There are several things that come to mind when I hear or read that word. I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so the cartoon villain is high on the list. Those boxy kitchen gadgets for shredding cheese are there as well. You know what I’m talking about, those contraptions that threaten to eat your fingers as you try to shred the last bit of the block of cheese.
In this case, though, I’m referring to the essential bit of household equipment sitting next to my desk with the job of destroying anything I never want anybody to see. Ever.
Usually it is employed to deal with the kind of junk mail that can be used in identity theft. Occasionally it is allowed to eat old student papers that I am no longer required to keep but which, out of respect for my students’ privacy, I don’t want to just throw out.
Today, if the draft of my current project existed in hard copy and not just on my hard drive, I might be tempted to feed the shredder an extra treat.
I don’t think it’s just me that faces moments like these when writing. Well, I hope it isn’t. But I hit a block in my story. And then my ‘real’ life intervened to keep me too busy to fight the block. And now, more than two months later, I’m finally thinking about getting back to writing again. Except…
Except the time has given me distance from my previous emotional investment, and I am seeing everything in a new light. Things that I thought were essential to the story now seem superfluous. Plot points scream to be moved to different parts of the timeline. Characters are berating me for forcing them into situations that don’t quite work and neglecting their needs. And, worst of all, what I have in mind for my conclusion is threatening to evade me unless I fix everything else first.
In the back of my head is the voice insisting that this will make the story better. I want to believe it. I have to believe it, because the more I think about it, the more I know that I cannot leave things the way they are.
Totally revamping a story that is, at 220 pages, only halfway done is not an enviable task. But in the end, I believe that this story wants to be told, and all that’s left to me is to strive to tell it in the best way possible.