Monday, June 1, 2009


This weekend was spent, again, working in the yard, though not as much as the weekend before. Woo-hoo! So, last year, we order a bunch of square flagstones to line the flower beds in the front yard, and some of the beds in the fenced in area of the backyard to keep the boyz (Jesse & James) from trompling the flowers and bushes. Yeah, right! Still the stones - about eight inches wide and four inches tall - make a dramatic impact around the beds, both front and back. Great. Fine. Dandy.

This year, after the new sidewalk was put in running from the street to the front door, after we dug out along each side, hauled away the dirt, and planted masses of plants/flowers, my partner decided he no longer liked the flagstone border around the front flower bed. So, we begin to move the not so light stones to the side of the house to go around other beds. He wants the front to look more natural, the back to look more sculpted.

As I'm hauling the last of the stones this weekend - recycling them in fact (aha, the inspiration for this post), I begin to think about how often I recycle in my writing!


Seriously, people, I recycle all the time. I steal characters from manuscripts languising in their boxes in my closet, or in folders in my desk, or wherever those manuscripts languish. I also recycle barely sketched out plots, scenes, and whatever other clutter is covering my desk at the moment.

Do you recycle? Do you steal a character when you need a character on the spur of the moment and your brain is just too dang tired to create a character on the spot? Do you pull a deleted passage from one book - I save all deleted passages in a Word document, btw - and insert it into the current project you are working on? Do you take the general idea of one story, that didn't work for this reason or that, and suddenly make it into a new story?

I do this constantly. In fact, on my current work in progress I'm recycling a bunch of ideas from a project that never went anywhere at all. I created the character, the situations he would encounter, and then I just (unusual for me) moved on to something else because I just didn't feel the fire of that project. Still, those ideas were still there, the scenes that I wanted to write about, the darkness (of sorts) I wanted to delve into, and now they'll be recycled into my current work in progress.

On that note . . . have a great day. And remember, recycling is a good thing.



Litgirl01 said...

I have only written one novel and have drawn up ideas for two others. So, I don't have the experience to say I do or don't recycle. I can say that in the book I have been characters are totally different. Quirky! I wanted something new and fresh. Who knows how it will end up though.

You and your yard work! :-)

Davin Malasarn said...

I try to recycle my old writing all the time, but it never works. I have a bunch of short scenes and partially developed characters that I can't let go, but whenever I try to use them again they just never fit. It's frustrating!

Scott said...

LitGirl - I keep trying to get out of doing yard work. It's just not happening. : )

Davin - it's rare for me to recycle scenes. The characters I recycle are normally secondary characters in languishing manuscripts that I pull into something new. The plot points I pulled from one project to the next were just notations of things I wanted to include in the other project that never went anywhere. Perhaps I was having a Psychic Friends Network Moment back then, because the plot points fit in perfectly with my current WIP. Go figure.


Tess said...

I did this for the first time on my WIP. I have a horrible habit of starting a novel...writing 45 pages or so and then setting it aside - forever.

So, for this new work, I dug through my partials, found a line here, character there and incorporated them. It seems to be working so far!

ElanaJ said...

I do this all the time. Sometimes I find myself typing the same line in a book I've already written in another. I rationalize this by saying that nothing I've written is published (yet) and I don't need to worry about it until it is. Right? Right.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Weekend yard work? Check
Recycled writing? Check
Both good things to keep our home and work spruced up and new. :)

Scott said...

Tess - I don't think there's a writer out there that doesn't have quite a few projects they barely started and then set aside. I have quite a few of those myself. I sometimes go back to those projects when I can't find inspiration anywhere else.

Elana - right! I often find myself having characters read the exact same book in every project I write. I figure one of these days I'll have to go back and give my characters some reading diversity. Someday . . .

Angie - I'm all for the new, but do you know how heavy those flagstones get once you've moved 1/2 a flat of them? Very, very, very heavy. : )