In early texts there was no punctuation, just letters, one after another . . .
If I lived a past life, I’m certain that, in it, I was one of those readers of early texts busy inserting my own punctuation wherever I felt it enhanced the telling of the story.
I still do it. Worse, most times I am completely unaware of the number of commas on my own written page. They hide from me, chameleon-like, knowing if I can’t see them, I can’t remove them.
Even when I try to limit the use of my precious commas, I still over-insert them. Forget “word count” devices, someone needs to invent “comma count” software for the dramatic reader in all of us—okay, in me—who thrives on pregnant pauses.
Love those, as often as possible.
So, I ask you, if I relinquish my love grip on the comma, what will happen to me? Will I find myself making goo-goo eyes at the semi-colon (oh, please, no) or suddenly writing very short, plain sentences (anything but that) or…?
As you can see, I can’t change my punctuating ways—the risk of the unknown is far too great.
Here, in this moment, I publicly declare that I shall continue my love affair with that magic, breath-stopping, transformational little mark, the comma.
And, together, we will live happily ever after on the e-pages of romantic thrillers on Kindles, Nooks, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, iPads, PCs, and smart phone screens everywhere.
—Ashley Barron, Comma Chameleon
Painting: William Adolphe Bouguereau, The Difficult Lesson (1884)