The Journal: Cigars Are on the Way Out

In today’s Journal

* June slipped away
* My Cigars Are on the Way Out (sigh)
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Wow, June slipped away from me. For some reason I confused it with July and thought it had 31 days. My spreadsheet’s all fixed now, after I pawed frantically at my keyboard before I’d even had my coffee.

Well, apparently either I or my cigars are on the way out. My BP has my doc worried, so yesterday I canceled my email newsletter from my cigar providers, etc. (My take? It’s always been high, so whatever.)

Anyway, my plan is to quit around August 1 or a little later when my current supply is exhausted. Yes, I hope I can “cut down” between now and then, which will extend the date of stopping completely and maybe make it “easier” to stop when I do.

But all of this has me considering the vaunted Quality of Life, and of course the definition differs for each individual.

Quality of Life seems always to involve a tradeoff. For some, simply continuing to breathe for a longer period of time, even if steeped in a mental fog, is enough. Or lowering the “risk” of stroke is “worth it” even if they have to give up the ability to function mentally for an extended period of time, and maybe forever.

The last time I quit cigars I was off them for a month. And I could have kept going. After all, to smoke, you have to take a series of small actions that require physical effort: obtain what you want to smoke, position it between your lips, put fire to the end of it, etc. Remove any of those actions and you can’t smoke.

But I was in a heavy, thick mental fog the whole time. I was continually confused and unable to function mentally. I went back to cigars because Day 30 or so without them, long after the physical cravings had passed, was as bad as Day 1, and going back to them was the only way to clear the fog.

(When I stopped smoking cigarettes several years earlier there was no mental fog and the cravings died away relatively quickly. I naively thought quitting cigars would be the same. It isn’t.)

And that’s where Quality of Life comes in. I’m a fiction writer. I literally (no pun intended) live to tell the next story.

So in coming months I’ll have a decision to make. Forewarned by my earlier experience, I intend to put up with the fog for at least a month while hoping day by day it will clear. A month in—if it lasts that long, and fingers crossed it won’t—I’ll continue, still hoping day by day it will clear.

Of course, during that time, I’ll sit down and try to access my creative subconscious, try to write. If I can, good. With any luck, I’ll enter a new personal “normal.” If I can’t, well, then I’ll either find a way to clear the fog or, barring that, maybe I’ll go fishing. I guess either one is Quality of Life. Just a very different life.

For now, I’ll be working to finish The Comancheros, and I should be able to turn out two more novels before August 31. Maybe even three. We’ll see.

As an aside for those interested in the numbers, I’m a little annoyed with myself. This is the first time I’ve had a real shot at writing a million words of fiction in a year. With exactly 1/2 of the year gone, I’m currently sitting at 528,679 words of fiction. So I only have to write another 471,521 words to hit my big goal. (That’s only an average of 2577 words per day every day for the rest of the year.)

Of course, I’ll still give it a shot, but the odds against me just went way up. Which leaves me pondering another question: Which is better, a goal deferred and therefore still a goal or a goal achieved, the personal betterment of which requires setting a new, higher goal?

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Day One” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 690 words

Writing of WCGN2: The Comancheros (novel)

Day 10… 3220 words. Total words to date…… 28916

Total fiction words for July……… 3220
Total fiction words for the year………… 531899
Total nonfiction words for July… 980
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 126770
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 658669

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 63
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

2 thoughts on “The Journal: Cigars Are on the Way Out”

  1. Harvey — Just seeing this now but I loved cigars. Smoked the best of the best from 2011 up until September of 2020. I quit cold turkey and never went back. What finally did it was watching my Dad bravely battle lung cancer. I went to his apartment to bring him a sugary drink he was craving and watched him unable to swallow it because tumors developed in his esophagus. Instead, he was forced to swish the drink around in his mouth for some flavor before spitting it out. I went right home and gathered my cigars and sold them to a buddy. Threw my humidor, cutters, and lighters in the trash. It’s not that I’m scared of cancer, and God knows I have other health problems, it’s that every time I think of lighting up, I think of my Dad’s pain and how I miss him now so much.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks, Phillip. I wonder whether you spent some time in that thick mental fog as a result, and if so, roughly how long? Email me separately if you want.

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