Long Pants Under a Hot Sun

A novel about Africa, drinking and the meaning of life

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A Few Lines That Made Me Laugh

This time, instead of posting another excerpt from the book, I’m going back in time. It’s the end of the year, and it feels like a good time to go through old things. For example…a page of plot sketches I wrote in 2004 for my second book. That book is currently 1 page long. So, clearly, I take my time with things.

I love finding something I wrote years ago, especially when it’s not completely awful. That’s the best. And I found a few lines that made me laugh out loud:

  • Trying to figure out God is like unloading the dishwasher: no matter how many times you do it, you’ll need to do it again.
  • I think I’ve figured out so much about life that someday I’m going to write a book about everything I know. (That line made me laugh out loud because I probably meant it, which is really funny because I know less now than I did then. Should be a short book.)
  • This year I’m going to make my resolutions around the fourth or so, after everyone else’s have been broken.
  • I just got home from a New Year’s party at Brendan’s, and I have a new table to put my keys on when I walk on the door. (Okay, that is about the saddest thing I’ve read in a while. Really? You left a New Year’s Eve party and you’re talking about putting your keys on the table? Sounds like you had a blast.)
  • I hate my job so much that I get going in the morning, devour my coffee and show up on time everyday just so I can deal with it. Work is predictable and ugly, so I know I won’t have too good a time there. Keeps me going.
  • I grew up Catholic, but intelligent.

So…when was the last time you went through old things? Writing, a journal, photographs…when was the last time you held an old photograph? Who was it a picture of? It’s time to get the self-reflection out of the way so we can move on to better things.

dishwasher

Found

I was looking through old things recently and found my Student ID card from the university in Togo.

My 1997 Student ID card from Togo

Yes, that’s the original paper clip. It reminds me of the opposing forces at work in African culture: the emphasis on official business and regulations (the need to have an ID) and the casual approach to life (attaching a photo to an ID with a paper clip). I don’t think I ever had to show it to anyone.

An Outstanding Rejection Letter

Very pleased to receive a rejection letter Monday night (remember – you can’t get rejected if you don’t try). It’s from a great review that publishes only what they can fit on a postcard. Check it out at www.hootreview.com or click the logo.

Here’s the text of the rejection letter – isn’t that the nicest “no” you’ve ever read?

Dear Matt,
How are you? We really appreciated–and enjoyed–your submission. Really, we enjoyed it quite a lot, especially the first poem (“Well, yes, baby, but”)…and your cover letter! Unfortunately, we were not able to include these poems in HOOT–our issues are small (it’s a postcard!), which means we have to make some heartbreakingly close calls. As we said, we really did like your work a lot, and it was a very tough decision. We sincerely hope you will submit to us again in the future.

I already have.

Read an Interview about Long Pants Under a Hot Sun by S.C. Barrus

Fellow writer S.C. Barrus has posted an interview of me discussing my novel Long Pants Under a Hot Sun. Read the interview at www.awayandaway.com/the-story-from-africa/ and check out his writing and interests on the rest of his site.

This is the space between getting and got.

You know what I mean – the time that nobody documents in a biography, the time between “worked part time at a grocer in his early 20’s” and “had his first manuscript published at 35.” Have you ever wondered what happened in between doing nothing and getting discovered? How did these people spend their time? And what did they do special to achieve their dreams? How did the manuscript get read?

How many people read it first and thought it was garbage?

So far, that number is 3. Three agents have rejected my first novel, Long Pants Under a Hot Sun. But hey, everyone has an off day here and there. I don’t hold it against them.

So I’ve decided to document this time, this space between the last letter of Long Pants and the first edition. The fun part is that you get to watch the rejections pile up with me – just think of the anticipation – how many will I get? How long will it take? As if that weren’t motivation enough, I’m also going to post excerpts from the book. Take a few minutes at work or on the train to find out who Dublin is, and why he’s in Africa, and why it’s so important to drink a lot in Africa, and why albinos make good friends, and why you should never give French Scotch to an African king, and why blind people farm, and why we sometimes don’t realize when people have fallen in love with us, and maybe, just maybe, what the meaning of life is.

And how Dublin screws that up too.

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