[You can listen to me read this post, below]
I, love, commas.
When I handed what I thought was the final draft of Be a Hobbit to my girlfriend, Patience–and was there ever a more apt name for someone living with me and editing my 560 page tome–I was sure it was nearly perfect.
But I was incorrect.
I was on a deadline to have the thing turned in a couple of days to Amazon–the online, one stop shop for everything, not the rain-forest in South America–I was lacking sleep, was irritable as fuck, but happy to have reached the end of the journey of writing my first book. I had already Tweeted, “It is written” a week before, or more, so I was ready to actually be done.
But Patience was draggin’ ass (that means ‘taking her time’, not part of Smaug the Dragon’s anatomy) on the final read through. When I got Part One from her, Mordor is at the Door, I realized why.
She had been micro-editing all of my fucking commas!
I instantly became defensive, “This is my book! It’s my voice! That’s how I write! etc etc.”
“How in the hell are we going to meet the deadline if I have to go through this entire fuckin manuscript again, staring at every damned comma?”
But she was right. There were too many commas still in the text. So I told her not to worry about commas; I would go through and eliminate as many as I could. There are probably still too many commas in Be a Hobbit; I guarantee it. When I read parts of it now, I see them.
But commas can be important.
They give dramatic effect, if employed in the right spot–and that last one was definitely not all that important, ya know.
I love commas, however, because they can sometimes save lives. Yes, that’s what I said, save lives.
Consider the following statement that my friend, James, has on a coffee mug: “Let’s eat Grandma.”
Now, if you’re living in a headhunting tribe somewhere in the deep Amazon–that’s the rain-forest, not the online, one stop shop for everything– or a member of the Donner Party snowed-in on a Rocky Mountain Pass all winter, then maybe it’s okay to turn your father’s mother into a happy meal. But in most culture’s, it’s frowned upon, so you better use a comma, “Let’s eat, Grandma” and save a life.
So, I’m not an abuser of commas; I’m a saver of lives. Put that in yer pipe n smoke it!