Yesterday I gave a piece of my writing to an old professor. I really respect and admire this person and wanted some feedback.
It was the first time I had done something like this; asked an old professor to spend time on me and my sometimes feeble and awkward attempts at writing. I felt like I was handing him an imperfect piece of my soul. I wanted to take it out of his hands and go over it just one more time with a heavy red pen to make sure it was good enough to be inspected. To say the least…I felt vulnerable.
As I handed it to him and watched his eyes begin to move across the page (my page) I began to apologize and say it had a few mechanical errors. I trailed off, unable to finish my pathetic sentence. What could I have finished it with? “…so there is no point in you reading this piece of junk, especially if I feel the need to make excuses for it”?
As I walked away all I could think of was this quote from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye where Holden’s roommate explains why he doesn’t want to write a composition. He says it’s because he doesn’t know where all the commas should go. Holden comments, “He wanted you to think that the only reason he was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong place.”
It was in that moment I realized I need to stop making excuses for the misplaced commas in my life. If there is a problem it’s not in the misplaced commas. It seems like once the vulnerability sets in all I can do is look for the little errors and condemn myself.
There are countless blogs, only half typed or jotted down on some spare piece of notebook paper or old assignment, that will go unread. I have unfinished painting after unfinished painting, half brush stroke, half sketch line. And those are the lucky ones…they rarely even make it to the canvas.
How ridiculous. While I’m not an advocate of showing the world everything in its raw and natural state, sometimes isn’t the integrity and intensity of the color of black in a piece of coal just as beautiful as the full spectrum of colors in a diamond?
I realized that if it’s bad, correct punctuation can’t save it. And if it’s good, flaws could be tolerated, even appreciated.
After all, Shakespeare was known to end on a preposition or two.
And that is why, even though it will make me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, I will push the “publish post” button, misplaced commas and all.