The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

Your Red Pen Ran Dry

Do any of you have a friend that you always send your writing to, before you send it to anyone else? I do. I have a friend from college, a beautiful historian, that I almost always send my writing to before anyone else reads it. I appreciate her opinion and her historical, fact based approach to every piece. I also love the fact that she thinks I’m a genius. She puts every piece of writing under a microscope and dissects it with surgical precision. Naturally, she finds a lot of things wrong with my writing and she tells me so. What is most frustrating for her is the fact that she knows, that I know, how to do it correctly and I choose not to. Then, when she comments on things that are “wrong” with my writing, I message her back and tell her that I know and it’s staying that way. She is appalled by my continuous use of the Oxford comma. She continuously comments on my “incorrect” use of quotation marks. She frequently comments on my “over-use” of commas.

I am a writer. I am no longer a student. My work is not graded and my ass is not getting paddled for “incorrect” use of punctuation (unless, of course, you’re in to that type of thing and then I might be persuaded). Your red pen has no power over me. I am free to write however I wish (as long as it follows the most basic of writing principles because come on, we’re not apes anymore). She would have said “we are no longer apes”. I like my words better. Syntax. Grammar. Punctuation. We’re taught about these things growing up. We are taught that intellectuals speak a certain way, that they write a certain way. We are told that intelligence can be measured by the structure of your sentence and your correct use of punctuation. Disagree I shall. (If any of you naturally read that sentence in Master Yoda’s voice I would love to get together and buy you a drink; providing that you also love to sit in parking lots with a cheap bottle of booze and discuss life’s little mysteries)

I went to grammar school. I went to college. I know the rules. I choose to obey them when they suit me and disregard them when they don’t. I am a writer. Everything I write (outside of the classroom) is mine to manipulate in whatever fashion I see fit. I have the trump card labeled “artistic expression” and I’ll whip it out whenever I please. Sooner or later the grammar Gods will punish me severely in the form of a stick-up-the-ass editor, but until that day comes, I will insert a damn comma when I want you to pause, regardless of the rules. I will . . . put in a random ellipsis and make you wonder why it’s there. Was that sentence a quote that I stole from someone else, chose to not give them “credit” and then removed some masterfully crafted part of the sentence because I’m a sadistic bastard? You’ll never know . . . will you?

My work this is. My name it bears. Read must you it, but correct it over a dead body that looks just like me.

War. Love. Literature. Boom (goes the metaphoric dynamite).

3 comments on “Your Red Pen Ran Dry

  1. Tanya
    January 31, 2014

    This historian might have said your sentence should have read “continual use” of those terrible oxford commas 😉

    • John Fugman
      January 31, 2014

      Haha I had it as continual! I was looking at it an I was super tired and I was thinking it didn’t look right haha oh well!

  2. Jacob
    February 1, 2014

    Sounds like you’d be ok with the beautiful historian paddling you for poor grammar haha

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2014 by in COMMENTARY.

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