(My apologies to the music group Vampire Weekend for hijacking their lyric.) Writing Wednesday has been full of dull information. It’s been less than charming to see people argue over the use of the Oxford comma. When I was in high school, my 10th grade English teacher bled red ink all over my papers if I used one. She told me we were using AP style. (She also got really irritated with the way my awesome short story ended. She wrote a piece about Mike Tyson being her hero. It wasn’t very good. I thought of her with a smirk when he chewed Evander Holyfield’s ear off. Ms. English Teacher, grab a dictionary because that’s not very heroic.) Not to put too fine of a point on it but her judgement was questionable. Every teacher had a different idea of what was preferable. Between punctuation and the various American/British spellings of words, I’m having a fabulous time.
I’ve listed an example below for those of you who don’t understand the Oxford comma ISSUE.
I love my parents, Rob Lowe, and Miss Piggy.
(That mark just before the word “and” is the Oxford comma. It’s supposed to let the reader know I’m listing 3 different things.)
I love my parents, Rob Lowe and Miss Piggy.
(Same sentence without the Oxford comma)
Without this tiny mark, there’s a chance that someone might think I’m declaring that my parents are Rob Lowe and Miss Piggy.
First of all, it’s rare that these sorts of questions would come up. Most of the time, the list is such that this confusion would not occur. Second, if I wanted you to know that my parents are Rob Lowe and Miss Piggy, I could use a colon and remove all doubt.
I love my parents: Rob Lowe and Miss Piggy.
Third, I’m sorry Kermit. They just couldn’t control their passion for each other.
The worst part of writing a book, so far, has been watching people attempt to eviscerate each other online as I double check that tiny little jots and squiggles are all in the right place.
2nd Amateur Writer Error: I forgot that I’ll never please Everyone.