A few Q’s and A’s with Ben Tanzer, prolific Chicago author and all around great guy. This was conducted just before the release of his new book, Lost in Space.
Since keeping away from writing until his early 30‘s, Ben Tanzer has written and published steadily, starting with the novel Lucky Man in 2007 and most recently Lost in Space, his first collection of essays. He is the director of Publicity and Content Strategy for Curbside Splendor, works with the non-profit Prevent Child Abuse America, and somehow still finds time to properly raise his kids. He is an Emmy-award winning Public Service Announcement writer and regularly updates his prolific social media empire, including This Blog Will Change Your Life.
Dustin Pellegrini: With your new book (Lost in Space) coming out now, how have you been going about balancing the book along with your other commitments to Curbside, Prevent Child Abuse America, and your family?
Ben Tanzer: It’s an endless balancing act. Which is a terribly cliche answer. But I really look to put work and family first, and the writing, reading, and Curbside get wrapped around those activities. So, local readings are not that big a deal, they’re mostly at night, my wife and I both go out separately and together, which is also good for life balance, and readings out of town fall into two categories, though really just one with a caveat. I need to travel for work, and will look to schedule readings that match-up with those dates. In that case I am already out of the house. Or I will only do a reading that allows for something family focused as well. Going to AWP has been a recent exception to that, but in going there I forgo other things I might do.
DP: Do you ever consider stepping back from anything and focusing more on your writing or more on your family?
BT: I’m not sure my family wants more of me, but that might be a separate interview. Stepping back to write more sounds terrific, or frankly, just reducing the stress of getting it in every day, but I haven’t been able to figure that out entirely. I already work at home two days a week, long days, which allow for increased time with the family, but to write more would really involve less day job, and that doesn’t seem practical to me right now, not with small children, health insurance, braces and on and on. That said, my response may also be indicative of my inability to think more creatively about this, and my need for structure and steady paycheck, which on the one hand seems normal, or typical, though I meet people all the time who are not as compulsive about these things as I am, which I assume reflects poorly on my choices.