by Julia Buckley
When my husband and I were engaged, I said something both emotional and unfair: that I wouldn't marry him unless he quit smoking. I doubt that this was true, but he took me at my word and quit cold turkey on January 1st, 1988. I remember sitting with him in a downtown Chicago restaurant, watching the sweat from his palms drip onto the table during that very difficult weekend of withdrawal. He did that for me, and for himself, and he hasn't smoked since.
We were talking about that today (I dragged him away from his beloved Sun-Times), and I said I thought it was rather remarkable that he had been able to simply stop smoking, when so many of my friends and relatives can't seem to do it.
He thought about it, and said, "I think quitting smoking has to be about something bigger than just wanting to do it."
I thought that was very meaningful, and naturally I thought it related nicely to the world of writing. Writers want to write, of course. But that great book, that successful book, will have to be about more than just wanting to write it. Bruce Barton once wrote that "Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances." I think the writer must feel this; while the tendency might be to think that what he or she is creating is not good, is not working, is not going to be successful (writers do talk themselves down, don't they?), the reality is that writers have a unique opportunity to succeed and to affect others. They must find in themselves what is superior to their circumstances.
Meanwhile, I asked Jeff to verify his quote. "What was it you said about smoking?" I asked.
"I don't know," he said, still reading the paper. "But I know it was super profound."
Hey, I never asked him to give up his ego. :)