Monday, August 22, 2011

The Comma

I am sitting in front of my computer: there is a finished story on the screen in front of me; my mouse pointer is hovering over the ‘Publish’ button, the button that will make the story available on my website. My right index finger is poised, ready to click that button. It is time to click that button; I have to click it: but I don’t; I don’t click that button. I sit there. I start to sweat. I start to question the contents of my story. I start to wonder if I have used too many commas.

I remind myself that I can still change my story after I have posted it. I remind myself that the very small number of people who visit my website will understand the comma problem.

But, as I click that ‘Publish’ button, a dull sense of unease remains: something is not right.

I go to my own website. I re-read my story. I remove the comma and republish the story. I go back to my website. I re-read my story again. I add the comma back in and republish the story again.

This comma is like the bolt that is leftover after you have put your car back together: it is a small piece, but it is significant.

The significance of the comma grows in my mind. I read the story to my wife, with and without the comma. She tells me she can’t hear a difference and that she likes my story. I tell her that she doesn't understand my art.

We go to bed. I dream that hundreds of people have read my story. I am on the brink of being discovered as an author until someone shouts out, ‘Hey, what’s with this extra comma?” The crowd turns away from me. I call after them, tell them that it can be removed: but it’s no use.

I wake-up with a start. I make a note of the dream in my writer’s diary. Perhaps there is a story in this, I think.

No comments:

Post a Comment