T-Minus Tomorrow: Why I Am Quitting and What I Am Afraid Of

How bittersweet these punctuations
of flame and gesture;
but the best were on those mornings
when I would have a little something going
in the typewriter,
the sun bright in the windows,
maybe some Berlioz on in the background.
I would go into the kitchen for coffee
and on the way back to the page,
curled in its roller,
I would light one up and feel
its dry rush mix with the dark taste of coffee.

~Billy Collins, The Last Cigarette [segment]

I just made myself a cup of coffee and it’s 4:30 AM. I have 3 cigarettes left, 2 Djarum Specials and 1 hand-rolled Drum. I will go to sleep after this blog goes live and when I awake, I will be a non-smoker.
I’ve been a non-smoker before. Just a couple of weeks ago I was a non-smoker for 5 days. The longest I ever quit for was about 3 months. I think it was for a girl (yuck). Oh, but this coffee is good. And methinks it will be triply good with one of my last smokes.
18 years now. It’s been 18 years. I have smoked for more than half of my life.
Here’s what I looked like when I first started smoking at 16:

Me, a smoker at 16

Here’s me now. I was still smoking when this picture was taken.

Me. 18 years later and still smoking.

Tomorrow, I will talk more in-depth about my smoking history. For now, let’s just say that I’m afraid of what tomorrow brings. I am not worried about withdrawal. I have gone through that many times before. I’m not worried about keeping myself busy.

What worries me most is that, over the last 18 years, I have attached smoking with my creativity. This is presently a HUGE problem for me. I have 2 novels that I’m loving and much much more in the works. When I think about writing, I think about smoking.

A few months back, I asked a good friend of mine why he hasn’t quit smoking yet. His answer was beautiful:

Everytime I smoke, I feel like I’m 16 again

But I’m a dad now. I’m not 16. I have a gorgeous wife who actually likes me. You’d think the decision would be easier. It’s still not.

That’s all I have to say about all that. If you read this blog you can keep up with my progress. If you smoke and write and can’t picture one without the other, I hope you get something out of this. I can’t find ANYTHING anywhere that talks about how to overcome your writer’s block while quitting smoking. Stephen King said in On Writing that it took him a month after he quit to start writing again.

I don’t have a month. My second packet is due in a few weeks.

I gotta go smoke my last smokes. I’m going to start with the clove. I’ll end with the Drum.

P.S. I promise you that this blog will not only be about smoking. I have many other ideas for it. I will try to update my music pretty regularly. Plus I gotta tidy the site up quite a bit.

P.P.S. If anybody reads this and wants to A) Give me suggestions or B) Cheer me on…great. There’s just one thing you have to do for me in exchange. Tell me one bad habit you have.

Till then,



20 thoughts on “T-Minus Tomorrow: Why I Am Quitting and What I Am Afraid Of

  1. You are an intrepid soul Ben Eckley. I have no advice, however enjoy the Djarum for me. That was always my clove of choice when I was in my social smoking dayz and when I’m in my nostalgic dayz. 🙂 All the best on your journey friend!

    • Heidi….Isn’t workaholism sort of like answering the job interview question with “My greatest weakness is that I always accept challenges. And never turn back until I finish. And I love people too much.”?

      I know your many weaknesses. I could write a whole blog on them. Hmmmm…maybe I will. Maybe, I will.

  2. …just pleased to pull attention from the cost of turning
    to that ember,
    It is real, and it is burning.

    I think that’s my real reason. Good luck, my friend. NSS asked after you today(!)

  3. Oh no–did you already smoke the last ones? I was going to say that you could spread them out, rather than quitting cold. I heard someone say he quit by, each time, going a little longer between cigarettes. I’ve also heard Wellbutrin is supposed to help with addictive tendencies (smoking, gambling, and even binge-eating). It’s like a vitamin for the brain.

    My stupidest bad habit: Pushing the snooze button over and over and over, erstwhile convincing myself that I really only need 30 minutes to get ready…well, actually, I only need 20 minutes to get ready…no, seriously, I’m sure I can do it in 10 minutes because there probably won’t be much traffic today… Wait–what?! How am I late again?!

  4. “I’m going to start with the clove. I’ll end with the Drum.” Well-played, sir.

    (I, by the way, have no bad habits and never have.)

Go ahead, you can tell me.

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