Years and years ago, I used to smoke. I know, pretty gross. I started when I was about 11 years old (it was the 80’s dammit) and I was maybe 26 or 27 when I stopped. I didn’t smoke steadily thru all those years, sometimes I would go a year or two without touching them and then relapse back again, mostly because I was around a lot of smokers all the time. But its been over ten years now since I quit.
I especially used to smoke a lot while writing. Even now when I write I sometimes still get the occasional urge to light up a cigarette. Not a craving for nicotine, that passed over a decade ago. And definitely not for the smell or taste, which I find completely repulsive now. But just for the ritual of it. It was an integral part of the writing process for me. When I was thinking of the next sentence or trying to find that perfect word or phrase, I would put down my pen or, once I got a computer, lean back from the keyboard and light up a cigarette and smoke until I was ready to continue writing.
I never feel like smoking at any other time other than when I’m writing tho. I would never actually take up smoking again, even if I thought it would help me write. I can’t stand cigarettes or cigarette smoke. The smell of it actually makes me nauseous now. I avoid smokers like the plague. Very few of my friends or family members smoke and nobody is allowed to smoke inside my house. If I am forced to spend time in a smokey environment I have to go home and take a shower afterwards to get the smell off. So there is no danger of me ever becoming a smoker again.
But I wish there was a way for me to recreate that ritual that’s less disgusting and wont give me cancer. I know some people substitute candy or something, but because I also have a compulsive eating problem, replacing the cigarettes with something like lollipops will only result in me eating the whole package of lollipops and not getting any writing done at all. I don’t want to replace one unhealthy writing ritual with another. Especially since I have the activity level and metabolic rate of a boulder.
I think I need something tho. As somebody with OCD, rituals and systematic processes to doing things are a very important part of getting anything done. And I think that may be part of the reason I am having so much trouble writing. I have no process anymore. I always had a process, whether it was a time of day, or the place I sat, or smoking a cigarette, or using the same pen and notebook, there was always something. The closest thing I have to a process right now is the creative writing group I go to twice a month. Which is really the only time I can guarantee that I will definitely get any writing done. But, lets face it, I’m not gonna get a book written writing for an hour twice a month, not unless I want to be writing it until im eighty.
At the moment I also have no writing space that’s just mine to write in. I have my office, but its in complete disarray right now. Last spring I packed all my belongings up so the room could be used temporarily as a bedroom by my daughter and her husband, and even before that it was more a guest room then an office. There was always a bed in there and since at least one of my children lived with my ex-husband at any given time, that room was used by them whenever they came to visit. And it looks like I might possibly have to re-pack it up in the near future to use as a bedroom again, which is why I havent bothered to finish unpacking it. So it’s still never really been my own space. In a house as small as mine, personal space is very hard for me to come by. And I need a space that is mine to do things my way. As an only child with two working parents and virtually no friends, I grew up alone with a lot of privacy and personal space in which I could do pretty much whatever I wanted in whatever way I wanted to do it with very little outside interference. I know it’s not realistic to expect that kind of space and freedom when I live with so many people.
But right now everything is chaos.
And I need something to enable me to write again. I just have to figure out what it is.