The Oxford Comma: Extra Appendege or Necessary Evil?

For my senior year of high school I somehow talked my way into an English Lit class.  Not an Honors class, but close.  My counselor, during our only conversation ever, tried to discourage me.  I had great English grades, but I was dismal at Math.  I insisted I could do it.  She shrugged.

The teacher of this class was considered an impossible taskmaster, avoided by all except her star pupils.  She warned me it was a difficult class, and that she tolerated no slacking.  I stood my ground.  Unlike my classmates, I Loved the Chaucer and Shakespeare they forced on kids, and I wanted MORE!

I kept up, mostly ‘B’s, and she gave me a grudging amount of respect by the end of the school year.  I never was a star, but I learned a lot.

This is the educator who taught me about the ‘Oxford comma’, although she never called it that.  They were cheats.  Only showing up in sloppy work.  Comma OR ‘and’, never both!  In the world of the ‘meme’, if you need one to keep Stalin and JFK from being strippers, you seriously need to think about re-structuring your sentence.

The funny thing about the internet, and Facebook in particular, is how strongly people react to the smallest things.  Like the comma, or the absence of one.  Yes, I hate it when a grammatical or spelling mistake yanks me out of a good story or joke, but I miss lots of them, until I read the comments.  I don’t think I have ever pointed one out.  I’ve got shit to do!

Just this week I hit ‘enter’ too fast and made the dreaded to/too mistake.  It happens.

In my writing, I’ve caught myself beginning to use an Oxford comma.  Sometimes for lack of interest in restructuring the sentence, other times it just looked ‘right’.  “It’s ok, its an accepted form,” I tell myself.

But I still have that teacher looking over a shoulder, giving me the disapproving look.  It’s a burden, but a small one compared to how much she taught me.

Thank you teachers, everywhere, who give kids a REAL chance to learn.

Word count on Beta Draft to date; 76,787  Averaging 2,893 words per day.  Well above my goal of 2,000, so I am pretty pleased, assuming my dismal math skills aren’t fooling me.

Two Spaces, or Not Two Spaces? Is That a Question?

I learned Touch Type in high school, in the 80’s, on an actual manual typewriter.  You know the one, levers, inked ribbon, type face smashing a blobby letter onto paper, a hand cranked roller.  Two spaces after a period are hardwired into my brain.

In recent years I’ve discovered a campaign to squelch the two spaces in favor of a one space system.  While trying to drag myself into the 21st century, I have managed to mangle my brain into supplying a random number of spaces anywhere, even where none belong.  Thanks, internet!

Then, I found a bit of writer’s advice of dubious origin.  “Most publishing houses prefer two spaces.”  Eureka!  It’s not that I expect to ever be picked up by a major publishing house, but Hell if I’m going to change for a possible ‘fashion’ if 95% of my writing is going to be in manuscript form.

TWO SPACES, FOREVER!

FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!

VIVE LE FRANCE!

ANARCHY!

FREE NELSON MANDELLA…

Wait.  I may have gotten carried away in my old age. Sorry.  (Not sorry!)

Word count on beta draft to date; 56,532.  Roughly averaging 2100 per day.  Unfortunately, I’m about a third into the pen & paper rough draft.  Either I hack&slash, divide into two books, or it’s an Epic-epic.  We shall see…

Next week: The Oxford Comma

Todays topic: Pseudonyms

As those who know me may have noticed, I have been playing with using the original spelling of my given name.  My parents tried to make pronunciation easier for people, and used a phonetic spelling.  At my first doctors appointment my name was called…”Danny?”  Oops!  What followed was many years of explaining…

Temptation is strong to use an unrecognizable name, since there seems to be an element of erotica in my writing.  Have I not mentioned that?  It is because of the derision heaped on those who write romance and erotica.  The words ‘trash’, ‘smut’, and ‘useless’ have been thrown around by writers I deeply respect.  I know the moment I publish will be the moment I will never be respected, by these people and many others.  I am learning to live with that.  Personally, I don’t read much contemporary romance, although I have found several paranormal romance writers I adore.

Strangely enough, I have used aliases all my life.  First was my characters from D&D (original boxed edition) and other role playing games.  Then I spent my twenties and beyond in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where I created a persona. I am surprisingly comfortable with a pen name.  It’s like a mask at a friends party.  Your friends know who you are, but you are partially hidden from strangers.  Perfect.

So, if I use ‘Danae’, what about a last name?  There are the obvious choices; Penman, Penwoman, Penname, Pseudonym, Scribbler, or maybe just ‘Hack’. The less obvious choices from my likes; Winter, Snow, Capricorn, Malachite, Obsidian, Oak, Willow, Grey, Wulf or Wolf.  I could even use ‘Jones’, most people probably think it’s fake.  (Sorry, Hubby.)  Hmmm…

Word count to date: 18,992  That’s averaging just over 2,000 words a day this week.  Started chapter six, today.  I seem to have hit a flow.

Yay me!