I do love me some punctuation.

I love the uses of it; the possibilities of it. I love how it creates drama. Color. How it directs the eye and asks the reader to approach the page in a different way. How it creates rhythms not natural to a classic sentence structure. How it can help a passage mimic the cadences of speech.

Punctuation is a box of crayons; a paintbox full of exquisite oils. Like virtuoso uses of paragraphing or judiciously artful page formatting, it can be a distinctive signature with a lovely pen. It can be part—an important part—of who you are as a writer.

I find myself at odds with a few classicists among my work-clients who have systematically decided what punctuation I may and may not use. I drive them crazy, they’ve said…or at least I did until I was finally beaten into submission. But writing for myself, or for you? Another thing altogether.

Very early on, in my early teens, I got one of my strongest and most lasting affirmations from a teacher who told me that my writing already had a voice. He was right. I used punctuation funkily, even then. Still do.

Why, I ask, should punctuation not be a living part of the art? Why should it not be as much an expression of the creative vision as a felicitous combination of words? If we take seriously our mission as writers—to find new modes of expression that, in a deeply evocative way, bring our language alive and find new places for it to explore—I, for one, will take a stand….

Punctuation is my right. I can and will continue to do with it whatever I want.

If you take issue with that…get over it.

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