Ick. Seriously. It’s gotten to the point in my editing process where I am just going to sprinkle pepper over my hard copy and put commas where the spices fall. No one will notice. Few people will care. Why? Because no one really knows where a comma is supposed to go. Oh, people like to pretend to. They have all these little rules about it:
- If you have to pause to take a breath you need to put a comma there
- Listing (your good ol’ friend the Oxford/Serial comma)
- The vocative comma (before/after titles, and names and such)
- If there is a conjunction the comma goes between the two independent clauses.
- To separate introductory elements of two thoughts that cannot be supported without one another.
- Dialogue tags
- blah blah blah (you get it, right?)
You get what I’m saying. Those are your friendly little grammar rules that help your writing look professional, and therefore worth spending some bucks on. But here’s the thing.
Not everyone agrees on these rules. I submitted a few chapters of my work to an online reading group and recently got back results about it. The bottom line…no one agreed on my comma usage. Some said that I had overused them, some said I needed more. Some didn’t mention them at all.
So here I am, over analyzing every use of a comma in my work, driving myself nuts over whether or not I can defend the use of what amounts to a dot with a tail. Ugh. This is why writers become alcoholics.