Do you smoke?

Miss Snark is not going to wag a finger in your face ... Miss Snark has enough vices of her own, thank you.

Do you smoke in the same room you write? How about the same room where you store your printer and manuscript paper?

Moments ago I opened an envelope in my never-ending pile o'slush. The odor was not overwhelming but it was definitely noticeable. And nasty. Old ashtrays. Down at the heels barrooms. Derelicts who need a bath. NYC subways.

The paper was crisp and clean, the prose was ok, but nothing fancy. All I wanted to do was burn it.

Smell is a big trigger for memory. You know this. It's why the scent of the perfume you wore when you first danced with your true love recalls that night in vivid detail. It's why chocolate chip cookies in the oven make you feel safe. It's why you'll never use certain shampoos again.

If you smoke, the scent adheres to the paper. There's a stiff no smoking law in NYC now. Smokers huddle in doorways (despite signs telling them to stand out in the rain) and grab quick puffs as they come up the subway stairs. The smell of cigarettes and tobacco doesn't have good associations for most of us.

Sometimes we're not aware of why we react negatively to something. It's just "a feeling". One of the things that can produce that "feeling" is scent. Avoid shooting yourself in the foot subliminally. Store your paper in a smoke free room. If you smoke, you can't tell if your paper smells. I can.


harridan said...

Oh man,

I am sooooo toast on this one. My smoking habit is long ingrained, and you sooooooooo don't want to see me if I can't get my nicotine fit.

Though I have done long signings without freaking. There is a lozenge out (can't remember the name at the moment) that allows even a die hard smoker to sit still over long, smokeless periods.

PS, I've met some really great, highly succesful authors out in the rain in NYC while they caught their nicotine buzz.

They can get by with sending in smoke scented pages.

Me, I have my paper stashed in another room (smiles)

TillyLost said...

I smoke, and have got the snazzy paper for submissions (not the skanky stuff I usually use) sealed twice and in a cupboard. With the envelopes.
I'm now wondering if ink can smell of smoke. Or perhaps the stamps will.

jan said...

I don't smoke but I am now storing my paper in the same room as the chocolate chip cookies...I need all the positive associations I can get.

Sherryl said...

I can always tell that a student is a smoker when I take their story or assignment out of the envelope. It's totally off-putting - I agree with you, Miss Snark!
I usually put their pages outside until the smell goes, and hope it doesn't rain.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

In my day job, I'm a self-employed seamstress. I quit smoking eight years ago and it's amazing how fast a wedding gown can pick up the reek of cigarette smoke. Sometimes I have to air them and my shop out before I can work on them. All day working on one and I go home smelling of smoke. It puts me right over the edge! I never realized how bad it smelled until I quit.

Unknown said...

You could always just make copies at kinko's. As far as I know they haven't developed a copier that can capture scent.

That way you can use the back of the orginal for reprinting Miss Snark's posts...

[does anyone know if there is a secret message in these "word verifications"? Today it's YRYEG. You Rock, You Eclectic Genius.


Ira Rosofsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ira Rosofsky said...

(I wish there were a way to edit your comment without deleting and starting over. Is there?)

One of these days I'm going to do a photo study of people, including patients, smoking around hospital entrances. I enjoy the image of folks wheeling out their IVs, sitting in their wheel chairs, or unhooking their oxygen to light up. It's a happy band that's usually joined by staff in hospital whites, pinks and greens. Some are doctors. I've seen smokers put a ciggy right into their tracheotomy holes in their throats. Sober heroin addicts tell me it's much harder to quit tobacco than opiates. I'm amused by AA meetings that are fueled on caffeine and nicotine. They're all still addicted to something. Most nursing homes have regular smoking breaks. People who can hardly walk or think are out there in all kinds of weather for their 11 A.M., 3 P.M., and 6 P.M. smoking breaks. Two cigarettes per break inhaled quickly before the supervising staff shuttles you back inside. Psychiatric hospitals used to have heating elements on the wall kind of like automobile cigarette lighters so the mentally ill could light up without possessing matches that they might use to light up the whole building.

I'll date myself here, but I learned my smoking hobby while sitting in the back of college classes cadging smokes. Look at "Good Night and Good Luck" and see the smoke filled room of the Army-McCarthy hearings. I quit many years ago, but I still can miss it, flashing from time to time that it would be great to light up right now. How great it would be to smoke as a pleasant undertone to the tedium of editorial revision. I smoked non-filtered Camels and loved the aroma of tobacco that would linger on my fingers.

I miss smoking like I miss a lover who drove me to tears and drink but was great in bed.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I had a critique partner whose husband smoked. All her pages stank, and the books she gave me stank too. When she moved away, she left me boxes of books. I had to leave them in my garage for months. :( Oh, and he wasn't allowed to smoke in their bedroom, which is where she kept the computer, printer, and paper. And her pages still stank, though maybe not as badly....

Ira Rosofsky said...

"Thank You for Smoking," by Christopher Buckley. Very funny stuff.

It's too bad smoking is really bad, bad, bad for you and me. It's just the thing to offend tender sensibilities--much better than tongue piercings.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Wow, cigarettes and tongue piercing in the same post.

That reminds me. Yesterday I stopped at the pet store to get food for my Koi. They have a new 18-something girl working there. She walked up behind me and when I turned around there were 6 little pierced rings in EACH of her eyebrows, 7 or 8 pierced rings in the long edge of each ear, a stud in one nostril, a big green ball pierced through her tongue, four braides running down her back, and a honkin' huge braid flowing down over her right eye.

Tactful person that I am, burst out laughing and said, "Geez, you shoulda' ran after he stuck you the first time!"

She told the boss (my friend)she needed a break, and stomped outside for (you guessed it) a cigarette.

I looked at my friend, saying, "Well, people that do that want attention. She got it!"

And then I told the child, smoking would stunt her growth, as I left. (Bonnie's rules on How to Win Friends and Influence People!)

Bunneh said...

Ugh. Smoke can get anywhere, can't it? My fiance's parents smoke, and it's the primary reason we don't spend much time with them -- we're both wheezing and coughing for days after any extended visit. The scent sticks to everything -- clothes, skin, hair (and sometimes it'll stick to hair even AFTER a thorough washing).

My mother used to smoke, and once, after coming home from uni for a visit, I did my laundry (like you do when you go home for visits). The clothes went straight from the washer to the dryer to my suitcase, and when I unpacked, everything STILL stunk of smoke.

It's been my experience that the only other scent that clings like cigarette smoke is that "fried food" scent, which, while marginally better than cigarette smoke, isn't something I'd want my pages to smell like.

Bernita said...

This smell thing goes both ways. Have read of writers receiving pages for revision who had allergy fits because of the editor's cat, canine, or some other sensitivity.
Large in everyone's mind is the concept that all this can be avoided electronically.

Kitty said...

Bonnie, you crack me up! I've gotta link this post cuz the comments are priceless.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Bunneh is right about the 'fried food' thing. I have a friend who workd at FitoLay (One of their factories grace our local landsacpe) and she always smells like a french fry!

Until now, I never thought of it as an offensive odor. No wonder I'm always hungry around her!

Nikki said...

God, I love to smoke. I love the smell of a lit cigarette, I love the satisfaction of smoking, I love the dirty looks from non-smokers.

Only 20% of smokers get lung cancer, and since every woman in my family lives into her late 90's while drinking, smoking and eating heavy German food, I'm thinking I'm going to be fine.

I can't stand the self-righteousness of ex-smokers. I'm no quitter, so leave me alone. That's the only bad part about smoking, except for the fools on the street who want me to give them a cigarette out of my pack that cost me $7. Buy your own.

Ira Rosofsky said...

Talking of smells. Anyone been to Cecar Rapids? When the wind is blowing the right way, the whole town and everyone in it smells like Quaker Oats.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Seven dollars a pack! Now think about it. Let's analyze the word 'the fool'. Is it the person who would TRY to bum a ciggy(and maybe get slapped to the ground for the effort) for free or the person who paid for the honor of lighting them on fire and watching them go up in smoke? Just kidding!

You all can somke if you want to. When I smoked I didn't like people to try and convince me to stop either. I just thank God that I quit before they got to these outrageous prices!

Bonnie, Of the Multitude of Snarklings said...

Nikki, it's closer to 25%, and don't overlook the other common "smoking" guns, like bladder cancer. Smokers are two to five time more likely than non-smokers to end up wearing an ostomy bag to hold their pee.

All you smokers quit smoking and protect your manuscripts; the bladder you save may be your own.

(This message paid for by Those Who Would NEVER Give Nikki a Dirty Look, Even Though She's No Quitter.)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm no editor/agent. The smell of cigarette smoke brings out the old fear of someone I know dying trick, not a good subconscious belief to have when wondering if the writer you're reading could be The Next Big Thing.

By the way, a nyone else love the whole Choose an Identity. I love how this place so obviously lets us know we're anonymous.