the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Write What You Know


for the Absence of Alternatives

Sherry called me about the blog post that I emailed her earlier that day.  I had asked her to read it before I published it.

“You cannot publish this,” she said.

“Why not?”

She read me the last paragraph of my piece over the phone.  Her voice had a tone of shrill mockery.

“Jason walked up to the plate, the baseball bat in his tiny outstretched hand. It was at that moment, the fifth inning of second game of the Queens County Peewee Little League season,  that I saw my son become a man, confident and assured, a true athlete, a mirror image of his old man. “That’s my son,” I wanted to shout. “That’s my beautiful son!”

I was so proud of myself when I wrote that passage, sharing a touching moment with my readers, that I was shocked when I heard Sherry’s disapproval.

“You didn’t like it?” I asked, confused. “I thought you would be moved to tears!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?  It doesn’t matter WHAT I feel. It’s not true. You are not a father. You do not have a son. You were never an athlete.”

“It’s fiction.”

“And how do I know it’s fiction.”

“Look at the very end of the piece. In the tiny print, it says — “this is pure fiction.””

“No, no, no. That doesn’t change a thing.  A blog post has to be true. It cannot be fiction.  Look, I know you are jealous of all of the mommy and daddy bloggers out there and all the attention they from the brands, but you can’t write a story about being a father.”

“Why not?”

“Because it opens up a Pandora’s box that will allow white people to steal the stories of African-Americans, and men to write like they understand women, until eventually no one will know what is true and what is fake, and society will simply collapse. We must write what we know.”

“But it’s fiction! Tolkien didn’t know any Hobbits.”

“There are no real Hobbits. But there are real fathers. And you will never know what it means to be a father going to a Little League game. You can never write about it honestly. Even in fiction.  Write about your own life. Sophia, Juli, your mother.”

“But it can be frustrating just writing about my own life.   When I become too honest about my life, people become all judgmental about my life choices, and unfollow me on Facebook.”

“Stop worrying so much  about other people. If you are honest and authentic, we accept you for who you really are.  We WANT to know the REAL you and the REAL events in your life!”

“Is that true or is that just a platitude?” I asked, chuckling. “Do you really and honestly want me to write a blog post about the time you and Martha gave me those blowjobs inside the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland during that Disney Social Media weekend?”

“Stop it!  You promised me!  You can never ever tell that story. Especially since Disney is one of my biggest clients.”

“But it’s a true story, right?”

“Of course it’s a true story. But you have to maintain some confidentiality. You have to act like a professional and not just blurt everything out.”

“So, do you see the bind I’m in?  I can’t make up stories about being a father because it isn’t true.   And I can’t tell true life stories about getting blowjobs by mommybloggers during Disney Social Media weekends because it is TOO true.   So, what else am I left with?”

“You can write a post for my “Campaign to Stop Bullying Blogathon.”

“I’m never writing an anti-bullying post. I like bullying. In fact, bullying was one of my favorite pastimes when I was a teenager. I bullied other kids. And that’s the God Honest Truth.”

“Neil, I don’t believe a word you’re saying. You’re a liar.”

“I’m a writer.”

“No, you’re not. A writer writes honestly and authentically, but without malice, and betters the world.  You’re a fool. The world never improves from your writing.  It just grows worse.”


Later that night, there was a knock on my door. It was Sergeant Anthony Rodriguez of the NYPD, 107th Police Precinct. He was a short balding man with a bodybuilder’s body that fit too snugly in his blue uniform.

“Do you know a woman named Sherry Koningsberg,” he asked. His eyes squinted, as if trying to read my face before I even answered.

“Yes,” I do. “She’s an online friend.”

“She’s dead.”

“OMG,” I said.


“OMG. That means Oh My God in Internet talk.”

“Whatever. Your friend was murdered!”


He reached into his side pocket and presented me with a crumpled piece of paper. I unfolded it, as slowly as unraveling an origami bird. It was a printout of the blog post that I emailed to Sherry the previous night. And it was splattered with her dark red blood, the same color that was staining my t-shirt that read “Write What You Know,” the one I bought at the Strand Bookstore in December on that same day I was caught masturbating to that Thai Noodle cookbook in the Culinary Adventures aisle of the bookstore.

“You’re under arrest,” uttered Officer Rodriguez, and read me my Miranda rights. My eyes fluttered left and right, looking for an escape.  And then I did it.  I charged forward, pushing the officer aside, and sped down the corridor, like a gazelle running from a tiger, but before I could reach the staircase, I felt the hard cold knock of a wooden club smack me in the back of my head, and I fell to the freshly washed tile floor with a loud thud, and I was out cold.

tiny print — this is pure fiction.


  1. Bon

    i knew it was fiction when you said your floor was freshly washed. no one whose floors are freshly washed has the time to write clever satire.

    • Absence of alternatives

      i thought I was going to write something witty until I saw this comment. BEST COMMENT EVER. The caliber of your readers speak loudly to the caliber of your writing and intellect. (Not counting me of course…)

      Kudos. Both of you.

  2. Absence of alternatives

    This is like inception of fictions and blog posts.

    I thought good writers write what they know in real life. Brilliant writers write what they don’t know but wish they knew in real life.

    This is beyond brilliant because I am not certain what you do or don’t know. But by the end of it, I could care less because I ‘feel’ that you know.

  3. marty


  4. Shannon akaMonty

    That same exact thing happened to me last week. Well, except for the masturbating in the bookstore. I save that for the food court in the mall.

  5. Neil

    The part of the Thai Noodle cookbook is probably the only honest thing. I love noodles!

  6. Sarah Piazza

    Oy. And hah!

  7. Suebob

    I’m starting a memorial fund for poor Sherry. People can paypal me their money. Thx.

  8. Kim

    Well, that post took an unexpected turn. A few of them, actually. I think you have more talent than you realize.

  9. Marcy

    *note to self: never criticize one of Neil’s blog posts…*

    • Neil

      Ha ha, writing IS the best revenge!

  10. Ash

    Sounds like a graphic novel to me… and nobody writes what they know, it’s all lies, but then that was your point wasn’t it?

  11. Marie Nicole

    So what you’re telling us is you know all about sudden murders? 😉

    Oddly enough I was not expecting that tiny print at the end. I loved how you presented this piece. How it seemed to blend reality with fiction. How it appeared as a rel conversation between you and a friend. And then she gets m-m-m-murdered? Unexpected! What a great twist!

    Oh and about the scribbles in the picture… Is that your handwriting? It’s frazzled but poetic. It’s the handwriting of an artist.

  12. Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom

    That’s using your noodle. Pure excellence!

  13. Lisahgolden

    Nicely done! It’s like a Russian stacking doll of a story. I love it!

  14. Tricia O.

    Holy shit, Neil. This is one of the most hilarious posts you’ve ever written. Blow jobs in the Small World ride from mommybloggers; I cackled when I read it. Nice job.

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