National Grammar Day

There are days that the mere thought of punctuation causes me to throw a childish fit. Is it wrong for a writer to say such things? I did exactly this earlier in the week as I was editing a dissertation for APA compliance.

“There are starving children in Africa and you want me to care about the placement of a colon? Can’t you see there are more important things to do?”

Then, I saw Grammargirl’s tweet, “March 4th is National Grammar day.” I’m lucky if I spell grammar correctly on a good day… I thought about not using punctuation at all as a way of celebrating (or rebelling). A few hours later I picked up James Frey’s novel, Bright Shiny Morning, and found exactly what I needed: A writer who never uses a comma. Ever. It’s weird and exhilarating no commas at all not even once.

See what I did there? I skipped the commas all together and the words start to rush together. The reader (that’s you) forgets to breathe because the writer (in this case, me) as not told you to do so. (Frey must have disabled his autocorrect function because all these red lines are starting to scream at me.)

A film producer told me once that the seats in a theatre all face the same direction on purpose… that the storyteller wants our undivided attention. A speech teacher once told me that the goal of public storytelling is to get the audience to breath with you. The writer does just that with fluid, descriptive language and well-placed commas for breathing room.