I have spent most of the week playing with punctuation. I sent my copy of Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt to Main Street Rag. I sweated over periods, agonized over commas, frowned at the stray semicolon. Then I realized that I would still get to see a final copy before going to press. So when I get that copy, I will go even more crazy. I just know it.
This week, I also gathered my first student papers. As most of your know, I teach college composition and developmental writing — a different kind of labor of love than writing poetry. Still, it always amuses me how much credit my students give that little comma. What do my students say? “I would be a good writer except for those commas.” or “The only real problem I have with writing is those commas.” or “I have great ideas but commas get in the way.”
Yes, indeed, I do respect correct punctuation, and the work that the comma can (or cannot) do. Perhaps it’s me — I put too much stress on this little guy. Some day I will master teaching the writing process successfully — a process where my students can learn to clarify great ideas and organization — and then proofread for comma errors while understanding that the comma is really supposed to help, not hinder, good writing.
But until I can do this — I don’t want to see any more comma splices!!