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?)