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Interview: Vincent Russell Van Patten talks about his new book ‘Arrows of Youth,’ and the digital age

Author Vincent Russell Van Patten chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his new book “Arrows of Youth: A Young Man’s Inspiring Journey to Find What Lights His Soul on Fire,” and being an author in the digital age.

Vincent Russell Van Patten
Author Vincent Russell Van Patten. Photo Courtesy of Vincent Russell Van Patten.
Author Vincent Russell Van Patten. Photo Courtesy of Vincent Russell Van Patten.

Author Vincent Russell Van Patten chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his new book “Arrows of Youth: A Young Man’s Inspiring Journey to Find What Lights His Soul on Fire,” and being an author in the digital age.

On his inspiration to write the book, he said, “I was inspired to write ‘Arrows of Youth’ because of an insatiable curiosity to know what’s out there. During this unprecedented period of history (the Coronavirus pandemic), I felt, and continue to feel, a need to immerse myself in nature to cultivate peace in my soul.” 

He continued, “We’ve been told to fear the world; early in the pandemic, I had to break through the noise and find my own way. I’m in a period of my life where I can’t get these questions out of my mind: What are we really doing here? What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be happy? What does it mean to be successful?” 

“I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity and the privilege to even ask these questions, which go beyond merely trying to survive. I don’t want to waste the opportunity I’ve been given. This desire to live with no regrets inspired me to take this road trip through California and the Pacific Northwest. The solitary road trip provided an unbelievable setting to think about the person I hope to be and the world I strive to help create,” he elaborated. 

“I don’t know if I’d ever had the courage to begin without the encouragement of my writer’s workshop professor. I felt an ember burning in me that only needed a spark to ignite; he provided that spark,” he said.

“He told me to tell my story, as I see the world now. I feared being inexperienced, too young to write a book. I feared what the world might think. Because of his encouraging words, I went for it. He changed my life forever,” he acknowledged.

“Writing ‘Arrows of Youth’ was absolutely a cathartic process,” he said. “There are so many distinct moments in my childhood that mean something to me and have made me who I am. Without writing them down, perhaps I’d remember them from time to time and they’d put a smile on my face.”

“As I wrote the book, I began to better understand my own familial background and relationships which are so important to me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been known as the quiet one in my family—until now! As life continues, these moments from my childhood become increasingly meaningful. I’m able to consider them with a new perspective and process them in new ways,” he explained. 

“Writing allowed me to explore my past and everything that has brought me to where I am today. It brought me so much joy thinking about these memories, and weaving them into a story about adventure and making sense of our modern world,” he added.

The digital age

On being an author in the digital age, he said, “There has never been a better time to have a dream or take a chance, especially as a writer. I couldn’t have pulled this off in the same way even ten years ago before self-publishing became not only acceptable but respectable.”

“My writing journey began with blogging on Medium.com, where I continue to publish weekly articles. While there was a learning curve to self-publishing, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to take this dream from an idea to a substantial paperback, to now, an audiobook,” he said.

“I’m a huge fan of social media when used for the right reasons,” he said. I love sharing the little moments in my life that fill me with joy or make me think, those moments in the day that usually are only saved for us, like watching a flock of birds sail across the sun, or turning the final page of a wonderful book. Now, we can share these moments and what they mean to us.” 

“I believe we’re all on this incomprehensible journey together, and social media should be a place to come together, not divide. It should be a place to celebrate all of life, and all that makes us human. It should make life fun, and that’s what it does for me. Anything is possible in the digital age. However, with so much noise out there, we must learn to trust ourselves and follow our instincts,” he said.

Advice for young and aspiring authors

For young and aspiring authors, he said, “Just begin. This advice is for anybody who wants to change their life but is afraid. This advice is for me, as I’m just getting started on this adventure as well.” 

“With anything we hope to achieve, there will always be a reason not to begin. But all you have to do is begin. Write that first chapter, and see where it goes. Go out and take some photos. Bake something that dares you to think differently. Don’t think about the final product. Take it day by day and stay diligent. You’ll be amazed by where you end up when you follow your curiosity,” he said.

“Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough,” he said. “There will always be more polishing, more to include, more to perfect. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. As Steve Jobs said: ‘Real artists ship.’ Get it done.” 

“Do it because it makes you happier than anything else,” he expressed. “If writing, or whatever you dream of doing doesn’t bring you inner joy, it will be nearly impossible to stick with in the long-run.” 

“Nobody will tell you to keep going. Nobody will tell you to write; more likely, it will get done before the sun rises or after the sun has set, when you’re writing before or after work. Bet you’re inspired. You’re ignited. You’re doing this for you,” he said.

“Don’t focus on what others might think, what others are doing, and what you aren’t. Write because it’s how you better understand yourself,” he added.

When asked if there were any moments in his career that helped define him, he said, “Like for many people, the Coronavirus woke me up. It made me realize that this life is too precious not to live the lives we were born to live. At the beginning of 2020, I left my last job and started taking writing seriously.”

“Also, I started The Dare to Dream Podcast with one of my best friends, Gregory Benedikt, who also left his job to pave his own way. We have one chance to make this life our own; the idea of laying on my deathbed knowing that I didn’t give this thing everything I have scares me,” he shared.

“Life should be joyful, exhilarating, introspective, and purposeful. There is a way to make our dreams a reality if we have the will to find it,” he said.

Future plans

Regarding his future plans, he said, “My plans for the future absolutely include more writing and books! While writing grounds me, keeps me from going off my rocker, and allows me to digest all of life meaningfully, I know my journey entails more than just writing.”

“More than anything, I long to travel the world and learn about who we are as people. I want to explore and be a force for positive change, no matter how trivial the task. I want to do what lights me up inside and inspire others on every step of the process,” he said.

“If that is through more writing (which it undoubtedly will be), growing The Dare to Dream Podcast, filmmaking, or through an avenue I can’t yet imagine, I’ll be fulfilled. There is travel in store, of that, I am confident,” he added. 

Success

On his definition of the word success, he responded, “‘What does success mean to you’ is essentially the question that fuels everything I’m doing and hope to do. I believe our modern cultures are veering away from the notion of traditional success, especially since the pandemic.”

“Traditional success might mean making money and gaining status symbols, but what do these things do to us inside? Do they make us feel better than others? Do they make us feel adequate like we’re worthwhile in our own skin? I’m honestly grappling with this idea because obviously, I don’t have the answers. Nobody does,” he said.

“At this point in my life, success is raising the bar of who I am on the inside, which raises the bar of the exterior world around me. It’s becoming, day in and day out, the man I know I’m meant to be, one who cares, who loves with his whole heart, and who dares to dream,” he reflected.

“Success is cultivating a sense of peace that can be felt by others,” he said. “It’s being good to people, bringing humans together, and holding myself to a high standard of integrity. Success is living fearlessly and on my own terms. Success is waking up every day with a genuine smile on my face.” 

Van Patten remarked about the book, “What I want the readers to get out of ‘Arrows of Youth’ is a sense of joy for being alive. I want readers to feel inspired to get outside and feel the sun on their skin. I want them to question what we’re really doing here, and if we’re meant for something greater.”

“I hope reading ‘Arrows of Youth’ inspires readers to look at other humans, the planet, and themselves a bit differently. We’re on this journey together; I hope Arrows of Youth helps readers feel this,” he concluded. 

“Arrows of Youth” by Vincent Russell Van Patten earned a glowing review from Digital Journal. It is available on Amazon by clicking here.

For more information on Vincent Russell Van Patten, follow him on Instagram, and check out his official website.

Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 16,000 original articles over the past 15 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a five-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past two years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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