Every published writer under the sun has had to have his/her work approved by someone else before reaching print. It might be an editor, a creative director or a client. And unless you’re John Grisham or Janet Dailey, chances are you’re going to have to make the changes they suggest. It’s just a fact of life for those of us who earn their livings by committing words to paper. The sooner you get used to it, the better.
Today I had to make the fourth round of revisions on a project because someone who doesn’t have anything better to do decided that this one sentence needed another semi-colon. I say another because they had already requested two. Now they thought it needed three. As far as I was concerened, it didn’t need any. That’s because I have no earthly idea why semi-colons exist.
Do you? Have you ever actually used one? Is there an actual reason why a comma with a dot over it is more appropriate than a comma without the dot? I honestly don’t know–because I’m a writer, not a grammarian.
Many non-writer types think that all of us who do write for a living are grammar experts. In my case, nothing could be farther from the truth. (Or is it “further?” I never know, thus proving my point.) I know the basics…begin a sentence with a capital letter. Put a period at the end. Throw in a comma every now and then. Beyond that, it’s a crap shoot. So when I think about people debating the merits of semi-colons, it makes me a little nutty.
Years and years of advertising copywriting did me in. All bets are off when it comes to grammar and advertising. Especially when you write a lot of radio and tv. You learn to write how people talk. And if you’ve ever listened to live tv, you know that people do not talk in complete sentences. (Unless you’re a politician in which case you speak in soundbite-ese.)
But now, not only do I have to be aware of moot grammatical points, I also have to adhere to a certain “style.” And when I’m not sure of the style, I have to consult no less than three resources: The Associate Press style guide, my employer’s overall style guide and my department’s style guide. What’s really fun is when they contradict each other.
Which brings me to my point. I AM THE QUEEN OF MY BLOG. I have no one to answer to. I have no style guide to adhere to but my own. I can put commas where ever I want. I don’t have to remember if the correct spelling is “email” or “e-mail.” I don’t have to remember if times are listed like this–2:00 p.m. or this–2 PM. Because none of it matters. It’s the words that are important.
And as Queen, I say this to the semi-colon police: Off with their heads!