Throughout February, Sundog Lit will be running a series of texts – stories, poems, nonfiction, and some pickup line stories – on the main site and on the blog in support of the release of I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying from Civil Coping Mechanisms.
From Matthew Salesses:
I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying would never have existed if not for a series of fortunate requests. The book started with one story for an all-flash issue of JMWW, solicited by the lovely Dave Erlewine (who seems unfortunately to have given up writing). I didn’t know what to write about, but the push was enough to make me want to figure that out. I remember seeing–in a dream?–a beach of washed-up starfish. When I began to write, a man and a boy appeared, and then a line from the past I had forgotten but not forgotten: “Once you go yellow, you never go back.” A woman had tried to pick me up once with this line, over a pool table, I think. I remember being struck first that she couldn’t come up with a rhyme, second that she had delivered the line as if she lived it, and only third that I was the person she was referring to, the yellow. I turned her down–I think I said “thank you,” and then laughed uncomfortably and made an excuse to leave, not understanding my answer or my shame–but I wondered as I was writing what might have happened if I were someone else and had said yes. That was the man I saw before me, and the boy a human consequence, a surprise son who wanted love from the man who didn’t know how to love himself.
A long time later, I was working on another novel, and needed a break, and I thought of the man and the boy and the yellow. I picked the voice back up and wrote several more stories. I sent a few to The Lifted Brow, and the editor at the time, Ronnie Scott, asked me if I had 20 for him. I did not, but again the push was enough. Then I had 40, and I happened to get an email from Civil Coping Mechanisms asking if I had a book. I sent what I had, and Michael Seidlinger wrote back to say that I should see the project through–their guidelines started at 120 pages. I had thought of the project as finished but, of course, could be convinced.
I can’t say how thankful I am that I was asked for work. So it is my great pleasure to introduce this month of stories and poems and essays that branch off from I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, written by some of my favorite writer-people. With Justin Daugherty’s encouragement and support, I asked these many writers to contribute something in one of two ways: to write something inspired by the cover image, which inspired me so much that I wrote it into the book and then asked for it as part of my contract; or to write something about a good, or bad, pick-up line, and what resulted. The pieces that came in are even better than I could have hoped. They will appear here throughout February and will be given away in an e-book to accompany my novel. I cannot express enough my awe and gratitude. This is the best kind of promotion, I think: being able to share some wonderful writing that is not my own, and yet feels like an expression of myself.