The Pen Is…Talking It Out

Who among us hasn’t struggled with writing a series of “She said…he asked…they cried…she exclaimed,” treading the fine line between too repetitive and too esoteric? After her discomfort writing dialogue in her most recent writing exercise, Ana develops a piece that is ONLY dialogue, channeling her theater experience and memories of improv practice into a prompt that encapsulates a humorous, real conversation. The process causes her to reflect on her creative process, both in the present day as a writer and musician and its roots in her childhood play.

Originally recorded September 16, 2020.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”



“What did I do?”

“You sighed.”

“I sighed!? I don’t even remember doing it!”

“Doesn’t matter, you did it.”

“And you didn’t like it?”

“No. I hated it. With a fiery passion.”

“How fiery?”

“As fiery as the depths of hell. I felt it burning deep in my gut like those burning farts when you feel like your butthole is literally on fire.”

“Why is that?”

“Why is what? Why do I hate your sighing so much?”

“Ha ha, no. I mean yes, but no. Why do butt holes burn like that?”

“I don’t know, cause your insides are dying?”

“I thought it was more to do with caustic chemicals burning their way through your anus. Can’t you just see it?”

“Ick. That’s disgusting.”

“It’s true though! I mean why else would it happen?”

“You are deflecting.”

“Deflecting your farts?”

“No! Jesus. The whole reason we started this conversation. Stay on track!”

“So no more burning buttholes?”

“Seriously. Stop.”

“You hate my sighing. That’s where we started this and you haven’t exactly told me why.”

“I don’t know.”

“Oh come on. You can’t throw something at me like that and then retreat when I call you on it. Own it! Why don’t you like my sighing?”

“I…I feel like when you sigh like that, you are tired of me.”

“Tired of you? In what way?”

“I don’t know! I just feel like you are disappointed in me all the time and that you have these nonverbal that are infuriatingly passive and then I suddenly feel like I have to read into to understand why you are frustrated with me and…and it’s not fair!”

“Whoa, I had no idea. Seriously, my sighs are just that – just sighs. Why do you feel like you need to read into it?”

“Well, it always happens when we are talking about something that I am interested in and that you don’t agree with or aren’t that interested in the subject. It’s like you are obligated to hear me out but are annoyed that you are obligated.”

“Wow, I am only partially following. And – I am engaged and listening. I am rarely bored with you.”

“Oh yeah thanks dude.”

“Not like that! Of course there are times when I don’t follow you or aren’t entirely enthusiastic about a conversation but I never intentionally use sighs or groans or any other flippant nonverbals to passively express annoyance. Not even unintentionally. Now I might poke at you or rile you up but that is purely out of love.”

“Still 8 years old aren’t you?”


“I’m sorry I snapped at you. I guess I am feeling tender today and I just want you and your support and I feel like everyone was pissed at me today and I am bleeding like a stuck horse, and I want to scream and cry and run around the neighborhood waving my arms about like a mad woman.”

“I’d like to see that.”

“You would.”

“Come here. No come closer, closer. I’m not going to bite you! Ha ha not like last time no. I just want to feel you and tell you I love you.”

“I love you too. Jesus Christ was that you?!”

“Guess my insides are dying.”

“I preferred your sighing.”

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