By Rhonda Keith Stephens
OVER FOUR MONTHS OF NO PO MAKES ONE WEAK
It’s been months since I wrote a Parvum Opus, partly because I’ve been especially busy, with more students than usual, and I also got five books into print. Although today is a holiday and I’ve taken the day off from energy drinks, I was prodded into writing another PO today, on the Fourth of July, by two things.
One, Dave DaBee sent me a New York Times article about a young man’s journey away from semicolons and back again. I have my own semicolon story. On my first editing job, as assistant editor at the University of Tulsa publications office, my boss, the editor, said semicolons essentially don’t exist. Her theory was that we do not use semicolons when we speak. But I thought then as now that you might as well say periods and colons don’t exist, nor hyphens nor en dashes and em dashes. I know full well that I feel a difference between a comma and a semicolon when I speak. That woman also didn’t like “over” with numbers, as in “It’s over 100 degrees today” or “It costs over $500”; she said “over” didn’t make sense. But this common idiomatic preposition meaning “more than” is not confusing to anyone.
Later I had another editor who objected to sentences starting with “There is / are ...”. For example, I had to change sentences such as “There are objections to semicolons” to “Objections to semicolons exist”.
Another editor objected to “per” and insisted on the English “a”, as in “Corn is $1 a dozen today”.
To be fair, they were good editors and I learned from all of them. I just didn’t always agree with them. But editors have their quirks, and writers and proofreaders and assistant editors have to accommodate them.
The second PO trigger is that since CreateSpace, the online publishing service I’m using for my books, introduced European distribution, I have actually sold a copy of Parvum Opus Volume I in Europe; don’t know where or to whom; could it be someone on this mailing list? Anyway, thanx and a tip of the Revolutionary tricorne.