And I met her, we got along fine, but I was hanging around in a hotel room in Sydney, Australia, for about a week. Really what that week entailed was an accumulation of reading materials and underwear. I just was hanging around and hanging around, waiting for things to happen, as you often do on stories. Anyway so then there was time for me to leave. I talked to Nicole Kidman on the phone, and she said, “Well, I guess we should say goodbye.” And I said, “Okay.” And she said, “Well, I guess I’ll come by the hotel.” And I said, “Okay.” I just was kind of waiting for her in my hotel room, thinking that for sure I’d get a call from the bellman saying, “Nicole Kidman is in the lobby and you can come down now.”

So I took a shower, and I’m in my underwear, as I often am in hotel rooms — this is a theme here. And I get a call saying that Nicole Kidman is on her way upstairs. Of course, in a panic, all my reading materials were done away with, all my underwear is under the bed, and Nicole Kidman comes in, and she immediately takes off her shoes and lays on the bed. Immediately. Have you seen National Lampoon’s Animal House, the movie where the Playboy Bunny comes into the little kid’s window, and he goes, “Thank you, God!” That’s sort of what I felt it was like: Thank you, God!

Anyway, so I had to decide what to do. It was actually a journalistic, ethical quandary; and so I hopped in. I laid right down, next to her. We’re pillow to pillow, face to face, and I’m asking her questions, but I have to tell you that a million years of guy downloaded or hardwired into my brain. I’m struggling with that right now.

And then the phone rings. I pick it up, and I say, “Who is this?” and he goes, “It’s Tom Cruise. Let me speak to my wife.” And I said, “Well, that would be great, Tom, but she happens to be right here, in my bed.” And he said – it was just one of the great lines of all time – “In your dreams, pal.” And that was it. Whatever could’ve happened, in my dreams of course, I’m not Mister Kidman, but you know, something like that.

Anyway I’m saying all this as a preamble to the real message of this speech, which is that writing is really, really hard. I say that not ironically, exactly, but it is hard. It’s certainly not as hard as (shows picture of miners). Those are coal miners, if you can’t see. It’s not as hard as that, certainly (shows war photo), and it’s definitely not as hard as that (shows photo with mother and child). So I’m not being ironic and my correction is that writing might not be hard, this life that I lead as a writer for Esquire magazine might not be hard, but it is hard to do well.

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