The Paper Shredder

NO, not that one, I try to scream.

But of course, I can’t scream. I can screech, I can scratch like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. I can grit my metal teeth, and I can stutter mid-way between too many pages.

But I can’t scream.

I understand her frustration. I’ve chewed up draft after draft of that dang story she’s writing.

Early on in her story attempt, I want to tell her that she should change from 3rd person to 1st.

Would she listen to me if I had a voice? Who knows? On Draft 5, though, she figures it out herself.

Then I want to suggest that she get rid of half the adverbs she uses.

  • Thoroughly 
  • Messily
  • Encouragingly

DELETE, I’d shout, if I could shout.

But miraculously, those adverbs and ten more are gone in Draft 8.

By Draft 10, I begin to pay attention.

This story is good. Fast-paced, intense, yet full of light, if you know what I mean.

But her moans are deep and loud. In a high pitch she declares that she is going to “quit writing,” that her “muse has left her,” that she’ll leave her passion and go back to “just” being a 9 to 5 er.

No! Don’t shred the best story I’ve eaten in a decade. NO.

So I do the best thing I can.

I turn myself off.

She unplugs me and replugs me. “Reboot,” she mutters over and over.

But I am undeterred. She cannot destroy what might become her magnum opus.

Ohhh, I’m feeling sleepy. Sleepy. . .  sleepy.



130 thoughts on “The Paper Shredder

  1. Most people in India don’t use the shredder, we just tear it manually. Shredders are only seen in selected corporate offices. Also, have you ever lost, misplaced or accidentally damaged any content that was very special to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes I have lost stories and journal pieces that I treasured. That was before I learned how to place these masterpieces “in the cloud,” or at least in my computer files. Back in the olden days, my stories were kept in things called “file drawers” which somehow ate up the stories, much like a paper shredder. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m working on my next children’s picture book, “Molly Finds Her Purr,” and on my next romantic suspense “As Lovely as a Lie.” Keeping me busy. I’m glad the paper shredder has gone to sleep! 🙂


  2. I loved this, Pam! Thank you for the laugh.
    I rarely print things out, so the deletes are on my computer. (I don’t want to know its thoughts.) And I leave the shredding to my husband because I always break the shredder by trying to shove too many things in at once. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some great dialogue here. If shredders could talk! I don’t shred my work. I tend to keep it forever. Most is on the computer now anyway. Recently, I dug up an old piece, reworked it and submitted it to a competition. I’m glad I saved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LOL! It hasn’t been too long that our shredder gave up the ghost. It started making a funny sound but still worked. Then it finally quit. We shred everything! So we had to buy a new one in quick order. I hope your latest draft is perfect also! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I couldn’t live without my shredder. It’s invaluable for bank records, official stuff I consider confidential. But I don’t shred my work. As with many of you, I let it sit on my computer, deleting occasionally, giving the old trash can a thorough cleaning. I enjoyed this piece—loved the personification!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Don’t shred the best story I’ve eaten in a decade.” Ha ha ha. This story cracked me up. Your paper-shredder is your secret muse, Pam. Pay attention and listen to its advice! I don’t have a shredder, but I have a woodstove. I can’t tell you how many drafts have warmed our house. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The shredder sounds like a wise assistant to me. I am chuckling at the silent conversation and the shredder jiggling away on the floor trying to get some attention. I shall look forward to the non shredded work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a perfect perspective from you. I hadn’t thought much about my shredder’s feelings of inadequacy, only being given the “reject” pages. Right on! I shall no longer reject ANY of my works. 🙂


  8. Oh Pam—another great piece!!! I could feel that old guy movin’ and shakin’ as he cut up those pages! Then BOOM he stopped—never to shred again—gettin’
    you to believe in your writing, but more importantly in yourself!!!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. De beaux articles et parfois amusants articles même si toutes les subtilités ne tombent pas sous le sens car je ne maîtrise pas assez bien l’anglais. J’apprends ici. Bon week-end à vous !

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ahhh the power of inanimate objects! It is a loyal shredder indeed that develops opinions and a “voice” for the better outcome of its master. A bit like a horse that decides to turn left because it senses danger, even as you pull him to go right.

    Incidentally, your putting a toe hold into a very real space we are entering with regard to artificial intelligence and “the internet of things”. With increasing AI in our daily lives, your shredder will find great company in the oven that decides on its own what the proper cooking is, disregarding its masters instructions, or a self driving car that will take a different route because it nows better……


    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, your reminder of “things to come” with our machines telling us what to do has driven me to unplug the shredding monster (but I DID save my magnum opus first). 🙂
      I think of you and Peta in a more “real” setting with peacocks and monkeys. Much more soul-satisfying. I’d write more, but my computer has told me I’ve reached my word count. :-0 Haha.


  11. In some ways a shredder is a good thing, as Martha used to say, but- it does have its draw backs, especially one that has learned how to talk. I bet at some point in time you have shredded paper that you wished that you had never put in the mouth of that blubbering and blabbering shredder.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I listen to an adorable podcast called “Everything Is Alive”. As for my shredder, it’s a wussy thing that will only chew one page at a time. It is in a permanent Bad Mood. “I was born for higher things. You only use me to create scratch litter for your stupid cat. If I ever get hold of your magnum opus, just watch me go!”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your story brought a smile to my lips. The paper-shredder’s viewpoint is much more fun than that of the writer herself–all whiny and self-conscious and slow to notice too many adverbs.

    Do you use a paper shredder? I just fold the page in half and throw it in the recycle … unless it’s clean on the other side. Then I turn it over and print a page of another draft on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I avoid our paper shredder. She’s too opiniated! :-0
      I recycle bad drafts; we save a big box of discarded papers and financial documents and take it to the local church when they offer “shredding days.”


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