In Pursuit of the Comma

Yes, we all know there are rules for using commas, but why do we even need commas? The purpose of a comma is to make our sentences more readable. Commas normally occur where a reader would take a pause.

Pauses are important in writing, in music, and in our lives.


In music, pauses can create dramatic moments in a composition. They are called “rest.” And that’s exactly what happens – the music and the musicians take a break from the forward movement of the notes. A rest can create tension. Claude Debussy said: “Music is the space between the notes.” While this idea speaks of more than just the musical rest, it does give importance to other things than the musical notes that make up songs and compositions.

The comma can provide not only easier reading of out words strung into sentences and clarity of meaning, but they can also provide and create dramatic moments, and thereby, create tension.

For example, to illustrate providing clarity, read the following out loud:

Let’s eat Mother before going to the mall.

Maybe a line from a horror movie? Let’s include two commas for clarity:

Let’s eat, Mother, before going to the mall

See how a comma can affect the meaning of a sentence?

If you’re not sure of comma rules, you can look these up online. Many websites have great examples of comma usage.

So what about the commas of your life? Downtime, the times we take breaks from our activities, can be as important as those activities. Sleep is an extended comma. Taking breaks during the day helps to break up our time and activities. These comma times can give us a mind rest before we begin the next activity.

In our lives we also experience comma moments through deep thinking, prayer, and meditation. Don’t diminish the time needed to “quiet your mind.”

Do you take a comma (rest or break) before you begin writing? Try this and see if it doesn’t help you focus more on your writing, leaving behind what you were doing previously.


1)      Brush up on your comma usage.

2)      Listen to some of your favorite songs / compositions. Listen between the notes…

3)      How do you use commas in your life? (And if you don’t, how might you make use of these breaks?)



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A Year of Intentions


My online writing group, Artistic License, has weekly chats and we had our first one of 2013 last evening. The first chat of a new year is usually about our goals for the coming year. This year, because of one of our members (bless you, Connie!), our whole chat took on a new and deeper meaning.


Connie had posted her INTENTIONS for 2013. This concept hit me like an ocean liner. WOW! Intentions! It said so much more to me than just using the term “goals.”

At Dictionary.com, one definition of intention is as follows: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct.

Intention is about action, about attitude, about one’s conduct. I had the feeling this means I’m GOING PLACES in 2013. Not just working toward something, but I have arrived. Where I am is just as important as where I’m headed.

For many months, I have been drawing one (and often two) Tarot cards per day as a point of focus for that day. It’s a way to make myself a more focused-on-NOW person, a better person. (I based the interruption of the card on work from another Artistic License member, Marilyn, who is putting together her book of Tarot interruptions based on a daily one card draw. Her work is positive and very uplifting.)

The card I drew yesterday had these meanings:

I live in the moment.

I am successful.

These two ideals are part of my 2013 focus. While I do work toward being and maintaining success, I AM successful. Right now. That is part of living in the moment. (And I love how these two ideals work together!)

Some of my intentions might sound like goals for 2013, but the big different is my attitude, actions, and effort that I focus on today. That carries over through all my tomorrows.

Intentions. 2013. Focus. Living in the moment. Claiming my success now. If I claim my today, the future follows.

Some of my major intentions for 2013:

Have the second edition of my nonfiction published by the end of March.

Have my novel ready for publication by the end of August.

Plan and begin the drafting of a second book by the end of December.

This is all part of living the dream…

CHALLENGE: What are your intentions for 2013?


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