the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Just Thinking About Writing

I’m a bit constricted by my blog at times.  I look around and see that most of the well-known personal blogs revolve around that blogger’s day-to-day life.   I know that is obvious.  I’m just noting that these writers rarely deviate from their theme.  They use their blog as a journal or diary.  These bloggers let you into their world, warts and all, until you feel as if you know their family — and you care about them.  The best of these blogs, like Dooce, are  well-written and honest. 

I’ve never kept a diary.  It always seemed boring to me.  And I sometimes have trouble being honest.  I’m not a liar.  Well, I am.  I don’t only lie to you.  I lie to myself.  That’s why I’m in therapy.  So, in a way, my lying to you is being very honest.  Get it?

I try to write about reality.  Most everything in this blog, including my conversations with my Penis, is rooted in reality.  I find it interesting that my favorite posts are almost never YOUR favorite posts.  You seem to love when I write in an honest, diary style.   You feel as if I connected with you because I revealed some private truth.   It’s as if personal blogging is supposed to be the private become public, and dammit – he won me over with the admission that his mother washed his mouth out with soap.  It doesn’t really matter that I spent twice as long crafting something really silly.  The comedy never wins the Oscar.

Even if I were completely fact-based about my day to day life, I’m not sure I can effectively capture “me” through the details.  What actually happened today — May 1, 2008?  Sophia got a flat tire on the freeway and I came to her rescue.  I bought a new tire for her car and had a cup of coffee in Denny’s.  I arranged to meet with a producer.  I spoke to my mother.  This is all fun stuff, but most of the REALLY interesting events occurred in my head.  I got annoyed about “blog badges” and wrote my last sarcastic post.  I went on Craig’s List and wondered about apartment hunting.  I wondered how Carly from American Idol was managing.  I made a note to write a post someday about Brian Dunkleman (remember him — the comedian who co-hosted American Idol with Ryan Seacrest in season one!). I wonder if he is still pissed or if he was able to move on to a happy life.  I worried about this headache that I’ve had for three days, and tried not to become a hypochondriac, fearing it is a tumor or something horrible.

Am I  presenting a clear picture of my personality, and does it even matter?  I had an IM conversation with someone last week who seemed to be under the impression that I was some sort of Lothario having sex chats with women in every American city.  When do I have time?!   Truthfully, online sex chats would be too difficult for me because I would feel obligated, as a writer, not to be cliched.  How many unique ways are there to say, “So, are you unbuttoning your blouse now?”

Me:  “My hand is touching you…”

Her:  “Here?”

Me:  “Yes, there… but that’s not very descriptive.  Let me go on Wikipedia and look up what it is actually called in the  English language.   Also, I already used “touching you” twice already.  There must be some other way of saying that!”

Her:  “OK, enough.  I had my orgasm.  Thanks.  Bye.”

 I would feel too much literary performance anxiety to have any fun. 

I present myself as a nice Jewish boy who’s calling his mother every day, and then the next day I’m f**king four women in my bedroom.  Who am I?   I’m not sure I really know exactly who I am, so why should you?

But let me just stick to the blog — my writing.  Would be better to focus more on the reality in my life, or continue writing whatever shit comes to my mind?  The inconsistency of this blog’s tone must be very frustrating for some readers. 

I can also go the other way — not caring about you, the reader, at all.   That could be refreshing.  That would probably be the most honest approach.   I could explore different facets of my personality.  I could write a post like I was a woman.  I’d like to imagine what it would be like to give birth.  Would that be weird for you?  I’d like to be racist or nasty and say things that I don’t really believe, but not worry about your reaction. Why do I always have to write about what I believe?  It might be more fun to write about someone else’s beliefs. 

I’d like to finish a post without having to make the ending work.


  1. Backpacking Dad

    Wait, you weren’t serious about the badges?

    Dammit. I was waiting for “Shockingly Handsome Hilarious Dad Bloggers”.

    And your multiple-personality-disorder blog is all in your head (ha!). You actually present a very consistent voice. I always know that it is Neil talking to me, and each crazy post is just further Neil-nuance, not Neil-inconsistency.

    I’m not frustrated. I have a writer-blogger-dude-crush.

    Oops. Too much zin, baby. Too much zin.

  2. Kelliqua

    I like all sides of you.

    Don’t change a thing.

  3. By Jane

    Yeah, I agree with Backpacking Dad–your voice is pretty consistent. My sense is that you spend too much time trying to be popular, to run with the cool kids. I don’t think there are any cool kids. I think there are just people doing their stuff and people wishing they could do that stuff too.

  4. savia

    I say write what you want. I like reading whatever it is you put out there.

    And I’m pretty sure writer-blogger-dude-crushes are now called “bromances”. I learn this lingo from the lame local morning radio show.

  5. wendy

    Don’t you DARE change a thing… I love you all the time…but when you are help me fall asleep…

    I have to go now.. I’m’s it.. I, IN NO WAY…feel the least bit drowsy….

  6. Neil

    By Jane — You’re right. Damn stupid cool kids. And really, they just want to be my friend so they can copy my homework assignments,

    Wendy, that’s exactly what you said during our IM conversation!

  7. Artful Kisser

    I’m pretty lax in commenting given I read all your posts. I read precisely because I never know what you’re going to come up with next and yet it’s consistently top notch Neilochka – whether you’re up, down or indiferent. I’d still read even if you were just writing about the lint in your bellybutton. I dunno what that says about me…

  8. SAJ

    You are never boring. And me too on the why do endings always have to work thing!! Sometimes they just don’t and it drives me crazy.

  9. Whit

    Don’t go changin’ to try and please me. I love you just the way you are.

  10. Backpacking Dad

    Wow. Whit BJ’d all over your blog, dude.

  11. ingrid

    for what it’s worth, along with the voices above me, i love your blog. inconsistency r us. yay! 🙂 go with your impulses, we love you for it. (oh, wait… )

  12. Kathy

    I hear you. I’ve never kept a diary, and there’s no way I can make the minutiae of my daily life sound interesting.

  13. kapgar

    Hey Neil, I’m unbuttoning my blouse for you. 😉

  14. Kyra

    You know, I think you should just write what you want. Plain and simple. 🙂

    My blog bounces all over the place for that reason.

  15. AnnieH

    If you’re not the Lothario having sex chats with women in every American city then who the hell have I been talking to?? Some freaky interloper?? A Neilochka wanna-be??
    Please keep the so-crazy-it’s-funny-angst-of-living in Citizen of the Month. You have a gift of touching the unspoken vulnerable spot in all of us. As for me, I don’t need to read about someone’s daily life…I get plenty of the down and dirty of other people’s daily life in my job and desperately need a laugh every other day.
    BTW, want to read your take on childbirth–I was kinda working that day and my kids are acting like they don’t know what went on. I am counting on you to fill in the fuzzy details. :-)AnnieH

  16. gorillabuns

    Brian Dunkelman was on Celebrity Fit Club on VH1 recently. I never figured out what he was doing with his life other than getting married.

    I love your unexpected posts though I must admit, I’m not sure if you are kidding or not at times, ex. the last post.

    Why change what you do so well? To fit in with the “cool kids?” I find your style way more interesting and insightful than most.

  17. Neil

    Oh come on, surely someone thinks I totally suck. I hate these lovefests on other blogs.

    On the other hand, does this mean I actually CAN start having sex chats with some of the hotter female readers?

    Gorillabuns — I take offense at you thinking that I am so shallow to care only about the cool kids. Ok, so maybe I link to Whoorl on every other post. I assure it has nothing to do with that recent New York Times article about her. I hate her.

  18. DaveX

    I think that generally it’s best to feel free to write whatever you want, and I’ve whipped out the “It’s my blog, like it or leave it” card a couple times…

    On the other hand, I’ll admit that I enjoy your less-distanced posts best. Sometimes, I get the feeling that you’re posting less about you to keep us back. Obviously, it’s hard to tell for sure, but since you brought this topic up I’m sharing.

  19. cog

    Every couple weeks or so I go through a “Blog Identity Crisis,” usually brought on by visiting one of the A-listers or by noticing again that my little Feedburner animation thing continues to report that I have zero subscribers.

    And I wonder what I can do to be more like the good bloggers, and less like the inconsistent/lazy/pointless blogger I am.

    It always turns out the same; I end up deciding that in order for me to be like them, I can’t be like me, and frankly that’s too much work. I have to be me.

    I’d write more, but I have to go ponder how utterly ludicrous it is for me to be offering you blogging advice.

  20. Neil

    DaveX — Yes, naturally I do think about readers and not losing them in self-absorbed morbid posts. I guess I could turn the tables on some of you. Although the majority of you are telling me that I should just write whatever I want, I can ask YOU the same question. Why don’t YOU write about whatever you want? I direct this question particularly to those who have a niche blog — such as my arch rivals — the mommybloggers. Do you enjoy having a specific umbrella under which to write — meaning, a focus on your life with your children? Do you sometimes NOT write a post about all the lint you found in your belly button because you don’t think it fits into your theme? Are you doing this so YOU fit in with your peers? Would YOU rather just write anything that is on your mind, even if you knew your readership would be bored with your love for auto repair?

    Also — sarcastic email from my mother, calling me out on being dishonest:

    “I like the part of the blog when you say you call me every day. Must be another number. Also if you have headaches every day you should go to doctor to see what it is.”

  21. fringes

    The best of these blogs, like Dooce…

    Who are you?

  22. Caitlinator

    Timely post, Neil, at least in my own life. I’ve been having a blog identity crisis for the last two years. It’s hard to resolve, because you’re right: people have many facets and there is never just one bucket to fall into. So many things define us. Yet on the web, the fewer buckets we present to the world, the better we are received. You say Dooce does pulls off the identity thing well, that she presents herself as herself… do you really believe that’s true? I’m willing to lay money down that she discriminates what she posts, too.

    I’m beginning to think that writing isn’t just about laying yourself out bare for the world to see, but doing it in a way that is exciting and easy to relate to. Maybe that means we let little pieces of ourselves go in the process, but is it such a bad thing to hold certain things private and special and unknown except to the select few who matter? I’m starting to think that an online persona is not such a bad thing, as long as we’re confident with who we are in reality and honest with our readers about who and what that persona actually represents.

  23. AnnieH

    1. Agree with your mom if the headaches are new. Go directly and immediately to ER if “worst headache of my life”–which, of course has its own acronym-WHAOL-in hospital charting.
    2. I don’t even examine the lint in my dryer, not looking for any more.
    3.You might try a bottle of Gatorade for the headache in case you are a little low on fluids–can give you a constant dull ache.

  24. DaveX

    I like my niche, but that’s probably because I have an obsessive personality. I really DO think about this stuff all day long, so its completely natural for me to write about it, too. I’ll toss this out– I don’t like Dooce much at all. She bores the bejeezus out of me, because it all seems too phony, too cutesy and well-thought-out. There’s that line between “let’s go do something fun” and “let’s go do something that would be great for my blog,” and I think she crosses it. The end effect is only different from Martha Stewart in terms of style. If you’re holding your blog up to hers, and you’re more concerned with substance over profit, you might look elsewhere for a role model.

  25. Neil

    Fringes — I’ve gotten over my Dooce days. There are bigger enemies out there. She pretty much writes her stuff and people like it. I’m thinking all the marketing stuff that is coming into blogging is worse.

  26. Suburban Turmoil

    I have the same issues you do. Some of the funniest posts I think I’ve written have WAAAYYYY fewer comments than the personal, angsty stuff. But you know what? The traffic stays the same. I’m just guessing people have less to say to a funny post- They simply read and enjoy it. But if you’re writing something angsty and personal, they feel compelled to give you a virtual pat on the back.

    So basically, if you want lots of feedback, go the personal route. If you don’t really give a damn about feedback, write whatever the hell you want. The beauty is that you can change your mind depending on your mood that day. Sometimes, I like to read comments. Sometimes, I just want to write something bizarre.

  27. Memarie Lane

    Thing is, most of the people that write about themselves have interesting lives. If I wrote about my life my computer would crash out of sheer boredom. Blogging is my escapism.

  28. Noelle

    I’m never going to win a webby, so I like the badges. They’re like the “thanks for showing up” awards of my youth. (aka: the only awards I ever won.)

    Yeah, write about whatever the fuck you want. If you offend me, I’ll take you off my reader. Of course, I’m waiting with baited breath for the flat tire story details.

  29. churlita

    It’s good to switch up your writing on your blog. Reading about the same thing all the time gets boring.

    I know you can’t help it, because by your own admission, you’re people pleaser, but you should just say f*#@ it and write whatever you want.

  30. natalie

    yeah…i understand the whole thinking about writing thing. lately i seem to be posting a lot of crap…pictures and short little posts that make me smile, but not much i consider real writing. after taking a beating about being too transparent on my blog from some close friends and family i am almost scared to write anything. i’ll get over it though. i don’t have a penis, and i don’t write about my vagina…i still wonder what they had issues with!

  31. k

    I find it interesting that my favorite posts are almost never YOUR favorite posts.

    What are you basing this on?

    And Brian Dunkleman has said that leaving American Idol was the worst decision of his life. Sad.

  32. John

    Great post as usual Neil. I think most diary-themed blogs reveal “shades” of the real person, but different shades and never the big picture. Mine does that (or at least that’s my intention). And I often exaggerate for effect, to entertain, and I’ve said that several times. I’ve posted some really personal stuff too; stuff that I’m somewhat embarrassed about making public. But personally, I view that as almost a responsibility of a blogger. My view is if you have a “diary” blog and you’re not going to let yourself be vulnerable and expose your weaknesses for all to see, your blog is a cop-out. You’re not being honest. And you’re not a real blogger.

  33. Ariel

    It’s blogging, not commercial writing dictated by a brief. Blogging is whatever you want it to be – some blogs pander to an audience while others are a way for the blogger to gain some clarity and reach out to others… It’s YOUR blog, it can be anything you like. I often think of it as some sort of ‘word lab’ in my case, somewhere where I try and articulate what is going on in my life.

  34. Jenn, aka JeSais

    blog what you want to blog when you want to blog…. and do it because YOU love it, not your audience. bottom line you can’t please everyone, and the only one you have control over is yourself.

  35. Kerri Anne

    “The comedy never wins the Oscar.” Not YET, but oh how I am holding out hope that it will someday.

  36. Anika

    I always wonder if I should be more consistent with my blogging voice or if I should write about the mundane details of my daily life. Perhaps I’d have more readers! As for your blog, it’s fabulous, and your readers love it. Don’t change a thing!

  37. HeyJoe

    This I get. I often feel my blog is too…I don’t know, scattered and unfocused? It seems most of the GOOD blogs are very personal and honest, which keeps people vested. But I feel uncomfortable being too personal and honest so I write essentially about nothing, which doesn’t always make for an interesting blog.

    I wish I had the courage to write that way, but there are always “others” to consider and not everyone wants there life up for examination.

  38. cruisin-mom

    Hey Joe…just remember, writing about nothing worked for that guy, Seinfeld. (I like your blog).
    Neil, I love you, well not LOVE you, but love you, because everyday is something new with you.
    Oh, and by the way:

  39. piglet

    personally, i like what you refer to as “the inconsistency”. somehow, it seems to all flow together.

  40. better safe than sorry

    lol, your mother is hilarious!
    i have a gf that i talk to/see almost every day who read my blog (when i blogged) and she told me she missed my writing, which i didn’t understand because she actually knew what was happening in my life, so why did she need to read about it? i think the way you write shares a little something about yourself you might not even realize, maybe it’s your overall outlook on life and yourself that comes through in how you decide to write about every day occurrences, if that even makes any sense? i think your blog shows that you’re a person, good days, bad days, everyone has them, everyone can relate. now i must go and read about those badges.

  41. V-Grrrl

    I think I prefer to write about my life, but I no longer feel free to do that anymore.

    I lost 80 percent of my readers when I quit telling “my story” and started sharing “art moments” instead.

    I have a subscription only e-blog for readers who want the personal stuff.

    Sometimes I consider being a blog drop out, but I doubt that will happen. I like the way blogs evolve and change.

  42. Baroness von Bloggenschtern

    Once again, I pop in and see that I’m at the end of a very long list of readers who seem to appreciate what you’re doing. While I won’t go all Summer of Love on you, I will say that it’s refreshing to see something different from you every day. You may not think it, but to me at least, you appear to be showing different facets of your beliefs. As for the peronal stuff, I guess everyone want to connect somehow. And that’s what chicks do – they glean who you are by what you’re willing to reveal.

    As for the blog ending struggle – I hear you – it took me two hours to figure out how to end this sad little comment!

  43. HRH @ June Cleaver Nirvana

    Where IS Brian Dunkleman?

    I identify with the popular posts vs. things I like to write and then read myself over again because it makes me laugh. I think there should be a way of weeding your blog audience to only people who “get it”. That way the popular posts are your favorites. That way the comments make sense. That way you would have the freedom to write whatever crap was funny to you that day. That way my readership would be like 2 people in Siberia. Nevermind. Scratch that.

    Oh, and why doesn’t the comedy win the Oscar? Sometimes this world is so wrong.

  44. cruisin-mom

    HRH: scroll up a few and read my comment re: Brian D.
    Also, I think Kevin Kline won an Oscar for his role in a Fish Called Wanda, a comedy, which was pretty surprising at the time.

  45. Pearl

    It’s good to just blow off one’s own normal constraints of what people expect.

    I know what you mean about things I think are great get not a word and things I trot off thinking is lame people like. Bah, people, there’s only pleasing them.

    Write for you Neil. That’s where the heart of purpose is.

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