I used to think that punctuation was THE most boring part of writing. A comma? Who cared. A period? The difference was? Of course, then I put out three books with a punctuation glitch, and suddenly, punctuation was no longer boring. Suddenly it was a big, scaly, venomous monkey on my back who kept stuffing poo down my shirt.
I got some help with that monkey–some of you (Goddess bless you) jumped on that fucker, gave him a bath, taught him some manners, and while he still rode me, he’d stopped stuffing poo down my shirt, and I was profoundly grateful. (I still am, and I’ll still need your help, btw, when I’m done with the sixth Jack and Teague, so I can edit the whole shebang and maybe get that puppy out in the fall.)
And I thought that was it. The monkey sits on my back, chatters, stops flinging poo, and, hey! Life is good!
Well, I got a request to do a second edit on Truth in the Dark last night, and it suddenly dawned on me.
It’s not enough that the monkey stop flinging poo! I need to put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! Imagine my surprise!
See, the thing was, I had too many EM dashes. Now, you may scoff at that–I’m sure I did. (I know that at some point in time, I scoffed at the idea that you could have too many EM dashes. I don’t remember it now that this second monkey arrived in my inbox, but I know that there was.) I mean, my dialog is punctuated correctly, right? Isn’t that a step up? No comma splice errors–or at least they’ve been minimized, right? I mean, with the exception of some eccentric dialog and sentence constructions that were probably a CMS nightmare but that I ain’t changin’, I’m pretty sure that as long as it’s TECHNICALLY correct, simply using a punctuation mark when it’s out of fashion isn’t going to get me a big ol’ smackdown come review time, is it?
And this is when I realized how crafty an editor has to be. Because mine sure has it down.
First, she massaged my tight ego: “All of those EM dashes break up your lovely flowing text so badly.”
Oh. Really? My text is lovely? Well, you know. If my text is purty, well, maybe I could take care of some of those EM dashes for you. I mean, you know. It ain’t no big. EM dash? I don’t need no stinkin’ EM dash. I’ll take off some of the rough edges if I’ve got purty prose, wouldn’t anyone?
Second, she uses an editing program with a visual. Sure enough, this second go-round she’d highlighted every EM dash on the page.
I think my record thus far has been twelve.
Fucking monkey. That asshole’s been saving poo in his back pockets, and I think he just took another dump on my head.
*sniffle* Excuse me, y’all. *whimper* I gotta go put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! *whine*
ONCE MORE INTO THE EDIT, DEAR FRIENDS, AND FILL THE MARGINS WITH YOUR EM DASH DEAD!