Monday, August 15, 2011

The Comma Queen Misses Not One, But Two


Last week was a writers' contest marathon week for me. I entered four different picture books and one YA excerpt. I was feeling great about my submissions, until, I saw the missing commas in my YA excerpt! Not one, but TWO! Yes, it had already been submitted.

My heart flipped, then crashed to the pit of my stomach. Well, there goes that shot, I thought.Only
a chance to have my work looked over by a New York agent,
no big deal, right?

Have you ever looked at a piece of your own work, until the words just become words? A blob on the page. This probably doesn't make any sense, and I'm slipping into some bizarre writer's funk, but I'd read the excerpt until my eyes blurred, and I only saw black and white.

I handed the 2,000-word excerpt over to my 8th grade daughter, total GT, and self-proclaimed "comma queen". She looked me up and down, as if I was wearing a green polka-dot skirt with a purple striped shirt or something, and went back to editing. She's one tough cookie, I'll give her that.

After we fixed a couple of "tense issues" as she stated, she moved on to my commas. She scribbled, removed commas, added commas, etc. By the time she was finished, I thought, thank goodness I didn't submit it earlier! I sent that baby without a second glance. I just knew all was done.

It was perfect. Well, near perfect, minus two commas! I think between trying to watch a movie, texting her cousins, and editing my work, she was over-taxed. Her attention only spans so far.

So, the 2,000-word excerpt was emailed missing the two commas. I noticed when I bcc'd it to myself, which is something I always do. Next time, I'll send it to myself FIRST, read it over, then send it on to its final destination. How we live and learn.

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