A Stressful Love Affair

Posted by PJBraley on September 22, 2014

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Two years ago, I fell in love with the semi-colon. 

We’d flirted off and on for more than a decade, but I was unsure if he would fit into my prose; he was uncertain as to whether he wanted to be a part of it. I understood his hesitation. After all, I had misused him in the past by making several faux pas of grammatical etiquette which he had yet to forgive.  However, it wasn’t all me – he came with a lot of baggage.  Rules concerning when it was proper to include him, as well as his relationships with other punctuation that he appeared reluctant to surrender.  Rather than deal with his issues, I left him to the devices of other writers who were not so hung up on doing everything ‘by the book.’

Inspired by (and slightly envious of) their familiarity with him, I reexamined the context of our prior associations hoping for a second chance. Meeting me halfway, we began our renewed relationship slowly…just to see how far we would get.  Respecting his boundaries and momentarily abandoning the unsatisfactory ellipses and the staccato period, I gradually became familiar where he felt most comfortable and gave him his rightful place.  When my prose read more smoothly as he accented my dual stress points to semantic closure, I no longer limited myself to embracing him once in a while and deliberately courted him. 

Although we are not exclusive – I fondly entertain many forms of punctuation (and he certainly sees other writers) – he is my favorite.  To circumvent any jealousy, I never take liberties with commas, colons, and periods. Though I may, from time to time, dilly-dally with dashes and sprinkle ellipses over the page like so much confetti, I always come back to him; he understands me.

Determined to eliminate the clunky quality from my writing voice, he shares my thoughts without interruption as often as I will let him.  Even now I imagine him, snugly ensconced in my writer’s toolbox, patiently waiting for me with a wink and a smile.

       PJ