Where did I put that comma?

big-hornI finally finished my fifth book. And then there was the editing. I have used a few different editors and they all have different strengths. One is best at grammar, another at getting into my head and figuring out where I’m going with a sentence. Another is fast. I won’t mention the one that was horribly overpriced and took months to complete the job.

But they all agree on one thing.

I will never learn where to put the commas.

Way back in the old days there was a thing called Bonehead English. When you started college you had to pass an entrance exam which determined if you went straight into the interesting courses, such as Literature of the Greeks or Creative Writing. If you didn’t pass, then you were off to Bonehead English.

I didn’t pass. For a long time I blamed this on the fact that from seventh grade on I was placed in special English classes. This was a time when there was lots of funding for students who showed promise, and wahoo! I was one of those. In Junior High I learned about the history of the English Language (my friends reading this will remember Mrs. McElwain!) I still remember some of what I learned, but sadly, this meant I skipped the sentence diagraming and parts of speech and grammar and punctuation. I’m not sure how the powers that made the decision that I could jump over that particular class thought I would ever learn those basic things.

So, as I was saying, my excuse for not passing my English entrance exam was that program. But all these years later I have to admit, it wasn’t their fault.

So, my particular college had a special Bonehead program. Very independent, you were given workbooks in those subjects you had failed on the test. I think I had three booklets, but for the life of my I cannot remember what they were.

Except for commas. A whole workbook on commas. With a test at the end. Which I passed.

However, I have recently analyzed my problem. After years of joking that I just like to hold a fistful of commas in my hand and scatter them over the story, I hit upon the truth.

I don’t agree with the comma rules.

If you don’t agree with something it is very hard to encode it into your long term memory. I might post yellow stickies, both real and digital, with the comma rules, I might even make a poster that is taped to the wall above my computer. But if I don’t agree, or even believe that these are good rules to remember…well…you can see my problem.

So I just continue to rely on my editors and to be a big fan of the em-dash.

And if you see weird commas in my books, whatever you do, don’t blame it on the editor. I ignored their edits.