Shredding

Over the weekend I was cleaning my apartment and I came across a bunch of poems and stories by other people I had collected over the years. Some were by friends, some were by an ex-girlfriend, but most were by people I had met in various writing groups over the years and somehow I still had them. I can’t remember why I kept them, but I decided I should get rid of them, and since they were works by other people, I should shred them. (I’m talking about the writing group people’s work, I kept the ones by friends and the ex.)

While I was shredding these papers today at work, I started thinking about all of my papers. I admit, I’m a tree killer. When I write a story, I’ll print out two copies: one to keep clean for my records and the other to make revisions on, which I also keep for my records. If I go through several revisions of a story, I end up with several clean copies and several revised copies, all of which go either into a folder in my file cabinet or into a box. (I started using boxes for my bigger story projects so I don’t fill up my filing cabinets. As it is, I have about a filing cabinet and a half filled with stories.) I think the biggest reason I keep all of that is I’m a bit of a pack rat but also a sentimental attachment to my stories. But there is also the vain hope that someday – after I’m famous – somebody will dig through all of my paperwork to write papers or books on my evolving writing style. It’s a warm, little fantasy that almost keeps out the cold, realistic possibility that after I’m dead some poor schmuck is going to spend a day shredding my life’s work.

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