the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: character

Character and Self Doubt

I’ve having difficulty writing on my blog lately. I write posts and then scrap them. Too somber. Too sad. Too depressing. Too kvetchy.

Today, I thought I would shake things up by returning to the past. I would write a funny, sexually-oriented post, something I might have written in 2007. In the scenario, my blog character would bed six women at once. I prepared for the post by plotting out his lovemaking technique on a blueprint, setting the positioning mathematically — one woman riding him, one on his face, one women at each of his sides, his fingers inside them, and two women on each of Neilochka’s big toes.

Just as the women were getting hot and heavy, my blog character pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” he said, tears building in his eyes. “I can’t go on.”

The women were in shock, knowing Neilochka’s Don Juan reputation.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” he added. “I’m just not into fucking six women at the same time tonight.”

Now, it is a sad when a man performs poorly in bed in the “real world.” It is downright tragic when a “blog character” walks away from six babes wanting his body more than a pint of the best frozen yogurt.

But it isn’t 2007 anymore. Back then, my blog character was proud and cocky. He bragged about his blog being the greatest in the universe. He stood on top of the Empire State Building and hung a banner for all to see, “Citizen of the Month: Fuck Yeah!”

Life has knocked out this blog character, right on the mat, TKO-ed. Now he hobbles, half the man he used to be. In 2007, all six women in his bed would have had the orgasm of their lives. Now they all go to Yogurtland, noshing on the butter pecan frozen yogurt as a conciliation prize, leaving Neilochka alone, sulking, naked, vulnerable, his head in his hands, slouched over at the edge of his bed.

I’m ashamed of my blog character, this “Neilochka.” He is stuck in a rut. How long can he hang on to Sophia’s apron string, waffling between decisions, ping-ponging back and forth from LA and NY. And now this FIL subplot — how depressing! If my blog was a book, and I was the editor, I would tell the writer to cut out the last six chapters.

“You need to get this story moving. Throw in a new twist. This character is turning into a loser. He can’t even fuck six imaginary hotties? Who’s gonna read this book?”

It’s hard to write when you are ashamed of your blog character. I read your blogs, and you have created such excellent blog characters. So much movement and character change. Your blog characters have married, had children, changed jobs, overcome great odds!

My blog character, once a leader amongst men, has become static and unmoving, like a log in a old forest. He does not DESERVE to be the star of his own blog.

Neilochka was once a source of pride. Now he is a badge of shame.

I need to work on this character to make him relevant again to modern audiences.

My Own Worst Character

Is there any worse feeling online than being dropped from someone’s blogroll, unfriended on Facebook, or unfollowed on Twitter, and you have no idea why this has occurred and you are not sure if you said something wrong, or if you are now officially “dead to this person,” and you don’t know if it is proper etiquette to ask the person why or just leave it alone?

I sometimes get unfollowed on Twitter for saying something stupid about mommybloggers or the “hotness” of a woman’s avatar.  I know this information now because I downloaded this iphone app called “Birdbrain,” which alerts me when I am unfollowed.  It is a mean-spirited and relentlessly annoying iphone app.  Opening this app each day is akin to dragging yourself through the city square in 18th Century Paris for a beheading.

Since I am a humorous type of guy, I wrote this comment on Twitter today, “The next person who unfollows me, will get a stern phone call… from my mother!”

I received this witty response from another blogger, “I’m almost tempted to unfollow you today just so I can chat with your mother.  Your mother is so sassy!”

This reply gave me pause.  This woman on Twitter was being nice and complimenting me on my mother but how does she know — or even assume — that my mother is SASSY?

Of course, the answer is that I have portrayed my mother as sassy in my blog and tweets.  This made me angry at myself, and my own failure as a writer.  After so many posts about my mother, is this what my artistry has produced? — that she is sassy?  Have I used my mother to create a character from “The Golden Girls?”   The insides of my stomach tightened and I had to turn off my laptop.   I was upset not because I might have characterized her incorrectly, but because I can do better.

It is so easy to forget the power of our words.  My writing may not have the ability to bring the Maytag Company to her knees, like Dooce’s, but I have the ability to create images in your mind about others  Is my mother sassy?  Well, maybe to YOU she might be, particularly if you have a prim and proper matriarch as a Mom, but that is not the first word that would come out of my mouth in describing her.  I see “sassy” as closer to Esther Rolle in Good Times.

Is there anything more difficult than capturing the personality of someone close to you — in words?  When it is a fictional characters, cliches can often be enough.  But your own mother?   She is sassy.  She is shy.  She is efficient.  She is an  unorganized mess.  She is too complicated to make into a clear-cut fictional character.  I can only give you a “taste” of her.

I have done an equally poor job in conveying the personality of Sophia.   Probably my least developed online character is “myself.”   The job of the writer is to focus on the narrative and delete unessential elements  in order to tell a story.  I am  envious of all those who are writing memoirs about their lives, and are able to focus on a specific chapter of their life — overcoming a divorce, raising a child, or a road trip across the country.   I get so lost in my own head, that I am not even sure how to describe my true character.  I can be funny, and serious.  I am neurotic, and confident. How am I supposed to tell you who I am, when I am full  of contradictions to myself?

My biggest frustration with online life is the way it is both so extremely intimate, and at the same time, superficial in how we present ourselves, and interact with each other.

I met quite a few bloggers at BlogHer.  Most bloggers were exactly as I pictured them from reading their blog.  Others were different, as if the blog persona was in the deep recesses of the brain and only came out during the writing, like a Devil taking over the body.  Some never said a word to me, and I didn’t speak to them.  Most clearly emphasized only one element of their persona online — their parenting or their business side — and it was difficult to understand the real person behind the monitor.

However you view me, or my mother, or anyone I write about, you would be completely right.  And wrong.  And that is a frustrating thought.    In the future, I am going to try harder to capture my real world and my own character on paper.   Or is it ultimately impossible to bring the reality — in all its three-dimensional glory — into words?

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