A Pocket Full of Parenthesis
First, a poetic ode to parenthesis...
Ye are a most beautiful set of ruts
(alone and amidst my endless prose)
A telescope lens,
which can peer down
rabbit holes of distractions.
A set of hands,
clenching ideas that
surely hopes to rip away for brevity
from which ideas
(scribblings upon index cards and old receipts)
Ye are my most
(and grammatically abused
(and source of reader, confused))
My New Inspiration
I have a newfound love for writing (hat tip to Roy Peter Clark's glamour of grammar). Yes, I have a long way to go in polishing my skills. Yes, you can probably find at least 5 grammar errors in every article I've written. Yes, I may never win a pulitzer prize or come within 100 bookend yards of the NY Times best seller. But I don't care! I'm a person who loves to learn and then express what I learn to others.
And that, is my inspiration. What I want to share today is some observations I've had in the nascent stage of my writing journey. First up, how our personalities shine through our prose (and punctuation).
Punctuation, Personality, and Arabian Nights
You can't hear a punctuation mark, or can you? Sometimes we make it obvious: end of discussion PERIOD, I QUOTE, go f*** yourself, etc. Many times we experience the effects. A child's giddy laugh almost tingles with exclamation marks, pulling up upon the corners of their mouths and dimples. A drunk friend's stories can become congo line of commas, marching on in loops with no end in sight. A demanding boss can leave our future marked with questions.
In all the above cases, the punctuation or structure of how we speak or act comes through as a critical component of our personality.
And me? I'm a parenthesis junky. I love to share, to over explain, to give you the back story, to give you another perspective, to dive deeper into an issue, to play devil's advocate, to think laterally, etc. All of this is great, unless you want to complete a thought! I find myself desperately holding onto the topic of conversation while ignoring these other thoughts jumping up and down for my attention yelling "pick me, pick me! I'm far more interesting!"
Unable to completely restrain myself, I goto my favorite punctuation mark. A parenthesis to me is like a little permission slip, as if the reader or listener already asked me for more information and I jump at the opportunity to flood them with the whole story, which I'm sure they'll love, if they were truly interested in the first place. But then more ideas come up, and this is where the abuse starts. One points will remind me of this idea, which will remind of me of this story (which reminds me of this (which reminds me of that (and remember that time when (ad infinitum)))). It's a russian doll set of ideas. It's a journey through the 1001 stories of Arabian Knights, where the point can be so far removed from the original point that there is zero correlation.
Still with me? (Great! Score +1 for restraint!)
The Purpose of Parenthesis
I must have been asleep that day in English class. I was always praised for my math skills (my mom proudly tells the story about how I could add 2 digit numbers in my head in kindergarten), but I always got smashed in grammar. Too many rules that didn't make sense. Exceptions upon exceptions and I finally just gave up.
What I should have learned is this:
- Use them sparingly.
- Keep them short.
- They better be meaty or funny or interesting.
- If possible, rewrite a different way or delete altogether.
These are not hard and fast rules, merely suggestions. If you bring out a book of rules, I'll simply go back to sleep.
What's Your Punctuation Personality Type?
- Are you a !? Do you simply burst with excitement at every turn in your day?
- Are you a .? Do you get right to the point?
- Are you a ,? Do you explain on, and on, and on?
- Are you a :? Do you rattle of lists and account for lots of data?
- Are you a ()? Do you need to explain everything and follow every thought that appears?
- Are you a ""? Do you share the words of others?
- Are you a *&#@? Do you swear a lot?
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!