loves) to read as much as I do would have such a hard time understanding the basic rules of the language. Nevertheless, I struggle.
My eleventh grade English literature teacher was very into creative drive, interpretation, and content over form. Meanwhile, the woman who taught twelfth grade English lit was a hard, very rule and direction orientated woman. She woke up each morning, with her ruler in hand, ready to measure the margins of incoming thesis papers.
Mr. H (I'll call him) told me that if I was in doubt about whether a sentence needed a comma, I should leave it out. Mrs. B (we'll refer to her) said if I even suspected a comma should be present, I better put it in. Because we were meant to have learned them already, the upper level English courses never bothered teaching the grammar rules. On top of that, they were really a bit ham-fisted in directing me where I was so obviously lacking. So that now, I am so filled with anxiety, when I stop to consider comma usage, I actually feel a little ill.
Here are the rules for using commas:(To which neither teacher referred)
-Separate independent clauses in combination with a conjunction.
-Separate series of items.
-Separate coordinate adjectives.
-Set off introductory phrases.
-Set off parenthetical elements.
-And in dialogue (when appropriate).
I can take each of these elements alone. I can write a sentence using each of them and often place the comma where it need be. I can't, however, force myself to combine them into a working order in an actual paragraph that mimics my narrative voice. I am peppering them in like Mrs. B likes and then going back and removing them all as I consider Mr. H's disapproval.
Oscar Wilde said, "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." That is a very apt description of how editing my novel is going.
It is slow, tedious, and excruciating. Imagine if I were attempting to do more than make it readable!
[[Also, Passive voice is not illegal; it is simply annoying. So, why does the grammar checker insist on telling me how often I have used it? How often is Passive voice being used by me? Quite a fucking lot, thanks!]]
There is no way that I can describe it to you, dear readers. Commas are the boogie-men in grammar's closet. I get cold sweats; bald patches appear. You would not think that someone who loves (and I do mean