Oh, please

Writing Group Participant (WGP): I noticed the commas in your poem.

Indy with a bit of a death rictus grin: What about my commas?

WGP: Well, you don’t need the one on line 6.

Indy to self: Probably not.

Indy to WGP: OK.

WGP: It’s a comma for a pause. And then I saw that you used only one other comma.

Indy to self: I see six other commas from where I’m sitting.

WGP: Oh, there’s another.

Indy to self: This is a second draft. And a writing group. [grits teeth]

WGP: William Carlos Williams once wrote an essay on commas in poetry.

Indy to self: Don’t get between me and my opinions on commas.

Indy to WGP: I’d like to read that.

WGP: Actually, most of these commas make sense. Just the one on line 6.

Indy: Mm-hm. Thank you. [pauses] Does my ending work?

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11 responses to “Oh, please

  1. I would be the dumbass to say something like this about the commas. I have no idea how to talk to people about their work, or hear their advice about mine. Clearly it’s a minefield. A comma-riddled minefield.

    • It’s about being draft-appropriate. If the grammar/punctuation is confusing to the meaning, then say something. But other than that, it’s unnecessary.

      But it also could be that she didn’t know what to say.

      One of my colleagues asks her students questions. What did you like? What did you have questions about? Does it start in the right place? Does it end in the right place? And it’s a great way to start discussion, because the questions are concrete enough that the students can answer them, and because they have a “script” to start from, they don’t feel awkward about critiquing.

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