February 22nd, 2007 - Ben Tanzer
I definitely had this narrative for you.
I was going to say something such as, it is not much to say that I had never published a book as of February 22, 2007, but I was less than a month away from my debut novel Lucky Man coming out, March 15, 2007 to be exact.
I had also been writing for around 10 years at that point.
I had two children.
I had a 9-5 job.
I was always overwhelmed, but I was managing.
And all of that is true.
I was also going to say that so many of the things I wanted during the ten years prior to February 22, 2007 started then. And that the 10 years since has been unique, a life filled with small successes and lots of cool shit. Published books. Meeting writers I admire. Speaking opportunities. All of which fit neatly into a narrative I was, and have been, cranking out in my head both before, and during, the conception of this piece.
It's just that, while this is one possible narrative, and while I tell it to myself a lot, it overlooks a lot as well.
It is a narrative about triumph, and I need that, clearly, but it skips the doubt, and the anxiety, so much of the confusion, and depression, that I've tried to untangle by being engaged in this at all.
There is such joy in so much of what I get to do, but when a book falls short of some elusive goal - more sales, more reviews, more everything - there is a malaise I feel that I rarely experience with the other things in my life, and have to battle through it.
I'm also constantly asking myself whether I am living an artistic life, and what that means. Is it some mix of freedom and creation, surfing and tacos, something more punk? Maybe, surely, but can it also be a more normal life of work and bills and health insurance which also includes at least some of the rest of that.
I think so, and I need it to be so, recognizing that it too has to be part of the narrative, and that the normal stuff is also stuff I enjoy.
What then of privilege though, how much being both white and male has been an advantage for me and how I need to balance that with actions that support a diverse array of voices in return?
Am I doing this?
Finally, what we're living in, and through, now, politics of hate and lies, are we supposed to even create art that doesn't mean something during a time like this?
Or is the act of creation enough, at times, subversive in the sheer fuck-youness of the act itself?
I'm not sure how much I thought about any of this ten years ago, I was truly at the start of something. What I do know, is that ten years goes like that, and that the next ten years probably will too, even if I don’t know what it looks like yet.
There won't be children living here, not for the most part, and I won't possibly still be working like I have been.
Or maybe I will. And maybe children will be here too.
I have no idea, but I hope to stay conscious, and engaged, feel things, and understand them, and I will be happy to come back and let you know how any, or all of that, is going, if you'll have me.
Ben Tanzer is the author of the newly released book Be Cool — a memoir (sort of), among others. He also oversees the lifestyle empire This Blog Will Change Your Life (changeyourlifethiswill.com) and frequently speaks on the topics of messaging, framing, social media, blogging, fiction, essay writing, and independent publishing. He can be found online at tanzerben.com.
Ben urges you to learn more about the Anti-Defamation League. Founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all" the ADL is now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency. ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all. Visit adl.org.