the book I’d like to hear what you think and, please, whether you liked it or not please write an Amazon review!

If you haven’t read One Word At A Time yet and would like to Amazon has discounted the paperback (it’s also available as an eBook in the Kindle store).

Thank you!

One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author
One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author