My evil nemesi; Semi colons, English Teachers and the Red Ballpoint Pen

Writing a book is one of the most satisfying feelings and frustrating at the same time. There is a feeling of great accomplishment in finishing your first draft. I feel like I could tackle the world, climb Mt. Everest, and create world peace with a single thought. But after the writer’s high wears off and you actually look at your work a little closer. You realize how sad your first try is. For admit it, no one can write a perfect book on the first try without having to go back and re write and edit it. Believe me, I think many of us have tried. All we have to do is look back on High School and see how many papers and reports we wrote and were vain enough to think it’s a perfect A without spell checking or doing any edits. Sad to say whenever I tried that they would come back somewhere in the C range.
High School killed all hope I ever had of becoming a writer, I hated English. But loved Literature class. Loved using commas and yet never inserted a semi colon in the right spot. Last night when I vented my frustration about my evil nemesis the semi colon to my loving husband, he admitted to me that he never uses them.

My H.S. english teacher, sure loved them. In fact, I never could turn in a perfect paper. Even if I had 5 people proof read it for me, it would always return looking like it had been through the washing machine with a red ball point pen. I would stare at my poor essay papers and the only phrase that would turn over in my head is. “OUT D*** SPOT!” In fact, if i’m making a list of my evil nemesi then I will inevitably have to include the red ball point pen and my English teacher the very scary Mr. M. I will give him that much. On our first day of class he made us stand on our chairs and jump off yelling Geronimo! And that’s how if felt the rest of my 4 years. Like I was falling out of my chair never hitting the blessed bottom of relief, the floor.
So now that I have done my second edit and re write, I have this innate fear that my book will never be good enough. That it would take years to edit to make it red marker proof. I doubt any of my books would ever receive an A. in any of my classes.
I am writing these series of books to not please Mr. M. or make tons of money. I am writing them for my own pleasure and to entertain my husband and children. After all isn’t that all that matters? And as for correcting my book; I guess that’s why God created Editors.


  1. Mr. M was okay once you understood what he wanted. My whole senior year, I always seemed to fall a bit short. He said he knew I could do more. So for our final project, he gave us a scenario that Author A and Author B (like I could remember who they were now) were in the audience at graduation. The projector breaks so we couldn’t do the slide show. That’s all he gave us. I’m sure everyone was writing the great speeches these authors would give, but I went a little “off topic” and wrote this ridiculous story about how I saved the day with this crazy rambling (and very funny) speech. I was sure he was going to hate it but how would I know what these random guys would say? I only know what *I* would say.

    At graduation, when we were all getting into our caps in gowns in the library, Mr. M pulled me aside and said, “THAT is what I was waiting for for the past four years. A+.”

    Best memory ever. 😀

  2. You will never write a perfect book, it’s true – in fact, even after many rewrites, 4th, 5th, even 6th drafts, your writing will never be what it could be – part of that is because of you, though, because YOU will be constantly finding ways to make it better, improve it. YOU will never be satisfied. But someday, I’m sure there will be others who will think differently. And trust me, plenty of writers don’t use semi-colons – they’re quite ugly.

Comments are closed.