TO WRITE IS TO LEARN—WHICH IS ONE OF ITS PLEASURES
MIND YOU, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD SAY THAT ABOUT PUNCTUATION
I learned most of my punctuation nearly 60 years ago—a sobering thought—and didn’t enjoy the process. Still, I must have been taught fairly well because my essays ceased being returned looking as if they had been savaged by a maniac with a red pencil, though my spelling still left a lot to be desired. Frankly, it still does; but, fortunately the gods invented spell-checkers so my inadequacies in that area are largely hidden.
Recently—somewhat to my amazement—I have become interested in punctuation, and actually enjoy it because Jane Strauss teaches it in such a cool way. Yes, that is her below—and I cannot recommend her too highly. Somehow she makes sense out of her arcane area, and she writes with a light touch.
Still, I had never heard of the term ‘Oxford Comma’ until her mailing arrived today. I am now enlightened.
Are grammar and punctuation important for a writer to master? Many young writers seem to think their raw writing talent will compensate for any deficiencies in that area.
The masters—like James Joyce—can break the rules and get away with it; but as far as the rest of us are concerned, let me give you a simple answer: Yes.