Tip-toeing to the living room at 3:55 a.m. with reading materials in-hand: People magazine and Mrs. Dalloway.  Jennifer Lopez and Virginia Woolf.  Fluff & fancy and fluff & fancy.  (Hmm, I practiced Venn diagrams with Liam yesterday.  The vision of JLO’s and Virginia’s circles somehow intersecting?  Wow.)

I picked up People first: a cover-to-cover 45-minute read.  Then, I opened Mrs. Dalloway and, on page one, butted heads with the over-use of semi-colons; a different use than I taught in my Developing English classes with incoming college freshmen.

I understand the semi-colon’s use to separate complete thoughts; when you use them to connect related but separate thoughts, they can be quite effective in providing sentence variety.  Or, when there is a complicated list of items and each item is several words long, then they are helpful.

But to plop them in willy-nilly… they accost my grammarian senses at 5:00 a.m.  Wave after wave: reading of a clause or a fragment then bashed into the brick wall of a semi-colon.   I put the book down, and I remember what I told students as they grumbled with all the grammar rules: learn and master the rules before you break them.  I do it.  Love every minute of it.  My stream of conscience writing is in fragments.  Virginia’s is dotted with semi-colons.

I do hope Virginia knew the rules of semi-colon usage; it would make it easier for me to read her if I was absolutely sure she had command of the semi-colon rule and then purposely chose to manipulate it to her own writing style; I would accept that; however, I will need to better prep myself before reading page one again; I must release the ideal that semi-colons separate complete thoughts; rather accept the notion that this literary genius of the 20th century chose them to accentuate her character’s ADD.

My fragments feel right.  They reflect the 21st century’s culture of ADD; however, stream of conscious fragment-writing with the use of semi-colons… I struggle with that.  Really they aren’t that far apart – just a comma extraction and the addition of a capital letter moves the fragments from their run-on appearance to abrupt, jerky thoughts.

Next time I pick up Mrs. Dalloway, I will accept the semi-colons, and I shan’t have a candy appetizer of People magazine’s simple sentences beforehand.  That will help.  Most definitely.

Semi colon


Top 5 January Conversations

Me & My Boys January 27, 2015
big ass hershey

After Liam, my 9-year-old’s productive cough: “Mom, I have mucus on my shirt!” After 10 days of Will coughing, the doctor’s diagnosis: “I really think it’s a virus; give it another 10 days.” Liam, while digitally measuring his fever under his arm for the fourth consecutive day: “Yup, the numbers are still increasing!” After Will, […]

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Hump Day Shorts January 21, 2015
sewer line

Rarely do I have writer’s block. Often I do get in the way of myself and not carve out time to write. That’s not for a lack of words. That’s a different blockage than writer’s block. Have you heard crickets chirping the last few Hump Days? Ah, yes. Linda Malcolm the writer has been researching. […]

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The Missing Gift

Hump Day Shorts December 23, 2014

My time is divided between merry-making, play date booking, and looking for that bag. You know the one… The perfect gift found for a special person. In October. That was three months ago. And eight hiding places ago. The cookies are baked. The tree is up. The Christmas get-togethers are happening. But it’s two days […]

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Do you have an elf on your shelf?

Hump Day Shorts December 11, 2014
Arrival of elf

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf in your house? In case you haven’t heard of the Elf, he visits from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, sits in your house watching and listening during the day, and then flies to the North Pole every night to report back to Santa. Then, he comes back to […]

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Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Me & My Boys November 28, 2014
Gates in Green Park

We are visiting Bill’s family in England for Thanksgiving — five short days. There was no turkey dinner or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. However, the English have chosen to celebrate another more modern American tradition: Black Friday. Yes, we Americans eat the turkey and celebrate the voyage that originated in Plymouth, England; then we wake […]

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