|original works by Christine I Steeves Speakman|
Hmmm, did I get those pesky little curlicues right or are they driving some of you up the wall right now?
Admission time: I am a writer and I hate commas.
Ditto Admission time: I am an editor and I hate commas.
Sorry, but they're a right pain the tushie. And who keeps changing the rules? But, or But. To, too - or - not to too. And I don't mean the pink frilly ones (tutu...what seriously, you didn't giggle, I know you did)
Look, let's face it, commas are needed. We've all seen the joking pictures on social media where without the comma you've become a cannibal cooking some family member. And, yes, I've read reviewers who have gone nuts over a misplaced, missing comma (psst, I can make note of this cause I review, too (comma? no comma?) Psst...as a reader, I don't pay attention to the dang punctuation. If I do it's because the wording is confusing.
With that said, we can't ignore the comma. It is needed (and all punctuation) but we shouldn't be a slave to it. Oyyy, I can hear you yelling right now.
Look, if I've learned anything since grade school it's that the rules are always changing. None of them are written in stone...well, maybe starting sentences with a capitalized word and ending with some form of punctuation. Then again, who knows, someone might be working on changing that one, too.
I'll go out on the limb that the most common use of the comma is for a breathing pause, where the natural flow of the sentence breaks before carrying on. That makes sense.
But, what about those of us who had it drilled into our head that when starting a sentence with certain words they must be followed by the testy curlicue. Or is has to come before the 'too' at the end of a sentence. Yeah, those are stuck in my head. Well, it would appear those sticky rules aren't so sticky anymore.
Oh, but don't you dare take away my oxford comma, that one stays! No, if, and, or buts.
No one likes sloppy writing. No one likes reading a confusing sentence that could be helped by the wiggle hook mark. However, don't get all up in a panic because what's been drilled into your head isn't what's nailed in someone else's. Or that someone's gone and changed the rule, but you didn't get the update.
Our language is growing. It's a living concept of how we communicate. Take what you've learned and apply by common sense...common usage...don't get all hung up over it. Let the writers of the manuals battle over it, cause you know, you'll find a rule in at least one of them that agrees with you.
Write and have fun...heck, wear a tutu next time, pink or not.