Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,
Yohannon
yohannon

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Attack of the Commas and Other Aspects of Punctuation

I really need to work on my self confidence.

Stop laughing! There's a massive gulf between bravado and confidence. You can flash a remarkable simulation of someone who knows what they're doing, sometimes to the point of making it all the way to the top. Witness one Mike Brown, former head of FEMA, who's STILL trying to pretend he had half a clue.

The scary thing is, I can see that guy getting another job. One can only hope it's one that doesn't involve human lives.

But I digress.

So, I still judge myself way too harshly, and (as I continue delving into the wonderful world of Perforce support) I have way too small an opinion on my abilities in terms of learning and retaining information. The last few big support questions I tackled I fully expected cries of terror from my reviewers -- instead I only got minor corrections and a few "FYI" pointers. In other words, I'm not screwing up.

Today I was paid as high a compliment, albeit unwittingly, as you could have possibly given me. I was complimented on my ability to graciously accept criticism.

You have my permission to resume laughing.

Anyone who has known me for longer than a 5 years knows that I've often struggled with criticism. Defensive? Sure, if you're in the "offense as best defense" school of thinking, because I was VERY offensive in the face of someone pointing out a flaw.

So imagine how surprised a boy I was when I heard "I wish everyone here could take critiques as well as you do".

Complimented and help up as a paragon example. Well, shut my mouth.

What precipitated this little exchange was my continuing struggle with possessives. You know, "it's" vs. "its", and how that damn apostrophe can sneak into the weirdest places. I personally blame testing -- just because someone "tests well" in a given area, they might still do well to get a solid grounding in sentence structure, grammar, and so forth.

Who am I kidding? I would have been bored to tears and tuned them out.

You have to wonder about how brains get wired. Not all voracious readers can write well -- yet here I am. I once made a joke in my resume about being especially adept at placing commas in their proper places, not realizing how many people struggle with just such a point. Even Roni, someone who sells herself short in terms of authorship, complained recently that she was never sure what the rules were. I've helped edit, many a piece of writing, that had badly placed, commas, as the only, flaw.*

How do I do it? I cheat. I view commas the same way a musical expert, like Roni, views rests. In this case, I consider commas to be, ah, quarter rests. Since Kim was in the car with us, this led to a strange conversation converting punctuation to musical notation. It actually works, if you can get your head around one or the other concept.

Yet again, I digress. Nice to see that SOME things don't change.

* And yes, I once edited an entire novel that suffered from hyperactive commas in just that fashion.
Tags: life, work
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