Er, Happy National Punctuation Day!?

(A silly fanvid of A Room with a View, which features in its opening moments, the question marks I mention in the post below. Certainly not worth watching in its entirety.)

Oh, parentheses—this is your day! And semi-colon? Your moment to shine in the spotlight! And oh, lowly em-dash—so overused (even by me), so misused, so much the go-to guy when lazy writers don’t know how to punctuate a sentence.

Sure, sure, I know. All of you readers and writers don’t need to tell me. You could not be more excited. National Punctuation Day! How will you celebrate? Will, you pepper, your paragraphs, with unnecessary, commas? Spill periods … like sugar … sprinkles over your … every spare paragraph break? (No, wait, three periods in a row? That’s an ellipsis. Tsk tsk, don’t think I’ll overlook you, ellipsis—this is your day, too.) Will you, like George Emerson, draw an enormous question mark on your plate on your wall on your life and ponder it, finger to chin, substituting the everlasting “Why?” for true love?

Worth remembering Mr. Emerson’s entreaty to Lucy Honeychurch on behalf of his son: “I don’t require that you fall in love with my boy, but please help him…. Make my boy realize that at the side of the everlasting ‘Why?’ there is a ‘Yes!’ and a ‘Yes!’ and a ‘Yes!'” Mr. Emerson gets it: questions and proper punctuation are all well and good, but beside the point. They are frameworks for the answer, the emphatic yes, the heart, the emotional core of the thing.

So happy punctuation day, and enough about that drivel. Now get back to the work of limning the limits of the human heart.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Upstart Crow and steampunk romance. steampunk romance said: RT @UpstartCrowLit: Now on the Upstart Crow blog: Er, Happy National Punctuation Day!? ( […]


  2. One of my favorite punctuation quotes these days (what, you didn’t think this was a popular topic? tsk) is from Terry Pratchett:

    “Five exclamation points, the sure sign of an insane mind.”

    Oh, look. Kanye West is interrupting my comment with a direct quote from his blog:

    “WE GOING TO THE OFFICE AND WE GONNA GET MORE BILLBOARDS!!! MORE PRESENCE!!! KAWS T’S!!!!!!!!!!! WE SOLD 72,000 LAST WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YO PEREZ POST THAT!!!! TOP 3 ALBUMS IN THE COUNRTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HEARTLESS 12,0000 SPIIIINS!!!!!!!! LOVE LOCKDOWN 9,000 SPINS!!!!!!!!!!!!! ART WINS!!!!!! ART WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ART WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


  3. I’m sure the asterisk is shedding a few tears (6, perhaps?) right now. No?

    ; )


  4. Terry Pratchett = genius.
    Kanye West = lord only knows.


  5. Martha, your quote from Kanye West’s blog made my brain explode. I will be sending you the dry cleaning bill.

    I’m celebrating the day by removing adverbs and passive voice while working on a rewrite on a manuscript. Woo.

    I do have a question for you, Michael. I write in more than one genre and have more than one completed manuscript. If you’ve previously or have currently queried with a manuscript, is it against the “rules” to send a second query of a completely different manuscript?


  6. I’m so guilty of overusing the em-dash. I love it. I’m addicted to it—I think I need professional help.


  7. @Barbara, I also love the em dash and suspect Michael is just kidding when he suggests that it is possible to use that little darling too often. I mean, come on. He can’t be serious!!!

    OK, enough nonsense. Back to my limning. 🙂


  8. Thank you for making me revisit my love for this flick and Forster…and my pathetic habit with ellipsis…my kisses. I will never quit them…ever.


  9. I can’t believe you maligned the emdash.

    I’m sad.

    The title of my blog (“rhcrayon: The Blog!”) is an inside joke on my tendency to overpunctuate. It’s that exact humor I have that no one gets.

    🙁 (


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