The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

Hearing Voices: A Dialogue October 28, 2009

Filed under: Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 8:32 am

For this prompt, I offered the writers in the room these three phrases:

Do you remember?

How many ways can someone be an asshole?

Sometimes, there will be sorrow.

Here’s what I wrote:


Paranoia and Anxiety showed up yesterday asking, “Did you accomplish everything on your list last week?”

“No,” I say, the heartburn beginning. “My sister was visiting.”

“What if she gets sick soon?” they asked in unison. “Your mom was already sick by 53. She was already showing signs of early onset.”

Worry blew in through the window and sat on my lap, wringing her hands. “It could happen to you too. And what about your brother and that thing on his chest?”

“Your landlord is dying,” Paranoia and Anxiety said. “What’s going to happen to you when he dies? Where are you going to live?”

Humor calls on my land line to save me.

“Remember what your neighbor said? ‘If a new owner wants to move in,’ he said, nodding towards apartment #2,’he’ll probably want to move in there and get rid of them. It’s like a ghetto apartment in there. White trash.'”

Hope sends me a card, floating amidst the bills and junk mail. “Don’t forget about me,” he says. “I’m still around.” And Faith leaves me a voice mail: “Keep me in mind,” she says. “If you focus on me daily, I’ll be there.”

Abandon stumbles in with a bottle of Vodka, saying, “Fuck it! Let’s party, man!”

Meanwhile, Beauty brings me a handful of roses and sits down with my newest coffee table book.

“Can you smell the butternut squash lasagna?” Pleasure asks.

“It’s lovely,” Beauty answers.

Desire wraps his arms around my Italian belly, saying, “Damn! You’re so fuckin’ sexy, baby!” This on a day when all my pants feel tight and I’ve got hair sprouting on my shoulders.

“This whole place could crumble to the ground,” Paranoia and Anxiety say. “And there’s bound to be a terrorist attack again somewhere nearby soon.”

“There are everyday heroes protecting us,” Hope says.

“Aren’t the grapevines a lovely color this time of the year? ” Beauty asks, looking up from the art book for a moment.

Desire sends me a text: ” You put me under a spell!” he writes. “I want you, I want you, I want you!”


Like Music to my Ears

Filed under: Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 8:09 am

This prompt involves playing a piece of music. You can play anything, really, but sad songs do produce some interesting writing. This time I tried something different, and I played a funny, quirky song: Sarah Vaughan singing, “It’s Got to Be Love,” from her album, Live at Mr. Kelley’s. I told the writers in the room to write whatever came to mind. Here’s what I wrote.


“Welcome home,” he says. “Tell me all about your trip!”

“Oh, it was great,” I say. “Amazing.”

I don’t say that Via Dei Coronari is filled with antique shops, and that I knew he would have loved it.

“I fell in love with Rome,” I say.

“Really?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say. “Everyone is so beautiful.”

“Yeah,” he says, “you Italians are a gorgeous bunch.”

I don’t say that there were lovers everywhere in Rome, or that there was a baby in Corleto Perticara who looked just like him.

“How was Paris?” he asks, “Did you like Paris?”

“Oh, God, yeah,” I say, weaving my way through construction on Divisadero, driving on the wrong side of the street for two blocks. “It was great to be back.”

He loves Paris.

“The food!” I say.

“I know,” he says.

I didn’t say that I missed him more in Rome. That I walked past the tailor shops with suit coats in the windows with wax markings on them, and thought of how nicely he always dressed. How I wanted to buy him a tie, but didn’t.

“Well, I want to hear all about it at lunch” he says. “Are you free tomorrow?”

I want to tell him that I still love him, that I think I always will. It looks ridiculous on the page as I write this, but it’s true.

“Let’s check in next week,” I say. “Tomorrow’s crazy.”

“Okay,” he says. “Well, it’s good to have you back.”

“Thanks,” I say. And I want to tell him that the baby who looked like him kept reaching out to me.

“You want to hold him?” his mother asked.

“No,” I said, laughing. “If I do, I may never give him back.”