Recycling a story is not unusual, it can be very satisfying revisiting a story written years ago, picking it apart, revamping it, even polishing it up to submit for a current writing competition. You might marvel as you go through your files and acknowledge how much you’ve actually written over the years. You might see how your writing has developed or changed with time.
One story I keep returning to was inspired by a journey I took in 2011 with three good friends. the four of us had recently retired from demanding jobs and decided to team up for an adventure. Leaving our partners at home, we flew to Los Angeles, hired an SUV and drove up the West Coast of California, exploring as we went. We called the first part four trip ‘On The Road’ and on reaching San Francisco we visited the fabulous Beat Museum to learn more about Jack Kerouac and his friends.
From San Francisco we took an Amtrak train across America to Chicago, before moving on to meet a friend in New York. We were due to take the California Zephyr but as I recall, it was rerouted due to floods and we ended up on the Southwest Chief to Chicago. We called this part of our adventure ‘Girl Guides on a Train’, as it felt like camping. On the Chicago to New York train we found ourselves travelling alongside survivors and relatives affected by the awful Twin Towers attack of September 2001. They were on their way to memorial events, marking the 10 year anniversary in New York, and we stayed up all night listening to their harrowing tales.
The ‘On the Road’ section of our adventure has however been at the heart of various pieces of writing ever since. The journey crops up in my novel ‘How They Met Themselves’ when two young men travel to California after graduation. They take the Pacific Coast Highway and meet some extraordinary young women along the way. Both men later make an appearance in ‘Lawn House Blues’ and one of them even plays a small part in ‘To Be Frank’. I obviously became so fond of my characters, I couldn’t leave them behind.
I couldn’t let go on my California journey either, so as well as writing a travel journal for myself, I wrote a short story for one of my writing groups. It’s been adapted and edited a number of times since, and submitted to various writing competitions. In its fourth submission, the story, by then called ‘Crossings’ was finally accepted for Robert Fear’s 2023 Anthology ’15 Fascinating Fictional Tales’, which is now available for purchase from Amazon www.fd81.net . Perseverance paid off in the end.
I suspect my memories of travelling through America have had their day now and it’s time I pulled another old story apart, or maybe take some new journeys.