Commas: To be or not to be

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Oscar WildeIrish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)

This past week I have been editing. Or, more accurately, I have been going over the edits for “A Question of Loyalty.”

For the eighth time. Or dozenth. I’ve lost count.

Of course I did every editing strategy I knew before I submitted the manuscript, including reading it from last page to first and printing it out and going over it with pink and blue and yellow highlighters.

Then I had a professional editor go over it.  I made the changes he suggested. It was as good as I could make it.

About a month ago I got my first round of edits from the publisher. This editor caught some typos both I and the pro and missed. Little things. She had some questions about clarity and flow.

I made the corrections and sent it back.

Along came another editor who had a problem with commas. She must have hated them, because she recommended I remove 90%. I sighed and complied.

I thought I was done, but then I got an e-mail from still a third editor. While I am happy the publisher wants my book to be the best it can be, I was a little surprised. This editor had not only replaced the commas I had so painfully extracted, she added more! Except for the ones before “but.” She removed these with precision.

I have been told that a comma always precedes a “but” but evidently I am old-fashioned and the rule has changed without my noticing. I decided not to argue as she is no doubt following the style preferred by the publisher.

I sent the manuscript back having making a few changes she suggested for clarity and, on her recommendation, putting the italics back in a phrase the second editor had taken out.

She sent it back telling me I had to approve each change she had made. Every comma. I never had to do this before, but there is a first time for everything.

So now I am going over the pages and clicking “accept” over and over.

I could just click “accept all” but somehow I feel I would be cheating.

She had put a lot of hard work into editing my book with the shared goal of producing as near perfect a book (as far a grammar and spelling goes) as we could.

So I’m doing my share.

Accepting the commas, which have their place but not always where I thought they belonged.




































































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