A guest post coming at you from Dreamland’s Insurgents! I hope you enjoy.
Oh, punctuation! That mad devil. If there’s one thing more abused and misunderstood in our language, it could only be spelling. Have you ever read Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style? If not – don’t! Trying to append rules to the english language is like trying to give a constitution to a clowder of cats. In other words: only busybodies bother!
Emphatically – yes! – punctuation is one of the strongest and most overlooked tools of writers. ee cummings, whose very name causes Microsoft Word to fly into a tizzy, pioneered this direction. His levels haven’t been since paralleled! Every punctuation mark is a sign – telling you – how to read; they too convey inflection, emotion, intensity, speed. A sentence without punctuation is like a train line without stops. Direct, sure. Fast? Of course. Efficient. You know what else is efficient? Fascism. “At least they made the trains run on time.” No: Give me miles of countryside, picturesque towns, afternoons to wander strange foreign streets listening to foreign tongues, meandering, up the occasional difficult hill~ twisting – over bridges – gazing into rivers with the heavens*, reflected. I don’t want to get from point A to point B, I want to get … lost.
Have you been lost in your stories lately? I enjoyed “Home” very much (probably why the cat analogy came so readily). I appreciate how the imagination in your stories allows me the time and space to get away from the scholarly pursuits with which I’ve been laden lately. “Stimulus” is one of your stories that strikes me as a good merger of imagination and real-world experience. You managed to make a dreary setting feel literally abuzz with activity and sound and heavy with the burden of emotion. Can you tell me more about how such an immersive story occurred to you? Perhaps not a “muse” story (nor an “amusing” one, though one I’m musing over, for sure), but I’d like to know more about your inspiration.
Well, this insurgency must hit the books again. This uprising never ends! Be seeing you there, perhaps – in the table of contents! Ha!
What do you think? Do you rely on punctuation for the tool it is? What would be found in your table of contents of questions? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!
2 thoughts on “Letters of Questioning: A Punctuating Lost”
Isn’t it heresy to criticize strunk and white? Will my name be put on a list for liking this post? In all seriousness, Elements of Style is great. You gotta learn the rules before you can break them. Now if only I could learn to be comfortable with that mischievous half-breed the semi-colon.
I am sure Dreamland will have a marvelous response in the up and coming letter!