Re-Make, Re-Model

strip center


We had some interesting news in the neighborhood this week. There is a strip shopping center of mostly vacant storefronts named “Windsor Bay” about three blocks from our home. When I first moved into this house, twenty-one years ago, the shopping center was at one hundred percent occupancy. Things changed. The supermarket that was there was part of a chain that went bankrupt; ditto the hardware store that was so handy, even when I wasn’t. The owner of a franchised greeting card store retired it, and a tanning salon never really did catch on. What is left is good stuff, to be sure: one of the best Asian restaurants in the area (a wonderful place named Great Asian; call me if you’re in the area and I’ll let you take me to lunch), a pharmacy, a sandwich shop, a pizza-and-brewskis-for-youski’s place, nail salon, and drop in dentist’s office. The overall effect, however, is like a seven year old’s mouth.

The news is that the center has acquired a new owner. It’s a reality company that has decided — correctly — that what worked so well over two decades ago isn’t cutting it now. The new owner is going to tear some things down, build some things up, group the center into three separate anchors, put all new frontage and signage up, and — Oh, The Humanity! — repave the parking lot. I won’t be able to play Rat Patrol anymore when I catch the local urchins attempting to spray-paint the vacant buildings and chase them across the lot while we play bumper tag, but what a small price to pay. A new tenant has already signed up and another — an Italian restaurant that we like, which is located elsewhere — is in negotiations to move in there, too.

All of this news arrived as I was having an inspirational dry spell. And it inspired me. I have a computer full (and some notebooks, too) of Windsor Bays in my office. They are stories and novels and fragments, oh, my, some of them several chapters long, some only a few paragraphs, and some with, as they say in the real estate business, good bones with a prime location. I started taking a couple of them out and looking them over and saw possibilities, just like that reality company did with the mostly vacant shopping center. I’ve been chipping here and moving this and tearing that down. Some change in time, distance, and perspective gave me some new ideas, built upon the shoulders of old ones. A bunch of old ones.

The lesson here, at least for me: take a look at writing that didn’t work, at least a few years ago, and see if there is something to be salvaged. If you have the writing bug, I am willing to bet the farm (or lunch) that there is something there that you can use, whether it is an idea, a sentence, a paragraph, or a chapter. Give it a shot, if you’re stuck for inspiration. I hope it works. And, if you would be so kind, please tell us if you do anything similar or otherwise on a regular basis to get your creative juices flowing again.

10 thoughts on “Re-Make, Re-Model

  1. Good morning, my friends! I may be a bit late answering any comments which appear today as Annalisa, my younger daughter and youngest child (so far, heh heh) is graduating from Columbus Metro Early College High School this morning. She actually completed all of her high school credits two years ago, and has been attending The Ohio State University since (and will almost be a junior in Fall 2015) so it’s anti-climactic to her but not to her parents. I’ll be back with you later on today. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and, as always, for stopping by.

  2. Good morning, Joe.

    Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation. Hope the ceremony was great (at least for Mom and Dad).

    Okay, business at hand: inspiration, creative juices flowing again: How about short story competitions? You reviewed a contract for me, for a short story that made it into an anthology last year. Thank you! It was published in February. And now the sponsoring group is doing the competition annually. So I’ve decided to take a break from my WIP and try for two stories this time. The first is done, and I’ve started on the second. I looked at a stack of sci fi short stories that all received multiple rejection letters and thought – Why not?

    Those stories were written before I learned about JSB’s mirror moment and Super Structure – all plot and no soul (character arc). So I’m trying to write “character driven” sci fi. And then I looked at the stack of stories gathering dust and realized that someday I need to rewrite all of them with my new-found knowledge and publish my own anthology. Maybe. Someday.

    Meantime, I’m having fun with the short stories.

    And, by the way, an article in the latest THE WRITER, about a British author, MacDonald and her book, H IS FOR HAWK, reminded me of you and your wife’s birding.

    And finally, I’ll take you up on your offer – for me to take you out to lunch at the Great Asian – when I’m in the area next.

    Hope you had a great day. Congratulations on your daughter’s accomplishments. The next great day is college graduation, graduate finds job, and Dad achieves financial freedom.

    • Good afternoon to you, Steve! And thank you as always for stopping by and your kind comments, which always make my day, and often my week. I’d love to have lunch with you next time you’re in the area, but my comments aside, first check will be my pleasure.

      Thanks for bringing us up to date on your writing and your revitalizing those works you’ve set aside. Please let us know when those stories get published…I think that all of our TKZ regulars would love to read them.

  3. I love the Windsor Bay story and I love happy endings (mostly 😉 )! Congrats on your daughter’s graduation!

    • Thanks so much, Phil. The graduation was great…it’s a small class (100) at a small school (under 400) and the speaker, Dr. Michael Drake (President of The Ohio State University) was wonderful: interesting, great (short) stories, and mindful of the time. In and out in a little over an hour. I was actually a little misty-eyed to see Annalisa leave there. But don’t tell anyone.

  4. First, congrat~ on both the graduation and the shortened college tuition cycle ~ our baby boy managed to become a junior in just one year thanks to AP high school credits~

    As to remodeling and relocating, ~ I do it all the time with songs ~ or should I say parts (and starts) of songs, finding things that ran out of gas (if I may mix my metaphors), can hitch a ride with something else and the two (or three), wind up someplace else, usually better, than any of them seemed to be headed by themselves.

    And yes, I do it with stories not set to music as well~ though my ‘ADD” seems to enjoy the feeling of completion that comes from solving the “3-minute novel” challenge~

    Anyway, and again~ congrats and safe travels~


    • Thank you, G., and congrats to you on the academic achievements of your son, which are truly remarkable. I hope he continues on that wonderful path and appreciates your support and nurturing, which makes it possible.

      I totally get what you’re talking about with song composition, even though I am not a musician. As it happens, I was listening to my extensive (maybe overblown) collection of Jimi Hendrix concerts, outtakes, etc. this week and once again was amazed at how much from session jams, etc. found its way into his classic canon. And keep up with those three minute novel challenges. Nothing beats completion. Thanks again!

  5. A great analogy. I have a toolbox and rumbling around the bottom are little bits and pieces of this and that, spare washers, bits of wire, a short piece of conduit, all the usual toolbox detritus, and every now and then one or another of those pieces prove to be just what I needed for some other job. (Yes, my house is held together by bits and pieces of this and that.) And that’s sort of like the detritus gathering virtual dust on my hard drive. Every now and then you can take a piece of something that didn’t go anywhere, wipe the grease off and it fits perfectly into something else. Nothing is ever really wasted, sometimes it’s just not properly aged.

  6. Hey Joe, Congrats on Annalisa’s graduation/ascension! I have her photo project from a while back hanging on my office wall amidst my other artwork, it is a frequent conversation starter with my customers. Great kid.

    As for turning old projects into new, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Recently I managed to get my Leprechaun borders who have appeared so often on this very blog (Filli, Gnillii, Boffin, and Berthold) managed to start their very own novelette series. They were merely an idea, that grew into life, and then took a life of their own which leaped from the Kill Zone directly into the e-pages of eternity, lock, stock and four barrels.

    New life from old things. Lovin’ it.

    you can check out the Leprechauns adventures in Appetizers of the Gods, in eBook now and coming out in audiobook on July 1st

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