The Road to Writing (Part IX)

Okay, here’s a bit of a speed bump on the Road to Writing:

You may have noticed the quote on my Home Page from Oscar Wilde: “This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.” Should there be a comma placed after the word comma? Oscar, you devil! Once you decide to go public with your writing, that’s the kind of thing you become obsessed with, especially if you’re an English teacher who doesn’t dare get caught with his commas down. Some of you former students may remember the rules of writing that George Orwell professed to believe … and then violated in his essay “Shooting an Elephant.” George, a most esteemed figure in western literature, thus gives me license, I figure, to ignore the occasional rule, too. What I told my students was you’ve got to know the rules first, and then you can decide whether or not to violate them. [This philosophy may hold true for other areas of life, like religion, for example, with its many “rules.”] This advice about breaking rules holds especially true for fiction, where voice and idiosyncrasy hold greater sway. Having said all of this, I’m guessing there may be “editing errors” in Trout Kill. If you find any, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know, but I’ll just say I planned to break that particular rule. You are now safely past the speed bump. Thank you for your patience.

(Part X later … the last part of the series, unless not!)

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