the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: writing (Page 2 of 4)

Are Blog Commenters “Real” Writers?

A few weeks ago, there was a raucous argument online over the unimportant question of the day — are bloggers “real” writers?

I have my own thoughts about this, but I’m all about spreading the love, so for all practical purposes, I edge towards saying “yes.”  If you write, you’re a “real” writer, whatever that means.  A “professional” writer might be a better writer, but then again, there are a lot of shitty books published about cats.

The problem is the word “writing,” which like “blogging” is too broad and meaningless.  A doctor is a doctor, but you don’t want a pediatrician doing your heart surgery.  Blogging is a new art, and a singular discipline.  A good blogger might write a boring book.  On the other hand, I have read blogs written by novelists that bore me to tears.  These professionals  just don’t “get” the community aspect of blogging, or the soap opera-ish, episodic nature of a personal blog.   No writer can write anything.  Screenwriters are considered the low end of the writing totem pole, but both Hemingway and Fitzgerald took stabs at screenwriting, with awful results.  Every art form is different.  A play is performed live.  A movie uses editing.  Blogging is writing.  But writing isn’t blogging.  And really — who cares?  The whole conversation reeks of insecurity.   I’m not ashamed to say I am a blogger.  I’m ashamed to say I make NO MONEY blogging.   But I am proud to blog.   I love it!

When we talk about “real” writers, I’m assuming we are all thinking about someone like Jonathan Franzen, a guy who writes BOOKS you can buy in a store.   Of course, I only mention him because other bloggers are talking about him, which just proves that blogging is all about immediacy.

Yeah, I hear you.  Blogging is exactly like writing.  For every person who says that blogging is real writing, I wonder how many times you have gone into my archives to read my “writing,” as if my blog was a collection of short stories.   Never!    Gotcha!

In some ways, bloggers are not “real writers,” in that blogging is just plain different.  Bloggers use links.  Links are as revolutionary as editing in a movie, and completely unique to the online experience.  You never see links in a traditional novel.  Imagine a novelist describing Doctor Zhivago’s house, and then including a link to a photo in Flickr.  Bloggers play off of one another, like improv players.  Someone writes an angry post.  Two hours later, someone writes another post responding.  Blogging tends to be topical and immediate, like my name-dropping of Jonathan Franzen.  “Real writers” write in isolation, their beards growing gray as they toil over their masterpiece for ten years in an abandoned cabin in the woods.  And here is the real big difference, at least according to me:  most bloggers allow COMMENTS!  Not too many “real writers” allow comments on their novel, unless you are one of those crazy readers who scribble notes to the author on the side of the page.

“WTF?!  Are you saying that his wife is his OWN SISTER?! You are a perv!”

If you want to feel like a “real” writer, shut down your comments and let your beard grow.  If you want comments, and enjoy the adoration, you are a blogger.  Be happy.

Of course, as times change, so will our ideas about “writing.”  In ten years, all books might have “links” embedded, as we read them on our Kindles.

Which brings me to the real point of this post — blog comments.  If you are one of those people who shook your fist and shouted “Bloggers can be REAL WRITERS!,” I have a another question for you.  “Do you consider commenting to be real writing, and if no, why not?”

I do.  I consider my comments an integral part of my post.  The comments on one of my posts can be more interesting than my post.  They are very important in humor blogging.  Have you ever read the comments on The Bloggess?  They are hilarious.  Her blog would not be half as fun without her comments.  Jenny and her commenters FEED off of each other.  In fact, their relationship is so strong, I think she should SHARE all of her advertising dollars with her commenters.

I see many bloggers complaining about a lack of comments.  They usually blame Twitter and Facebook.  I say, it is your own fault.  You don’t respect comments as “real” writing.  You consider stupid one-liners on Twitter as “writing,” but the comments on your blog as an appendage to YOUR brilliant post.  Is it any wonder that there has been a brain-drain from the comment section to the Twitter stream?   There has already been a book on Twitter Wit?  Can you imagine a book of blog comments?  Can you imagine anyone getting a sitcom deal or book deal from a blog comment?  Of course not.  No one really respects the blog comment.

The first lesson I learned at film school is that the auteur theory of film-making was hogwash, created to fulfill the need for critics to analyze a movie in the same way that they would a book — written by one author.

We tend to view our blogs under this same “auteur” theory, dissing the community aspect of the medium.    Of course, this doesn’t stop us from pimping our blog posts on Twitter, or constantly networking.  Blogging is not only writing.  It is part circus, part Borg.

I write my blog.  It is my words.  But during my five year writing journey, I have been guided by YOU as much as by my own life.  YOU have been part of my experience.  We all have been part of each other’s blogging life.  This is what we mean when we talk about this “community.”  If we all just want to write on our own and think of ourselves as “writers,” then let’s drop blogging and write our books.  But if we are going to blog, we should embrace “blogging.”

I am not a good commenter.  I am more comfortable talking about my own life, than reflecting on yours.  I consider this a fault.

Commenting is a skill.  It is real writing.  I greatly appreciate smart comments.  For the longest time, I have wanted to come up with some sort of blog award, solely for comments, something that would undercut the typical “Best Blog of All Time” idea, a concept that would embrace the community, not just the individual blogger making believe she writes in complete isolation.  Perhaps by enobling the comment as an art form, as “real” writing, we can energize commenting again.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a session at a conference where the speakers doesn’t suggest ways to “get MORE COMMENTS” but instead — “how to write more meaningful comments on the blogs of your friends?” — taught by some of the best commenters amongst us.

If I actually started a Commenting Award, my personal nominee would be Headbang8.  When he comments on one of my posts, he takes my topic to another level.   This is, despite the fact that I rarely comment on HIS blog, mostly because he lives in Europe and isn’t in my usual circle of friends.  I can tell that this isn’t a reader who has zoomed though 100 blog posts in one morning.   He has actually thought about the subject, and when he writes a comment, I consider him to be a collaborator on the post.

And just to show how much he means to me, I will now share all of my advertising dollars with him.

Here is one of his recent comments on my post about my “big ears.”

Americans are plastic people. Often, in the best sense of the word.

Live your dream. You want to be an astronaut? Sure! A doctor? A scientist? A millionaire? Anybody can be anything they want to be. I was born in a log cabin but grew up to be president. I was once a football player and now I’m an actor. I was once a cheerleader and now I’m a movie star. I was a Catholic, now I’m a Buddhist. Live your dream. If you don’t, you have only yourself to blame. You didn’t try hard enough.

That sort of thinking spreads to your body. If I have only one life, let me live it as a blonde. You can shape your body. If you’re fat, it’s your own fault.

I once worked on the advertising account of a product that had to do with teeth. My god, what baggage teeth carry! If your teeth are bad, it’s a marker of poor discipline (did you brush right as a child?) or social class (could your parents afford braces?) or old age (yellow = old and decrepit). People around the world shake their heads in amazement about an American’s obsession with his smile.

Amidst all this obsession about be-the-best-you-can-be, it comes as a comfort, from time to time, simply to say “I am what I am”.

That’s what your tribe is for. The people amongst whom you feel comfortable. Who know your experience. The people with whom you can let your hair down.

Generally, we are born into a tribe. Few of us change ourselves to be part of a tribe to which we don’t naturally belong. We see or find people like ourselves. And discover that though we may differ, the thing we have in common makes those other differences unimportant. That’s a source of great serenity, self-confidence and strength.

The big-eared. It may seem slight to build a tribe around. But it was enough to make you feel bad about yourself growing up. It had an effect on you.

These wing-nuts, these head-kites, these flesh-made Flying Nuns, these Basset Humans, these Dumbos are your people, Neil. Embrace them. Love them. May you never have to grow your hair long, ever again.

Now THAT is “real” writing. In a comment.

I Write

I write to share my wisdom arising from my life experience. My words are like the rain, and you are like the soil, and when my nourishment satisfies your thirst for knowledge, you grow tall, like the grass and the flowers and the mightiest of trees. I write to educate you, to guide you to greatness. Once you were lowly, but after reading my words, you will be flying with the eagles in the clouds!

I write to lie, to make up shit, to come up with ridiculous statements like the first paragraph because I can imagine some asshole really writing that nonsense, and it makes me laugh.

I have no idea why I write. I’ve always written.

I write to clarify things in my own head.

I write to remember things.

I write to express love without having to say it out loud.

I write to imagine myself as other people, like an actor.

I write to be the real me, because, in real life, I am TOO much of an actor.

I write to impress girls so they will fall in love with him.

I write because writing is powerful, and I don’t own a gun.

I write just to amuse one person, who I know will get the joke.

I write because I don’t have a choice.

I write because good writers turn me on more than naked Playboy bunnies, and writing well is the only way I know to get them to talk to me.

I write to waste time.

I write to hide.

I write to be passive/aggressive in a cowardly way, and then feel guilty about it.

I write to be political, but not often enough.

I write to be truthful to others, because I rarely get a chance to be truthful in my daily life.

I write to force myself to stop lying… to myself.

I write because I’m not very good at football.

I write because when I read books, I’m always saying, “I can do better than that!”

I write because you can’t masturbate in Starbucks, but they do allow you to bring your laptop, so it gives me something to do while drinking coffee.

My Favorite Citizen of the Month Blog Posts, 2009

I have a feeling my December is going to be chaotic, so I wanted to thank everyone who came by to read my writing during 2009 NOW.   I read through my archives today, and picked out a few of my favorites.   Do you read through your archives at the end of the year?  I strongly suggest you do it, because it gives you a good idea of where your head was for the last twelve months.

Most of my posts in 2009 were decent enough, but I looked for posts that still “spoke to me” or made me laugh.  I tried to write more for myself this year, and I enjoyed it.    Surprisingly, I feel good about my writing this year.  One troubling aspect of my blog in 2009 posts is how internal the themes became, as if my mind was collapsing onto itself.  My blog theme for 2009 could be titled “Avoiding Real Life.”   For the first time in years, most of my posts had nothing to do with Sophia, at least openly.   Most of my favorite posts were fictional, silly, poetic, or without any connection to my day to day life.  I’m not sure how healthy this is in the long run.  It is something I am thinking about right now.

I split my favorites into three categories, even with five posts.

1)  Stories with 0% Truth Quotient

2)  True (Or Mostly True) Stories


3)  Poetic (or Pretentious, Depending on Your Taste)


Stories with 0% Truth Quotient

Last, part 1 (part 2)

Written on New Year’s Day, it is the story of a man’s passion to stop always being “last.”

The Easy Chair
An unloved boy turns into an easy chair.

The Canasta Group of Boca Raton
A group of senior citizens in Boca Raton watch a naked man taking a shower.

The Wealthiest Man in Town

The wealthiest man in a small pre-war shtetl has a question for his rabbi.

A Master Class

My mother gives sex advice to a female blogger on IM.


True (Or Mostly True) Stories

Very Vague Dispatch from LA, #7

I brazenly share the armrest with a woman on a flight to New York.

48 Rolls

I am embarrassed to carry two giant packages of toilet paper back home from Walgreens.

Aligning the Planets

I am included in a Jewish prayer service during a shiva call in my apartment building.

The Shower Curtain

I frantically try to find a new shower curtain before my mother returns home from Florida.

Family History

I learn the truth about my grandparents.


Poetic (or Pretentious, Depending on Your Taste)

Words Cannot

Words cannot capture the energy I feel around me, all the time…


My life was forever changed when I met you…

Owning My Words

One day I would like to own my words…

The Sacrifice

I walked outside and it was pouring cold rain…

Wood-Grained Turntable

I was reading your writing, listening to the pain in your voices, and then, finally, I heard mine…

The Therapist of the Blogosphere

If you’ve ever been to a therapist’s office, you’ve probably had a similar experience.   You sit on the comfortable chair or couch, and tell the therapist that you have a problem.

“What is the problem?” the therapist asks.

“My problem is THIS,” you answer.

The therapist writes something in his notebook.  Since you have openly and eagerly said that your problem is THIS, he knows that there is a 99% chance that your real problem is not THIS, but THAT, and his job is to help you see THAT.

Remember THAT.


Paul O’Flaherty writes a sarcastic blog about the internet.  He recently wrote a post titled “You’re An Attention Whore and You Know It.”

His basic thesis is this:

“The real reason we blog, twitter, podcast and vidcast is because we are all narcissistic egomaniacs / attention whores / desperately seeking recognition.”

OK, fair enough.  But I disagreed with his thesis, and he challenged me to write a response.

At first glance, his thesis makes sense, especially after last week’s dramas.  First, in the “real” world, there was that ridiculous, overblown balloon boy scam, a desperate attempt at attention.  Closer to home, there was a blogger friend who apparently made up a controversial story to “get attention” from the competitive mommyblogging community, angering many others.   Clearly, we are all attention whores, right?

I was close to agreeing with Paul, when I read the comments on his “Attention Whore” post.

“Guilty as charged. I just want the fifteen minutes that Andy Warhol promised me. No more, no less.  OK, I might want more,” wrote the first commenter.

“Hey, I like attention as much as the next girl and I flat out admit that. And if somewhere along the line someone wants to give me some decent free crap, you can bet I’m grabbing that up too.   Attention and free crap rocks my world,” said another.

Even Paul himself jumped in.

“No irony – I’m as big an attention whore as the next blogger :) LOL,”  he said.

That’s when the red flag went up.  Why is everyone so freely saying that they are an attention whore?   Isn’t anyone ashamed of saying so?    That’s when it became clear to me, that in our current day, attention whoring is not so bad.   We see it as a positive trait, until someone gets caught lying, and then we all jump on them for ruining the party.    We live in a society where loud voices and controversy sells.   Most of our leaders are attention whores.  Successful bloggers are attention whores, and end up at conferences teaching others how to be effective attention whores.  Attention whoring is a skill set that most of us would be proud to put on our resume, under “Knowing Photoshop.”  We are proud of saying we are attention whores.


Remember the therapist’s office?  Imagine I am the Therapist of the Blogosphere. You have just walked into my office.

“What is the problem?” I ask.

“I am an attention whore,” you answer, feeling confident that you know yourself well, and will only need a few sessions to clear up any of your issues.”

That is the moment when I start writing in my notebook.

“The issue is NOT attention-whoring.”


As a trained blog therapist, I have an acute sensibility to others.  When I read through my daily blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates, I do not feel attention-whoring jumping out at me from the other side of the screen.  That is a word without any emotional content.  I sense loneliness, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, the need for comfort and hope, and the yearning for love.  I see this deeply-felt energy of loss and wanting everywhere I go, on every blog, in V-grrrl, Dooce, Perez Hilton, and Guy Kawasaki.   No one will admit this because these are not traits we want to put on our resumes, or write on a blog comments.  We are ashamed of our weaknesses.   We are afraid of being taken advantage of by others.

But these are the key components of blogging.


When anyone comes into my blogger’s therapy office and says that they are an “attention whore,” I immediately open my notebook and write “fearful.”

Virtual Blogging Conference – Day One – “Being Practical”

I was reading some of tweets from a recent blogging conference, and the tidbits of expertise sounded pretty trite.

“Find your tribe.”

“Comment freely.”

“Give to the community and the community gives back.”

C’mon, we all know that shit already. I knew that stuff when I was blogging for one week.

I remember during BlogHer, when Amy and I were doing our storytelling session, a new blogger stood up, asking an earnest question. After hearing the two of us talk for a while, she wanted to know if she was “writing her blog wrong.” This freaked me out, because I had just spent the last fifteen minutes “explaining” the rules of good storytelling, and I suddenly realized that this woman had actually LISTENED to what we were saying and was taking it seriously, as if we actually knew the definitive answer to the question, “What makes a good story?” I found myself getting pissed off at this woman. Couldn’t she see that Amy and I were nice people, but ultimately frauds?

“Don’t listen to what we are saying,” I told her. “If you follow what we tell you, you will write a crappy blog. You need to listen, understand it, and then say, “F*ck you, I’m doing it my way.” Then, you will have a good blog.”

Of course, I didn’t really believe that either. So much for being a good teacher.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about the practical aspects of writing online rather than artistic ones. Let’s face it. Having a personal blog just doesn’t bring in the chicks as much as it used to. I met these bloggers last week, and there was little interest in personal blogging. Most of the talk was about book deals, blogging conferences, blogging summits, marketing opportunities, and staffs of writers on blogging magazines. Half of my blogging friends have moved away from their personal blogs to primarily write elsewhere. They are smart. Everyone needs money to live, including bloggers.

I have no complaints. Blogging has been good for me. I like my personal blog. But for many of us, especially if you have some ambition, it is not enough. Most of my writing for pay has nothing to do with blogging, so it has been a vanity publication for myself. Am I the only one who is noticing a growing lack of respect for the old-fashioned “blogging for self-therapy?” Even mothers, who used to say they blogged for “community,” now say they are in it for commerce. A mompreneur is cool. Blogging because you are lonely at home is kinda pathetic. Male bloggers have the most pressure. What male blogger hasn’t been asked by his buddies —

“So, dude, how much do you make on your blog?”

“Uh, nothing.”

“So, why are you doing it?”

“It is a creative outlet.”

“Man, if I had all that free time, I would at least be watching porn and jerking off!”

“I don’t really consider writing my blog as “jerking off.”

“I see. What you are saying is “Blogging” IS a code word for jerking off. I knew it! That’s cool that you can be home and jerk off. You had me there for a second with that blog writing shit. No real man is gonna be working for no money unless he lost his dick down the drain.”


Today, I will be running a Virtual Blogging Conference on this blog. There will be only one person attending this conference. His name is Mike.

Here is Mike.


YOU — all of you who have come to this post — have been hired as speakers at the conference. There will be no pay, but free virtual potato chips will be available in the lobby.

Today’s session is titled “Being Practical.”

Our job is to help Mike.

Mike just started blogging last week. He is a nice guy. He has a funny and likable writing style. He lives in Tulsa. He writes about his wife and his dog. Sometimes he writes about the funny things that happen at his office, where he is a graphic designer.

As a blogger, he has a goal. Within one year, he wants to have an extremely popular blog, make at least 500 dollars a month in ad revenue, win a blogging award, be written about in the New York Times, have an article published in the Huffington Post, be a keynote speaker at BlogHer, have a book deal with Random House, get a free trip to Disney World to blog about my experience, be followed by big-shot tech blogger Robert Scoble on Twitter, and gotten drunk with the Bloggess and French-kissed her at a Christmas party.

You may not care about any of these things. But Mike does. And he has paid good money to come to this conference. Our job is to figure out the best way to help him accomplish his simple goal. Seriously. In the comments.

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?

It’s the Journey, Stupid

I will be posting every day for the month of September. Let me warn you ahead of time. Many of these posts will be bad or lazily-written. I will have no time to be clever. I realize that this will be sabotaging my “brand” and my name, but sometimes we have to sacrifice everything for the greater good.

Why will I be posting every day for the month of September? Here is the uplifting tale —

I was kvetching on Twitter, as I frequently do, saying that I had lost my blogging mojo. There were many factors at play, causing this state of mojo-less — personal ones, disenchantment with the blogging world, the trauma of attending BlogHer, and a lack of focus.

After I wrote this “tweet,” some nice woman from one of our fine Southern states, sent me a message that struck me deep, like a Confederate knife into my abdomen. This nice woman was not a long-time reader of my blog or someone I knew that well, just a concerned citizen, but her voice from the darkness was a lifeline of reason and compassion. She said, and I paraphrase, “Shut the f**k up and just blog every day for the month of September.” I’m not sure if she used those exact words, but those are the ones that I heard.

I know some bloggers try to post each day as a writing exercise or as a challenge to themselves. I don’t care about that. The last thing I want to do is clutter my template with one of those “I Did Namblopomo Last Month” (National Blog Posting….). In my opinion, that is not a inspirational goal. Call me old-fashioned, sexist, patriarchal — but I can only visualize one true reason for doing anything:

“If I post every day for the month of September, will you tell me your bra size?” I asked.

She said yes, without a hesitation. Southern women are confident, and don’t play games. I am learning that.

I had my motivation. My muse. I said it was an uplifting tale!

Was it wrong for me to ask for this request? I don’t think so. Great literature, from Homer to Cervantes to Shakespeare, are filled with tales of men going out into the world to achieve an impossible task for the honor of a woman. Why else do the f**king impossible task?! Right?

And yes, I want a pay-off at the end. I am a man. I figured that asking for her bra size was extremely personal, but not outrageous in these modern times when women post about their vibrators, a 2009 equivalent of the thirteenth century knight asking the maiden for a locket of her hair.

Some of my male blogger friends were all, “Dude, you sold yourself short. You should have held out for a topless photo!” These men clearly do not understand what a muse is all about, because they have spent more time reading Penthouse letters than Ovid. Asking for a topless photo would be sleazy and TOO practical, undermining the beauty and poetry of the JOURNEY.

And yes, this is a journey. And yes, there will be a prize at the end, if I can fight the demons and sirens and fight the windmills and battle the Trojans and accomplish all of my tasks. The prize will be a satisfying one, a key to the unlocking of a woman’s deepest and precious mystery, but it is also a pointless one. And THAT is the point. I had lost my blogging mojo because I was in search of a reason – a practical point – for writing this blog, and the answer is — there is none. The journey exists on its own. There should be no prize. But, alas, I still needed one, even an illogical one, because I am a weak man, a soldier without a war, an athlete without a team, a priest without a God. I needed a muse. And soon I will know her bra size.

Thinking About Money

Is it that bad for Bank of America?!  (actually a bank in a Los Angeles supermarket)

With friends and family members getting laid off and the economy growing sour, I think a lot more about money lately, and how important it is to have a decent amount of this precious commodity if you want to live a certain lifestyle  (like LIVING IN an apartment in New York or LA).

My trip to Las Vegas last week was enough to remind me what it is like to stay at hotels, eat and drink well, go to expensive shows, and have to pay for it!  Even BlogHer will end up costing a $1000 dollars, right?  How do some of you afford to go to a different online conference every other week?

I used to make fun of your constant advertising and pimping, but maybe you are the smart ones.  Your main priority is to your family and self.  What’s the point of doing anything if it isn’t helping you get front row seats to Cirque de Soleil?

Of course, I’m not sure I believe any of this — that’s the problem — or else I wouldn’t have to write this here making believe I do.  I have a habit of writing things I don’t believe in an effort to force myself to accept it, as if I repeat it over and over, I will hypnotise myself into submission.

Run! He’s Writing a Poem

Two bloggers friends have been screwing around with my head lately — Jane Devin and Dana Guthrie Martin.  Both of them are what they used to call “writers.”  They do not write screenplays where some guy’s penis gets caught in the trunk of a Toyota Prius.  They write pieces they truly care about.  They love language and ideas and that type of shit.  They are passionate and honest in what they say. 

I hate everything they stand for. 

From now on, whenever I write an “emotional” post which bores you to death, I want you to blame these two bloggers for their negative influences.  Remember when I used to be funny.  How many of you are excited to see Woody Allen’s latest unfunny movie? 

At one time, I wanted to be the next Dooce.  Now, I’m deleting half of my followers from Twitter and Flickr.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  I’m a Pisces.  Astrology books say that I am a sensitive soul who can only deal with two or three close friends.  It’s not that I don’t care.  I actually DO care what type of sandwich you had for lunch.

How do you people read so many blog posts in one day?  I read some tech blogger bragging about being able to read 100 posts daily in his Google Reader.   Is he a robot?  I read two or three decent posts, and I’m drained.

I understand that there is a social dynamic to blogging.  Everyone wants to be loved and admired, but let’s be honest — most of us would be plain miserable being an A-list blogger.  Yes, I think for the first time in my blogging career, I actually feel sympathy for Dooce.  It must be hard to deal with 1000 commenters, and strangers thinking they “love” you.   I never want to hear any ONE of you ever saying that you “love” me, unless, of course, we first have sex, then it is a given.  You might like me.  You might find my jokes mildly amusing.  But EVEN I’m not sure I love myself!  Love Dooce instead.

I sometimes find it difficult to deal with getting thirty comments a day.  I mean I like the comments, but I also know that YOU are writers, too, and you deserve love and attention, so I feel like a jerk if I don’t immediately go to your blog and write a comment back.   I know I sound like an asshole complaining when you’re a blogger who only getting two comments, but who’s to say that it is better to have thirty comments than two comments?  Is it better to sleep around with strangers in bars every night or have one loving wife at home waiting for you?   If I ran the blogosphere, I would limit comments to thirty maximum per post. That is enough to stroke any ego.  OK, I’m going to be RADICAL here.  If you see that I already have thirty comments, do everyone a favor and go put a comment on a blog with less comments.  You can always send me an email or a message on Twitter later telling me that you liked the post.  Or just send me a photo of your bra.

Do any really BIG bloggers read Citizen of the Month?  I mean YOU Dooce, Pioneer Woman, Stephanie Klein, etc. (no, not you Bloggess… not yet)?  Does anyone know them personally?  I would love to talk to you — even interview you for this blog.  I wouldn’t ask you about writing or your blog.  I would be curious on how you deal emotionally with other bloggers?  How difficult is it?  Does it drain your energy?  Why do you even continue when you could be writing in other venues?  And most importantly… do any of us really want to follow in your footsteps?  Or is that what success is all about — having to deal with a lot of strangers?

These are all selfish questions.  Maybe I’m not emotionally fit to be an A-lister, even if my writing got to that level.  I sort of like being the bohemian, spouting socialist slogans like “everyone is interesting” and not caring about anyone’s reaction when I inappropriately flirt with some hot mommyblogger.

“Oh, that’s just Neilochka!  He’s harmless.  He’s not an A-lister or anything like that.”

Of course, I would be bullshitting you if I said I didn’t care about success.   It would be cool to make a great living through wriitng.  It would be fun to give a keynote address at some blogging conference, the audience oohing and aahing to my every word.  Of course, I would quickly run out afterwards so I wouldn’t have to talk to any of you. 

And talk about opportunities for getting laid!

But then, sometimes, I think about going small with this blog… or starting all over again, like the first “real writer” I got to know online.   I could then focus more on my writing than worrying about all this nonsense.  But why in the world would I do that?   If I wanted fewer readers, I could just do it the old-fashioned way — by publishing poetry!

Ha Ha.  I can just see the faces of some of you.  Oh no!  He’s going to publish some poetry!

Luckily, I didn’t write it myself.  Dana started something called the Poetry Collaborative.  Under this system, two people write a poem together via email or IM.  It’s more of an experiment than anything else, because we took turns writing lines.  My victim/collaborator was the talented Christine Swint of Maria Cristina Poesia.

Here is our poem… wait, let me give some of you the chance to click over to a better blog… OK, for those left behind —

when clouds cover the moon

by Neil and Christine

My hands are orchids,
but in anger they provoke

violet bruises. Livid
birds screech in a dovecote,

wings beating against bamboo.
Their black judgment must abide,

suspended in time, like an ant in amber
or Papa when he’s high–

his gnarled hands turn a crank
that voice! that voice! it’s mine–

not a magpie’s, nor a mountebank’s,
piercing the nighttime.

I wish for whispers, willows,
a sunrise tomorrow.

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