I drop to my knees, ejaculating on the planks of my fortune, and exhale. I am breathing again, alive, electrified roots singing, man, singing, man, sweet angel of merciless shock, singing, this is better than anything, singing take everything, everything I have, everything I am, just do not touch this moment of bliss.

I was in my early twenties, a blooming writer with an oral fixation. After sexing up the page with a literary ode to the nicotine fix coupled with the rigours of a coughing fit, it hit me that it was time for me to get smart, off my knees, and while still young, my fellow smokers, try to quit.

gauloise-caporal-937077925_MLLater that evening, I was deep-throating a Gauloise in the park, contemplating the masterpiece I had yet to write, when my pal Mark told me he’d jump naked into the freezing fountain if I would dump my snotty French cigs forever, that very moment, that very night.

The stars above blinked this is it, and with one finger on my zeitgeist, my good friend unbuttoned his shirt and unzipped. A dark cloud rolled over my teeming brain as I imagined writing my life’s work without the burning butts I held so dear; I stared into the murky water, my future, and saw only fear. Mark rolled his eyes, dropped his pants and said, don’t think.

Don’t think??!! What the fuck does a writer do between words? What do you think we do all day? Type??! And unless you wish us neutered and dim, don’t you freaking ever tell a writer not to think.

It took me six weeks before I could spell again, six fidgety weeks before I could sit down at my desk and compose a legible word without my Benson & Hedges (extra-long for unwieldy sentences). Forty-two days of mind boggle, chewing ideas, food and my nails to the quick, with the only question mark I could muster: when the hell would this writers’ block shit ever end? Then, finally, exhausted beyond words, I bound my ass to the chair, grabbed some scrap paper beside my keyboard and lit up a felt-tipped pen.

'Smoke-free' by Brenda Keesal

‘Smoke-free’ by Brenda Keesal


May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. Here’s your chance!

For more of my musings on writing, click A Writer is Born,  Between the Lines and On Writing.


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