Recycle and Reuse

I’m looking for a plant stand. But I don’t want to spend money on something new.

Instead, I’ve been prowling second-hand and salvage shops, looking for inspiration. And I’m looking here at home to see what I have that could be repurposed into a plant stand.

So this blog post is all about making use of what we already have.

After all, I live in California, in the Bay Area, where we’re proud of our recycling rates. And I love checking out antique stores to see what old items I can give a second life.

When it comes to writing, I also recycle. I suspect many other writers do the same.

An incident removed from Till The Old Men Die found its way into Nobody’s Child. I took a scene from my first mystery (unpublished, predating Kindred Crimes) and reworked it into a scene in the upcoming Jeri Howard book, Cold Trail.

And one of the two plots in Bit Player came from something I mentioned in Kindred Crimes – that Jeri Howard was named for her grandmother, Jerusha, who was an actress in Hollywood a long time ago. For years I thought about writing a short story about that, and eventually I started the story, but it kept getting longer and longer, because it wanted to be a novel.

The first book I ever wrote wasn’t a mystery. I still have the manuscript and I think it has possibilities. Recycle and reuse – in this case add a body and turn it into a crime novel.

Waste not, want not, that’s what I say.

My real life experiences and interests have also found their way into my fiction. Jeri Howard’s apartment in the earlier books? That’s an apartment I once looked at. The murder victim in Take a Number was an old boyfriend. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

The company in Where the Bodies Are Buried bears more than a passing resemblance to a company where I once worked.

In Bit Player, I recycled my own interest in movie memorabilia, as well as a newspaper clipping about a mysterious discovery at Camp Roberts, a World War II-era training base in Central California.

Something I learned at a law firm where I used to work became my Jeri Howard short story “Slayer Statute.” A remark overheard at an Oakland deli inspired me to write another short story, “Little Red Corvette.”

I know some of my work experiences at places I refer to as “the job from hell” will find their way into my novels.

You see, someone once gave a me a tee shirt that reads, “Be nice to me or you’ll wind up in my book.”

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3 Responses

  1. This is so true! One editor asked me to cut 100 pp. from a book once in a month. I’m a trooper and I did it, but you can be damned sure that I saved it all and parceled it where appropriate later in the series, or most of it, anyway. Go green!

  2. Absolutely, Janet. As Ray Bradbury said, “It’s all compost.” Bad actors at the job from hell (don’t we all have at least one of those?) mingle with people I fought during a community activist movement whenever I need a villain. Best. Job. Ever. serves as a basis for the Brush & Bevel series. Nothing gets wasted.

  3. I recycle everything from old newspapers and magazines to the backs of old papers for new fiction drafts. One of my alter egos whom I call Fay has been recycled from fiction to poems to blogs. I always recycle my purple prose. You never know when it will prove useful–revised and cut, of course.

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