ARTICHOKE HEART HOUSE RULES
In accordance with the particular quirks and neuroses of the Artichoke Heart House, and in order to avoid, as much as possible, the quagmire of abject self-loathing that accompanies a less-than-stellar writing day, the following Writing Rules are hereby officially posted on the virtual wall of the Artichoke Heart House for immediate implementation. All resident Artichoke Hearts (who know the goddamn rules, having rather painstakingly made them up herself over a number of years, but who nonetheless have an unfortunate penchant for periodically flaking out and ignoring the rules) are hereby held subject and accountable to House Writing Rules, under penalty of self-flagellation with a wet noodle until a crack in the psyche is achieved and full-blown emotional meltdown transpires.
1. Music is key. Upon waking, make sure to start playing music immediately, so that eventually settling down at the laptop and focusing on the work at hand will occur. Failure to play music usually ensures failure to start writing. Do not allow significant lapses in music to occur. When the music stops, writing will eventually stop soon thereafter. Feel free to play CD’s that “work” over and over and over and over again obsessively. Once a CD has betrayed one and no longer “works,” however (a situation not unlike Clothes Betrayal, by which a perfectly good garment in which one used to reliably feel unabhorrent hideously turns on one and reveals itself, in reality, to be unaccountably unflattering beyond all comprehension), immediately change over the CD to another tried-and-true CD and continue playing new tried-and-true CD over and over and over and over again obsessively until the crisis has passed. Remind self that entire last book was written almost in entirety to the soundtrack of Joni Mitchell’s Greatest Hits, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, John Coltrane’s Soul Train, and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. Yes, your neighbors HATE you. They probably hate you a lot. Just suck it up and get used to it. Current tried-and-true choices: Blame Sally’s If You Tell A Lie, Morphine’s Cure for Pain, Beta Band’s Three EP’s, and Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch.
2. Make sure to move the laptop over to the table immediately upon arising, even if it seems a little tedious and silly to relocate laptop six or seven feet away from where it was. Do not dial-up on the laptop while it’s still in the living room, otherwise one will be tempted to enter the Slacker Dyke Bermuda Triangle of Sloth and Apathy and mainline blogs and DVDs for 8-12 hours straight. The distinction is a fine one, only a matter of a few yards, but nonetheless significant: Living Room = Slacker Dyke Bermuda Triangle of Sloth and Apathy, Kitchen Table = I’m being a Good Doobie and working! (Note to self: Nag landlord about completion of promised second room, so that one actually has a real office again, for fuck’s sake!)
3. Drink two large full mugs of strong coffee. Do not, under any circumstances, however, drink that third large full mug of strong coffee, no matter how much it seems like a good idea at the time, unless one wants to incite a chemically-induced panic attack, wherein one ends up curled up in the fetal position with a too-rapid heartbeat, obsessing about Writer’s Block, in tandem with an in-depth consideration of the various forms of gum disease and tongue cancer that might potentially entail amputation of significant portions of one’s face.
4. Do not call one’s Japanese Mother on the telephone unless one has already put in a solid three-four hours of work, otherwise one might be incapacitated for the rest of the day by a concomitant Self Esteem Crash, thereby inciting a Japanese Mother-induced panic attack, wherein one ends up curled up in the fetal position with a too-rapid heartbeat, obsessing about Writer’s Block, in tandem with an in-depth consideration of the various forms of gum disease and tongue cancer that might potentially entail amputation of significant portions of one’s face.
5. The cats will do practically anything to lure one into taking an extended nap with them. They will curl themselves into blissful croissant-like crescents of snooze, and the combined racket of their snoring and grunting will fill one with overwhelming tidal waves of Sleep Envy. Do not give in to their wily, evil machinations. They are Satan’s Spawn.
6. Do not hesitate to rub the back of the Compassionate Buddha for sympathy and moral support as one contemplates the fact that everything one has written the day before sucks ass. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath and avoid the panic attack looming on the horizon (see #3 and #4, above). Convince self that perhaps one might be able to make the stuff one wrote the day before suck ass a little bit less today. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath. Tell self that at least self is working, and that ass-sucking is a significant part of the writerly process. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath.
7. At the first sign of trouble, don the Good Luck Writing Hat. Don’t fuck around! Don’t mamby pamby about, whinging and mumbling, I don’t like wearing the hat . . . it’s STOO-pid . . . I don’t really NEED the hat. Just put on the motherfucking hat and get on with it, already!!
That is all.
Pics of the Day: The Mint Bar in Sunburst, Montana; The Canadian Dyke at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta; and Waterton Lake at Townsite, Waterton, Alberta.
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