Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Power of One Reader

On Sunday night, I was feeling sad.  I was thinking about my marriage situation, why I was taking so long to move out, whether I should get a roommate, if I should go to New York for a few weeks, how that would affect my writing, and other issues that I would rather not have bouncing about in my head.  These nagging questions took time and energy from important things, like keeping up with your blogs, or poking people on Facebook.

Don’t worry, Mom.  I wasn’t depressed, just sad.   

So, what does a blogger do when he’s feeling sad?   He writes a blog post. 

I wrote a blog post about… feeling sad.  When it was done, I read it over, and it just seemed pointless.  What was I  expressing? 

I… am… feeling… sad… period.    Bleh. 

There wasn’t much artistic merit here.  I didn’t describe the sadness in any poetic manner,  like saying my sadness was like a black cloud hovering over Redondo Beach or compare my life to the crumbling facade of an ancient pyramid in the Egyptian desert.  I’m not that melodramatic.  Life goes on.  My sadness was more a pedestrian sadness… a blah sadness.  The type a sadness where a friend might call you on the phone and say, “Hey, let’s go to see that new movie where Jessica Alba walks around in a bikini,” and I might answer, “Eh.”

So, I wrote the sadness post.  It was done, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to publish it.  I noticed that a blogger friend was on Yahoo IM.  I contacted her.

“Could you do me a favor?” I asked. “I wrote this post about being sad, but I haven’t published it yet.  Could you read it and tell me if you think it is something I should publish?”

“Sure,” she said.

I sent the post over and waited for her response.  After a few minutes of me nervously pulling the hairs out of my arm —

“It’s good.  You should publish it.”

“Isn’t it… about nothing?”

“Well, you’re sad.  That’s what it is about.”

The moment she said this, I suddenly felt very different… calmer.  I felt relieved, as if my stress had drifted off.  What had happened?

Someone had read my post about being sad.  Someone knew I was feeling sad on this Sunday in April.

Oddly, I didn’t have the need to publish it anymore.  She knew I was sad.  It was enough.  It wasn’t important to have readers from the four corners of the world reading my post.  I wasn’t trying to promote my blog.  I just wanted to to tell someone that I was feeling sad.  And now I did.  Mission accomplished.   I said thanks to the blogger, and that was it.  I deleted the post and wrote another post where I have sex with various women in my old bedroom in New York.  Did I think this new post was a bit stupid and perverse?  You bet.  But it made me laugh, and I wasn’t sad anymore. 

Bloggers always talk about how many “comments” we get, as if getting 300 strangers giving you feedback is the ultimate validation.   Sure, it is amazingly cool and satisfying.  Yesterday, I just wanted to connect… to say that I was feeling sad.   And one reader was all that I needed to make me feel better.

59 Comments

  1. Is Jessica Alba pregnant in the movie?

    Bloggers helping bloggers. It’s nice.

  2. So you have learned one of my tricks. There are the posts that I write purely for myself; I don’t publish these posts.

    Then there are the posts I want to publish but feel that I shouldn’t. These are the ones that I email to friends. Often I don’t want to publish these posts. But then sometimes they give editing tips and all hell breaks loose.

  3. you are adorable. bring this fact back to mind when you are sad.

  4. wow ~ what an insightful post ~ I’ll remember this the next time I delete a draft post, or feel sad when no one posts a comment on that one post I felt was so damn great ~ you have such different, wonderful voices in your posts ~ thanks for that ~

  5. I’ve done that many times and called it different things. My favorite was when I referred to it as ennui.

    Ha, ha, ha!!
    Hope your feeling better today. I know its a minute by minute thing.

  6. That is why I blog.

    It is the connection with others…many times the few.

  7. I have drafts and drafts of posts I needed to write, but didn’t publish. Just writing helps sometimes.

  8. Neil, you’ve just removed that veil/facade that you wear when you write your wacko and hilarious pieces.

    You were simply being…Neil. Simple, sweet and honest.

    I’m glad that 1 reader (out of HUNDREDS)could help you work through your sadness. But where the hell does that leave your other 999 readers!?

  9. Your stupid and perverse posts are hilarious, but your honest and insightful posts are wonderful to read too.

    Sometimes the honest posts are the hardest to write. (and harder to publish)

    I’m glad someone helped you feel better.

  10. A shared burden is naturally a lighter burden. How wonderful you have people to share yours with!

  11. This my friend, is a great post.

  12. I’m glad it made you feel better, but I wish you could have shared it with the rest of us too. I like it when you’re just you.

  13. I feel nervous every. single. time. I hit “publish”.

    That first comment? Makes me feel like I have been heard, and that someone “gets” me.

    I no longer feel like I’m standing there with my hand in the air, waiting for someone to high-five me.

  14. I can really relate. You have no idea how many sad posts I’ve written and then erased the whole thing.

  15. THIS was an excellent post, neil.
    you hit the nail on the head.

  16. why is it that only the people who get 80 comments a day, always say that just one comment means the most?

  17. You’re right. It’s not about how many comments but about being heard. We all want to be heard. We all want validation. No one wants to feel alone.

    *hug*

  18. I’ve written several posts lately that I’ve decided not to publish. Too serious, too controversial, blah blah blah.

    But I did write one that made me think of your blog, a spoof a certain genre of novel. I’ll be posting in Wednesday night, hope you stop by.

  19. Cruisin Mom — so true! That’s funny. Like if I just blogged for one person, I would happy with that. I ain’t Mother Theresa. I want tons of readers for the good posts. It was just nice showing someone a heartfelt but shitty one without having to post it to everyone. Believe me, it wasn’t that good. I could email you a copy to prove it if I could find it.

    Memarie — I will, thanks.

  20. I love your open and honest posts. i love your goofy ones too, but I especially appreciate it when you’re more real and expressive. I wish more men would be like that. it would take the guess work out of relationships.

  21. Churlita — yeah, you say you like the emotional man, but then you complain when he cries all over your pillow during sex.

  22. I’m having trouble not judging my worth by comment number, but I think I’m getting over it, slowly. But sometimes all it takes is that connection with one person to get the high of double digit comments. Great insight.

  23. The utility of the internet and the joy of it are two different things, aren’t they?

  24. I know EXACTLY what you mean. I used to think the more comments I got, the better I’d feel…very cool, very amazing….until I had to make my blog private.

    It’s then when I realized that sharing my posts and purging my soul with just a few Bloggers STILL made me feel better…that it didn’t matter if I had one comment or one hundred.

  25. What a beautiful post.

    Although, I’d say the real power is in one “listener”, whatever form the hearing what you have to say takes.

  26. sometimes you just need to let it all out on paper. doesn’t matter if it gets published or even if someone else reads it. glad you wrote what you had to wrote, even if only one other person saw it.

    now how about that sex post?

  27. oops, you’ve already posted that one. maybe i should hang out here more.

  28. i’m so glad that your mom is so loving and supportive. she sounds wonderful.

    wishing you lots of wisdom and courage for all the decisions that are to come.

  29. It’s hard to explain how something static like a blog can become so interactive and real. How your readers, how you feel you know people.

    Totally ok to be sad, btw.

  30. Blogging is a way of reaching out, and often it is much easier to tell a complete stranger how you feel than the person next to you. For some of us, blogging is also a way to cut through sometimes alienating loneliness… Chin up!

  31. Jesus. It’s epidemic. Possibly pandemic. I just got over it, but I’m reading other “sad” posts today. Well, at least we’re a brotherhood, right? – Feel better Neil. : )

  32. Amen. Sometimes, though, it gets even better when you hit that publish button and you have people tell you their sadness or give you advice or tell you that you are not alone. That feels good, too.

  33. Amazing…. I have been going through something similar and I can totally relate to this post… thanks for sharing!

    I think the thought of writing about sex is a great one… rock on, blog on and feel what you feel when you feel it!

  34. Glad you wrote that you were sad, something must have been up astrologically cause I was down, too, and now finding out many other ppl were too.
    Thanks

  35. The connection is what is important.

  36. That is really all it takes most days. That’s what makes life sweet.

  37. Neil, never underestimate the power of ONE! ONE isn’t the loneliest number as you found out it was all you needed. Cheers!

  38. Go to NY. Come back, get a nice roommate, one with a social life and single friends.

    Unsolicited Advice from Yours Truly,

  39. I know exactly what you mean. This happens to me when I’m on my period. I feel like I want to announce “I’m on my period.” But then I realize I don’t need EVERYONE to know about it, just one person would be enough. If it’s okay with you, from now on you’ll be my one person. You’re one of my Facebook contacts, so I’ll just poke you when I’m on my period. You’ll know what that means, since I’ll never poke at any other time.

    The good news is that I’m on a birth control called Seasonale, which keeps me taking the pill for three months straight, so that I only have a period every three months. That’s how often you’ll get a poke from me.

    Thanks, Neil!

  40. Thanks, all. And Karla, I’d be honored to be your go-to “I’m having my period” guy!

  41. You say writing about sex helps get rid of the blues? I am going to try that out next time. And then let you read it first.

  42. Go to New York! Now is a nice time…spring weather. Go have some great NY Chinese food with your mother and you won’t have to worry about the last shrimp. (I remember that old article you wrote, ha,ha.) Hey, things could be worse. If your grandparents hadn’t left Russia, not only would you not be here, you wouldn’t have been born at all since most Jews from our shtetls didn’t survive the Nazis. Great blog btw. And love Matzo Brei recipe. You can always call me sometime, but call your mother. Thought about you and Sophia during Passover, but can’t get you on the phone. Be well.

  43. Nicely said. Now you know why I got a puppy.

  44. Neil…it is no accident you have way more than ONE reader…your writing touches our funny bones and our hearts…ONE. AT. A. TIME.

  45. Crusin — But you made a cogent point. I like the fact that you dug through some of the pretense. Never trust anyone fully when then make broad statements.

  46. Neil, is Uncle Miltie for real?
    This line is brilliant and right out of a script: You can always call me sometime, but call your mother.

    (In my mind, I can even give that line to a female and “hear” Renee Taylor, who used to play “Ma” on The Nanny, saying it)

    Listen to Uncle Miltie. call your mother. (BTW, I think every Jewish family has a something-Miltie. I had a cousin Miltie.)

  47. awww, thanks Neil…NOW will you finally meet me?

  48. Pearl — Uncle Miltie is for real.

    Cruisin’ — Yes, I’m aware we had a hot date like eight months ago, and then never met.

  49. Life is a terrible and beautiful place to be. Your job as a writer is to be awake to all of it. Your only job though, for today, dear Neilochka, is to keep breathing.

  50. I totally get this post. Amen and amen.

  51. hmmm. I don’t think I have 300 comments in total.

    But I do have a bunch of posts that only got one response, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

  52. Non-Highlighted Heather

    April 30, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t come back because you make me laugh. I don’t come back because you write wonderfully entertaining stories. I don’t come back because you write in support of size 14 girls. I don’t come back because you put on a wicked holiday show.

    I come back because I like Neil. Plain. Simple.

  53. I write so many that never see the light of the computer screen. Sometimes you just need to write it and get it out. Sorry you were feeling sad; glad you’re not now.

  54. Sad is not suicidal. Sad is ok. And we wouldn’t know sad if we didn’t know happy. Damn, I gotta embroider that. (And I am validated not by the comments but when someone reads my blog and sends me an e-mail of love and support and comfort. Some things are just more personal that way!) New York sounds fun. I’ve been a little sad lately. Take me to New York!

  55. You IM with your readers? Damn. I’m still in the blog stone age.

  56. i like your writing on this level, it seems human and authentic.

    glad you aren’t sad anymore, altho technically being sad is just as important as being happy.

    i request permission to use “a pedestrian sadness”. in fact, it should get it’s own place somewhere like dooce.

  57. It’s good sometimes just to be heard.

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