Old is the New New

Dusting off old ideas GranddadsNo.5

Round about this time each year, being the beginning and all…

I tend to find ideas for stories creeping out of the woodwork. Like termites.

They pick apart my writing time, getting in my way so I can’t focus on the current WIP quite as well as I’d like. This is doubly vexing as most of the story ideas that find their way into my consciousness this time of year are the ones I’d given up for dead long ago.


You left me in space, gathering dust. Does that seem right to you?

And yet, rather like Jubal Early, here they are, prepared to enact all manner of unseemly distractions on my precious writing time. Seriously, in between housework, errands, parenting demands, and editing for clients, I get time for maybe 200 words a day, if that.

And time in the shop? Yeah, thing of the past. It seems 2015 is off at a good clip right out of the gate, with no signs of stopping. Shop projects are on hold for a good month or two at least.

Starting the year off right

is always something we want to do, right? Just so happens that I started the year reading a Chris Schwarz blog post about how to avoid scoldings from Frank Klausz – and as someone who’s been on the receiving end of one, let me tell you…if you’ve never had a drubbing from an Old World Master, you don’t want to walk into the experience unprepared.

After reading, I immediately went out to the shop and inspected my planes. A rusty bunch of scrap, by Klauszian standards, making me feel like the biggest nitwit to ever set iron to grain. A proper embarrassment to the family, with no right to claim the privilege of touching Granddad’s tools.

GranddadsNo.5_NoseSo I got to work and cleaned them up, starting with the No. 5 (pictured above). In the process, I learned something about my family history as regards Granddad’s tools. At some point in its life, the No. 5 met with an accident, likely involving a drop of around 30″ from a workbench to a concrete floor.

The chip off the nose doesn’t really affect the plane’s use, at least not to my novice eye. As a jack or fore plane, the No. 5 isn’t used for detail work. It’s a rougher-outer, good for hogging off waste and getting a board into rough shape. More precise dimensions are created with a finely tuned smoother plane.

But that doesn’t mean you can use the No. 5 with a cracked body


Helluva place for a crack, right alongside the mouth.

My dad’s older brother was a machinist, and he and Granddad were always at each other’s throats about the right tool for the job, the best way to do things, so on and so forth until the bottle’s dry and everyone grunts a “Good night.”

My guess is that Uncle Eddie is responsible for the weld that repaired Granddad’s No. 5.


The weld is solid enough though. Thank goodness.

I have no idea who was responsible for dropping it in the first place, but given that the tool would have seen the most use in the 1930s-40s, I think it’s safe to say it was Granddad himself. The plane’s pretty well gathered dust (and rust) until it came into my possession a few years ago.

It’s now clean and as rust-free as I could get it last weekend. I oiled it up and put it into my tool chest (currently an old flip top letter desk) to keep the dust off while I’m on hiatus from the shop. I’ll check it again next month and do another cleaning if necessary.

In the meantime, all these old stories keep harassing me

and I suppose I should give them some TLC. After all, just because it might look like a busted piece of junk, with a little skilled attention any old manuscript can be turned into a usable narrative. You might have an idea that, upon first inspection, looks like it’s done for. And then you clean off the rust and dust, uncover something you didn’t know was there, and you’re off, scribbling away to get a few words down during the few spare moments you have.

So what have you uncovered lately? Any unattended ideas circling around the attic like wayward bats in need of a roost?

About ajsikes

I am a freelance editor and author of speculative fiction in the dark/weird vein. My editing style is best described as nurturing. I treat each customer with the same respect and consideration regardless of the quality of their writing, and always aim my comments at helping writers improve and strengthen their work. For more information, please visit me at my website.
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2 Responses to Old is the New New

  1. ajsikes says:

    Hey JF, thanks for stopping by!

    I’m actually in the same boat as you, with characters I really want to write about, but have to wait to do so. They’re part of a totally different story world than the WIP, so there they sit, eying me suspiciously, like I’m going to forget about them entirely.

    So of course they keep coming back and harassing me, and just when I’m trying to get a little progress in on the WIP, which is somewhat stalled anyway. I’ve a full calendar of editing in front of me for January, but I’m aiming for that 200 words/day minimum as best I can.

    Glad to hear you’ve got the revisions done. That’s a great milestone! Go celebrate 🙂

  2. jazzfeathers says:

    Hi Aaron and Happy New Year 🙂

    No, not an unattended story idea for me, but a new one I can’t pin down. I have a character I really like and I’d like to write about her. I knwo it would be a dieselpunk story, but as for the rest…
    You’d say there’s not enough about this idea to really use it, and still this character keeps coming back to me.

    Time will tell, I suppose 😉

    And the year has started fantastic for me, I’ve just finished my revision!
    How about your WIP?

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