Life Is Short: Article/Interview

By Christina Izzo/The Times of Trenton on April 18, 2013 at 7:30 AM, updated April 18, 2013 at 7:32 AM

From stay-at-home dad to published author and all the laundry in between

ROBBINSVILLE — Scott Benner said he had his first introduction to writing books when he was a child in school.

“We used to write them and bind them and then they would go on a library cart and go from class to class,” he said. “That’s the part I really liked — that the book was somewhere else and someone else was reading it.”

Benner, who grew up in Bucks County, continued writing through his teens and early 20s, trying his hand at writing movie scripts and fiction, but he said he found that he was writing stories that were already written.

“I felt that I didn’t have anything to say,” he said. “I felt that if I kept saying stuff that somebody else had already said, either it isn’t valuable or I’m not at a point yet where I should be doing this.”

But after being a stay-at-home dad for 12 years, Benner said he found something to say.

The now Robbinsville resident’s first book, “Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal,” was released earlier this month by Spry Publishing. It is about Benner’s time as a stay-at-home dad and what he’s learned along the way.

Benner said he never planned to be a stay-at-home dad, but when his wife became pregnant with their first child, Cole, it became clear that someone should stay home to raise their child. “We started looking around at daycare centers and I only got to the first one and I came home and I said to my wife, ‘I don’t think we should do this, one of us should stay home,’” Benner said.

And while traditionally it’s the wife who stays home to raise the kids, Benner said, his wife’s promising career in pharmacuticals left him to be the more ideal choice.

But Benner said he didn’t mind at all.

“I’ve always loved kids,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could be a great stay-at-home dad, this’ll be fantastic.’”

Benner said he quit his job as a graphic designer at a credit union a few months before Cole was born, learned how to change diapers and started his new job as a full-time, stay-at-home dad in early 2000.

Soon he and his wife started talking about having another child, but they decided to wait until Cole was a little bit older.

“The stay-at-home dad thing was going well and I felt that I was good at it in the beginning,” he said. “But I have to admit, Cole was such an easy child after the first few months, there were times that I thought, ‘Am I good at this? Or is he just a really easy kid to take care of and let’s not find out that I’m not good at this by adding another baby to this situation.’”

Five years after Cole was born, Benner said his daughter, Arden, was born.

But in 2006, when Arden was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“I got kind of overwhelmed,” he said. “I struggled for a while and I felt cloudy all the time.”

Knowing that he couldn’t cure his daughter of diabetes, Benner said he searched for ways that he could be helpful to others grappling with the disease.

In 2007, Benner started writing the blog Arden’s Day to help people understand 

diabetes, he said.

But only a month after Benner started writing, he realized it did more than help people understand diabetes, it helped support people going through similar situations, he said.

“It wasn’t the writing that got me hooked to the blog,” Benner said. “It was literally the idea that it was helping other people. It helps me that it helps them.”

Benner said his blog also helped improve his writing — and it led to his first book deal.

“Another blogger got a book deal and she asked me to write a sidebar for her book,” 

Benner said. “A few months later, through like insane happenstance, I found myself on the phone with her publisher because I hadn’t sent in some information I was supposed to send in.”

“I just remember thinking, ‘When am I ever going to be on the phone with a book publisher again? This is it, man. Go!’” he said.

When the publisher got done explaining to Benner how one gets a book deal, he said he just blurted out his idea.

Benner said the publisher pitched the idea and the next week, he received a call asking for a sample table of contents.

“My wife asked me if I could write a book,” he said. “I told her, ‘I have no idea.’”

But Benner said the whole process came easily to him and he finished writing the book in six months.

“It’s the book I’ve been thinking about for a decade,” he said.

And while Benner said he spends most of his time wiping things off, vacuuming or doing laundry, he said that he sees his stay-at-home duties as part of giving his kids the best launch in life.

“There is no better job,” he said. “I do things that no one sees until they’re not done for them anymore. I don’t think of it as trivial. Someone’s got to be there to remind the kids to take their vitamins and brush their teeth.”

Benner will be at the Hamilton Barnes & Noble at the Hamilton Marketplace today from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to sign books.

For more information about Scott Benner, his book and his blog, visit


Life Is Short: Amazon

An email arrived in my inbox, it was from a guy I worked with at the job I had 13 years ago, back before I became a stay-at-home dad. He was writing to tell me that he pre-ordered my book and wished me success with my writing. His note was wonderful and it opened my eyes to an aspect of the process that I didn't give much thought to, people were going to buy my book and read it. Obviously, that is the hope, but I just imagined that my mom would buy a copy, maybe my brothers. It was difficult to imagine any success beyond that.

It felt strange when I read his email. My friend went online, clicked on a few buttons and just like that, bought a book that I wrote. Everything about that thought freaked me out. I felt very responsible all of the sudden because he spent his money on something that I created. I was very overwhelmed by his words, they warmed my heart.

Since that day others have ordered, I get really nice tweets, FaceBook messages and other notes from a lot of you saying how excited you are for the book to arrive. The book even charted in the US and Canada as a pre-order a number of times! It's a great feeling that I wish I could share with each of you.  You know what? Maybe I can try...

I didn't exactly grow up in a hot bed of creativity. Back then I didn't feel comfortable sharing my desire to write with most of the people in my life. Only ever speaking of my dream with my friend Mike. Today as I sit here writing to you, I find myself wondering what my parents would have said if I announced that I wanted to be a writer. I think that idea would have been so far outside of the norm that they wouldn't have known what to say. When I was sixteen I began working in my Uncle's sheet metal shop, I was okay at performing the work but each day reminded me that I wasn't where I belonged. The teenage me didn't hold out much hope that he would find any success outside of that factory. I wasn't hopeless but it was very difficult to be hopeful. 

A lot has happened since then...

I began writing on this blog almost six years ago and that act saved me when I was lost. Then my salvation unexpectedly become my passion. I finally found a place where I "belonged" and I was writing. If you would have asked me two years ago, I would have told you that all of this couldn't get better - but then it did. 

So when you reach out to tell me that you can't wait for my book, it feels like a dream coming true - each time. I'm instantly reminded that I was once a a young man cutting steel who would drift away in his head and envision himself sitting at a keyboard, but he could never imagine a path to getting there.

You guys have saved me twice so far, once from the isolation of type I parenting and again from the disappointment of a dream not realized. I can only hope that I've helped you somehow, because I owe you all a serious debt. Thank you.


Life Is Short: Intent meets Doubt

I've painted more than my fair share of rooms in my life and by all accounts, I've done a very good job. The trim is always straight and the walls are evenly covered. I don't skimp on primer and I have decent eye for what colors work where. Even with all of my experience, I'd be nervous to walk outside with a ladder and paint the exterior of my home. A job like that seems too big for me to tackle and I wouldn't want to take on such a monumental challenge unless I was sure that I could deliver a great result.

That's what sitting down to write Life Is Short felt like. I had writing experience even though it wasn't in the form of book writing. I had the determination and I was confident that my story was a fresh look at an interesting, emerging social issue. As I wrote I felt good, the words felt good coming out and the text was taking the direction that I'd imagined. There were benchmarks along the way, my publisher looked at that the first 15,000 words and provided feedback. She made me feel like I was on the right track, her support gave me the confidence to believe in the direction I chose for my first book. I was sure that my intent for the book was materializing on the page, I couldn't ask for more.

When the day came that my manuscript was due, I handed it in with a lightness of heart. The book really did come out the way that I envisioned. I was more than pleased with what I had written but I struggled to hold on to that positive feeling in the days after I submitted the file.

Soon my stress level was through the roof. What if they didn't like it? What if my writing doesn't measure up? Doubt rushed in and clouded my every waking moment. I began to experience a stiff neck and it's grip intensified each hour that I didn't hear back. I couldn't think about anything other then my manuscript. A week later I stopped wishing for someone to tell me that they liked the book, opting to hope for any response, good or bad. I needed relief and decided that it would be better to hear that people hated my book rather than hear nothing at all. I was quickly lost in the mindset of a sixteen year old boy who had just passed a note to a girl he liked. I wasn't able to wait patiently for her reply. Did I make a mistake trying to take on such a big project? Was my house now the laughing stock of the town? I should have stuck to painting rooms.

It is incredibly difficult to put yourself out into the world in a way that invites critique. In this case I wasn't prepared for how crippling it would feel to lay my heart out for all to see. I put so much of myself into my book, told so many deeply personal stories. I needed someone to either circle yes on the note that I passed or send it back so we could get the pointing and laughing over with.

I did not expect to feel so exposed by the process.

Some early reviews have been good and I've received a few wonderful personal messages from folks that are reading advance copies. Responses have been very positive and heart-warming... I am happy to report that I can once again turn my head completely to the left.

I expect that there will be people that won't enjoy my book and that some of them may well take to the Internet to voice their feelings, but I'm okay with that possibility now. This process has given me the confidence to say, and mean, "I wrote a book that I am proud of, some will love it, some will like it, a few may not - but I know it is good. Felt good coming out and I should have trusted that feeling".

Looking back I see that I couldn't help the doubt, but it didn't emanate from insecurity the way that I initially imagined. My fear was rooted in a desire to please the reader, to please you. I can see now that I care deeply if you enjoy the experience when you read. My fondest desire is for you to leave the text richer then when you arrived... nothing else matters. Today I'm confident that can happen. I'm no longer nervous, that terrible feeling has been replaced by excited anticipation. Look for my next entry, Life Is Short: Amazon sometime soon.

Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal will be in stores on April 2nd but you can Pre-Order today.

Final Version of my Book Cover Revealed!

There isn't too much to say other then I am genuinely happy to be able to share the final version of the cover to my new book Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal here on Arden's Day before it appears anywhere else.

The cover will begin to populate on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other seller's websites in the coming days and weeks along with new and specific page length information, chapter titles and much more. You can Pre-Order a paperback copy today, eBook readers will have to wait until closer to the release date on April 2nd.

I've added a new page to Arden's Day that contains all of the information pertaining to the book. You can reach it by clicking on the cover in the sidebar, this link or at the heavy-handed and slightly embarrassing, 'Buy My Book' tab in the Arden's Day navigation bar.

Thank you all so much for taking this crazy ride with me, look for a new blog piece about type I diabetes coming tomorrow morning on Arden's Day titled, 'Everyone Poops'... I know, what could that be about?

Life Is Short: Writing

There are in excess of 70,000 images in my iPhoto library. I've taken so many pictures over the years for two reasons. I enjoy photography, and the thought of Kelly and I looking at those pictures later in life makes me smile. Here in present day, I don't look at them all that often because we are too busy making new memories. I love that they are waiting for us and part of me is excited to grow old so that we can spend our days watching the images that made up our life as they glide by on a screen. I hope that we all get that chance, a victory lap of sorts. Raising children is difficult and I imagine that getting to look back and remember the journey so vividly after we have the benefit of knowing how everything worked out, is going to be the icing on our life's cake.

But that's a long way off... opportunities like that, they come at the end.

That's why getting to write my book was such a blessing. Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal is a difficult book to explain, when you read it you'll be left with a feeling, one that I think you'll be very happy that you experienced. However I worry some times that you might not be able to quantify the book after you've put it down, at least not in standard terms. Some days I can't decide if that possibility is a concern or a triumph. Is it a memoir, yes but no. Is it a parenting book, yes but no. Is it an uplifting read, definitely, but it doesn't belong on the inspiration shelf. Is the book about diabetes? In some ways it is completely, but then not really. Did I write a book that's nothing more than stories from my life as a stay-at-home dad? No, they are so much more than that.


Far and away the most intense feeling that Lynne's phone call left me with was one of privilege. Perhaps my book will sell five copies, and maybe it will sell fifty-thousand, who knows. The one thing I do know is that it will be published, bear my name and forever be associated with me. If I were to step off of a cliff tomorrow, my book will stand as the culmination of what the last forty-one years has taught me. I took that responsibility very seriously. Is the book just a bunch of stories, no. Could it have been, certainly it could have. I've had some intensely funny and interesting experiences in my life and I could have easily told them in a way that you would have enjoyed, but then they would have just been stories. I wanted to put my name on a book that was more then just entertainment. I wanted to leave a record that my children could proudly read as adults. A book that you would enjoy, respond to and perhaps retain.

I wanted my book to be more then just a a way to pass a few hours.

So I did something that I wish for all of you. I spent time thinking about my life. Not just a moment of reflection, not a day, but months of days. I was able to look back through my mental photographs and locate the moments that impacted me, the process allowed me to retrace my steps and see, from a new perspective, where the knowledge that I've accumulated originated. I got to relive my life through my now more mature eyes. That time was a gift. This opportunity was a treasure, one that I worked hard to share with you. I hope that I did that, I guess we'll all know shortly if I succeeded.

Is the book funny, yes! Will it make you cry, oh yea. Will you think, feel, love? Will my moments cause you to look back at yours thoughtfully, I think so. I'm most proud that Life Is Short brings it's readers to these emotions without preaching, I desperately didn't want to be that person and I'm confident that I succeeded.

I don't want you to think Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal is some bore fest from an overly earnest guy. Because oh no it is not, these are entertaining stories full of truth and real life. It looks at parenting, marriage, sex, love, loss, renewal and the moments when all of those things begin to make sense.

Life Is Short is a love letter to the women that so thoughtfully do what I do everyday, a reality check for those who don't see that job for what it really is and my addition to the world of books that I'm getting very excited for you to be able to read it.

The next entry in this series is tentatively titled Life Is Short: Intent Meets Doubt.

Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal has its own FaceBook page, you can visit it at this link.

Life Is Short: Where do I Sign

It was the Monday after Lynne's pitch meeting and I was folding laundry when my phone rang. This would seem like foreshadowing if I wasn't practically always doing the laundry. I was standing in Arden's room, putting her clothes onto hangers when I heard Lynne's voice come through the phone. I have to admit that I knew right away that her call must be good news. I mean, who would call with bad news that early in the week?

My table of contents and outline made a good impression at the pitch meeting and I was going to be offered a contract to complete a book based on my idea. Lynne's words took my breath away. I almost immediately pictured a book spine with my name on it. The little boy inside of me, the one that always wanted to write, he was smiling! I didn't know that I could still feel so childlike at my age.

We spoke about the reality of delivering a manuscript and when Lynne asked me if I could do it, I said "yes" immediately, but I had no idea to be honest. The most I write on Arden's Day is seven hundred, maybe a thousand words at a time. I had conscientiously taught myself to be brief for blogging (I know that I do go on longer sometimes) and I wasn't 100% sure that I could write in a longer form in a meaningful way but I was going to find out. A number of days later I was reading my first book contract, it's no windfall mind you, but I was inching closer to becoming a published author and it felt astonishing freeing and terrifyingly constraining all at once.

I'd tell you more about what Lynne said on that call but who knows, I can't remember one word that she spoke after the reality sunk in... I was going to write a book. My brain was throwing a party and dancing with a lamp-shade on it's head. When the music stopped I pulled myself together and called my wife. I told Kelly that Lynne asked me if I could delivery a manuscript on time, Kelly replied, "can you?".

"Yes, I think I can..."

I spent a couple of weeks finding out the true answer to that question. I wrote at much greater lengths to find my voice in long-form. I wouldn't call what I wrote an outline, that wouldn't be fair to outlines. It was perhaps more like a stream of conciseness about what I thought the book was. Some of the sentences in that exercise exist now in the book, some times word for word and others in tone or theme. Mostly, I just needed to prove to myself that I could tell my story in a way that hopefully would be meaningful and well received. 

I was nervous during that process for reasons that had little to do with writing a book. First off, this was a life-long dream. I couldn't imagine what I'd feel like if crafting a book was something that I couldn't do. What if I had no ability to accomplish the thing that I spent two decades believing that I was meant to do. What if it sucked? What if I like it and no one else responds to it? What if I let my wife down? I remember vividly being in my early twenties and telling my then girlfriend that I wanted to be a writer. Now here I am almost twenty years later and I was getting the chance to make good on my wish. I didn't want to let Kelly down, I didn't want to let myself down and I really wanted my kids to see that wishes can come true. Most of all, I wanted to write a book that impacted someone. I wanted to make a difference. So I wrote and wrote and didn't stop until I loved my voice at three thousand words the way that I do at seven hundred. When I found my legs, I typed out the first topic from my table of contents onto a blank page and began to write you a book.

I didn't have the courage to read those first words for a few days. When I did finally find the nerve, I never looked back.

In my next entry Life is Short: Writing I want to tell you about the catharsis that accompanied me as I wrote. It was a once in a lifetime feeling that I wish for everyone and a gift that I won't ever forget.

Life Is Short: Leighann Wrote a Book

It all begins with Leighann Calentine writing a book...

... because her opportunity created other opportunities. Leighann's book was to have a handful of sidebars written by some DOC members. Luckily for me I had just written a piece for her blog that she wanted to include in the book. She asked, I gleefully accepted, and months later her book was about to be published.

I never submitted my bio to her publisher and so one day they contacted me for a few lines about myself to include with my sidebar. That's when I met Lynne. I'm chatty and so if you get on the phone with me, I chat. I ask questions, tell stories, don't judge... it's sometimes lonely being a Stay-At-Home Dad. Lynne and I got on right away and she seemed to be enjoying our talk. As she got more comfortable, I got more comfortable, and then I asked how a person gets the opportunity to write a book. She told me about the numerous ways that it could happen and then expressed that she enjoyed what I had written for Leighann and said, "if you ever have an idea you should tell it to me".

Well you don't say that to a man who has wanted to write a book since he was five and not expect to get pitched a book on the spot.

I began speaking in the pause Lynne created at the end of her statement and I don't think I stopped until I fully expressed my idea for a book about being a Stay-At-Home Dad. When I finished speaking I was a bit embarrassed. She hadn't asked me to pitch a book, hell I'm not even sure she wasn't just being polite when she said, "If you ever have an idea...". I spent a long few seconds imagining that I may have just burnt this bridge but I felt good that I took my shot. That book idea had been in my head forever and it was ready to be let out.

My pitch must have been pretty good becasue that phone call ended with the promise that my idea would be presented at Lynne's next pitch meeting. I couldn't believe it, I found the notion that a publisher was going to sit in a meeting and pitch my concept almost otherworldly. Her promise marks the first time this year that I have been lucky enough to say and mean, "I never hoped or expected for this to happen to me". I was grateful and excited to hear back.

I tried not to wonder that next weekend if the Friday meeting really included my idea or if anyone liked it if it did. Monday morning I woke up thinking about that meeting, wondering, but I quick put it out of my mind and began my day. No one was calling, I'm just a guy that blogs about type I diabetes, sure I have stories and yes, I think I tell them well, but what are the odds? Pipedream at best.

But then later that day Lynne called, holy crap she really called! My pitch was a hit at the meeting. "How much time would I need to submit a sample table of contents" for review? I was shocked, surprised, excited, stunned, my head was spinning. I couldn't think of my name let alone how long I'd need to write a TOC. When Lynne hung up the phone I danced around my bedroom in a way that I am quite sure was neither attractive nor dignified.

I only recently had the courage to tell Lynne this next part. I sat down two days later and wrote my table of contents in ten minutes. I already knew the story that I wanted to tell, all I had to do was give each chapter a direction. The next day I went back to my list and added a three sentence description to each. I was describing to myself what I wanted each chapter to be about. I was drawing a map that I could follow when I wrote. I read and re-read that TOC a million times before I sent it off. This was it, this was my one opportunity. No one was ever going to make me this offer again. I believed that I was benefiting greatly from being at the right place at the right time. There was no way the universe was going to line up like this for me twice. I was going to take my best shot, grab on to this moment and not let go until I had no more to give to it.

I put that effort into my pitch, my TOC and if someone at Spry Publishing actually wanted to take a flyer on me, I was going to pour every ounce of who I was and what I had to offer into writing the best book that I could.

In the next installment Life Is Short: Where do I Sign you'll find out if they said yes to myTOC (spoilers, they do), I'll talk about my nerves and how I overcame my self doubt so I could began writing.

Life Is Short: Book Blog

The following is the post that I wrote to introduce the readers of Arden's Day to this book blog:. It appeared originally on Arden's Day, November 28, 2012.

I didn't have any intentions back in 2007 when I first published my thoughts online, no great plan, no goals, I just wanted someone to hear me and understand - I was lost, sucked into a vast confusion by Arden's diagnosis. I didn't know what I was doing with this blog until I received the first piece of email from a reader. It was from a mother who thanked me for sharing, then she offered me support. That email gave this site a purpose, it gave me a purpose. I wanted others to feel the relief that her kind connection gave to me. 

I feel a very real responsibility when I share my type I diabetes experiences with you and I sincerely hope that feeling shines through when I do. I've never blogged about anything other then diabetes until now.

I'll be blogging periodically about what it was like to write my book. I hope that you'll find the story interesting and even motivating. It's a story of luck, hard work, a little right place/right time and a whole lot of "look what we can all do together". I'll be titling these posts Life Is Short: Then the blog title so that you can easily tell these posts from the ones about type I. I want you to have the clear choice to either read or skip them as you see fit. I thought very long and hard about whether I should speak about the book here and if I did, how much was too much. I desperately don't want it's existence to take from or sully what I've built. Does that make sense? This blog has always been and will forever remain one of my proudest accomplishments. The feeling that I get from sharing here with all of you far exceeds my wildest dreams and I wouldn't trade your respect for anything. I don't need or want anything more then for 'Arden's Day' to help in some small way. I'm quite sure that most if not all of you know that, but I wanted to say it up front. Okay...

None of that means that I am not excited about my book, I'm crazy excited! I've been writing since I was a child and having a book published is so much more then I hoped for. When I think about what being published means to me... much comes to mind. I'm giddy at the thought of a book spine with my name on it, I have to be honest. Most of all I'm pleased to have the opportunity to keep a promise that I made to my wife a very long time ago. Kelly always believed in my writing and it took me a long time to be passionate enough about a topic to warrant me putting my thoughts down. I never doubted that I could write but I didn't want to write just anything. Nothing in life is certain and this opportunity may only ever come once, I want what I say, what gets bound and bears my name to mean something. I feel things very deeply, watch life intently and I pride myself on seeing humor, love and meaning in places that can often go unnoticed. These things bring me a wonderful peace, one that I'd like very much if others could feel too. I believe that I finally had something to offer that is different and this book is my best and most sincere attempt to tell that story. If I never write another thing, I'll always be proud of the words, sentiments and message that I poured into my book.

'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-At-home Dad' is not unlike 'Arden's Day'. It's the stories that struck at me deepest, stayed with me over time and taught me that parenting is the most important thing that I will ever do. Some of the stories are funny, some earnest. I think that you'll laugh a bunch, cry a few times, get scared, angry, hopeful and if I did my job you'll put the book down seeing parenting through my eyes.

My next entry Life Is Short: Leighann Wrote a Book will include the story of how the opportunity to write came my way, the beginning of the writing process and a bit about how I freaked out and happy danced after I agreed to write the book. With a little luck I may have the final version of the cover to show you soon. I hope that this first entry demonstrated that I plan to be as transparent about the book process as I am about diabetes. I genuinely believe that the ride I'm taking right now belongs to all of us, there is no way that a publisher would ever know my name if it wasn't for the strength that the diabetes online community possess.

- Scott

Introduction: Scott Benner

I'm a Stay-At-Home Dad. A type I diabetes advocate and blogger. I'm an author. I'm a husband, a believer in family, lover of love, user of sarcasm and much more.

I wrote my first book in elementary school and dreamt from that day forward about communicating with people. I began my type I diabetes caregiver blog, 'Arden's Day' on August 16, 2007. Publishing my thoughts online helped me to hone my writing, find a voice and build a following.

Sharing my life as a parent of a child with type i diabetes is as gratify a passion as I could have ever imagined. I love being even a small part of helping to make someone's day a little easier, less lonely and more hopeful.

In 2012 my writing caught the attention of a publishing company after I wrote a sidebar for a book they were preparing titled, 'Kids First, Diabetes Second'. The book's author Leighann Calentine is a friend of mine and she was so kind to ask me to make a small contribution to her book.

Some months later I was on my way to writing my own book about parenting and now I have this little space on the Internet where I will be blogging about what it was like to write my first book. I'll be sharing my experiences with the publishing, launch and PR process.

My book is titled Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confession of a Stay-At-Home Dad. It is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but if you don't know me from Arden's Day then we aren't up to the point (yet) where you'll want to order it.

I hope that you enjoy this blog and are moved to reach out and say hello.