Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Old Enough to be Out-of-Date

Notes:  I ended up with another bad infection last week and didn't get my scans done. I went to the hospital via ambulance, but I wasn't septic so didn't have to be admitted.

Also, my poem "Compartmentalization" appeared in the new issue of confetti.
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I curate The Handy, Uncapped Pen. Each year, I work with a variety of disabled and neurodivergent creatives to prepare their work for the blog... most of them writers. I enjoy finding a piece that makes me wish I would've created it. 

As I edit and format my way through the two open submission periods, I often find myself questioning everything I know about grammar. My mind was in a stutter years ago when I realized you only need one space after a sentence (though people read faster with an extra space). I'm pretty stuck in my ways.

Earlier this spring, I edited a knockout essay. It had semicolons to separate items in a list, something I'd never seen done before; I researched it and vowed to keep that little trick in mind. Then, there was the fact that the writer wouldn't put a comma after a conjunction if it started a sentence—something I always did! And it was correct; I've been doing it incorrectly for years. 

The writer had to point me to a grammar rule she used when it comes to putting quote marks outside a period if the quote starts halfway through a sentence. Even though I saw it, my mind still disagrees with the rule. To me, the period rests outside the quotes. I let her use whatever rule she wanted.

I've never thought about taking a grammar refresher course, but these past few months make me wonder. Have you ever found out something you believed about writing was untrue? 

3 comments:

  1. FYI, sometimes you're not wrong, just out of date. Two spaces after a period worked find with a typewriter. It became problematic when computers allowed us to switch to proportional fonts, which is when that rule started going out of style (pardon the pun).

    As to periods inside/outside quotation marks: inside is American English, outside is British English, unless the period is actually a part of the quote (same with other punctuation). I've adopted the latter because it's more clear where the punctuation came from (the original quote or the author) although I find a lot of editors switch it back to American style.

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  2. Great poem! Really punched me at the end (I mean that in a good way). As for grammar, I'll defer to Joan Didion who said, "Grammar is a piano I play by ear."

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