The Authors Guild (the largest organized group of published authors in the U.S.) has a bulletin that comes out quarterly. Each issue contains a number of articles on publisher-author interactions and contracts, book sales, censorship, and other serious subjects. These are important and well written articles, but I’d bet most people turn immediately to the signature, recurring column called Along Publishers Row, written by Campbell Geeslin (who also writes children’s books). It’s a compilation of news about recent book deals, authors acting out, booksellers of note, and gossip. APR is about half the whole bulletin. We’re a gossipy bunch.
In this newest issue there are items like this: former presidential candidate George McGovern, 81, has opened a bookstore in Stevensville, Montana… what are book clubs reading these days? This roundup…Maurice Sendak is working on a book inspired by Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale…
This bit is also from the current bulletin:
The late Lewis Thomas was author of Etcetera, Etcetera: Notes of a Word-Watcher. He wrote:
“Any writer of prose should be compelled, by law if necessary, to submit professional credentials and undergo a waiting period of seven days before placing an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. Writers of poetry are automatically excluded from such use, almost by definition. There may be occasions when an exclamation point is excusable, perhaps even justified, in certain kinds of writing — public street signs, for example, like STOP! DANGER!, TERRIBLE DOG!, but not among the sentences of any ordinary paragraph.”
Oh, you are much too hard on the poor exclamation point! It can be so entertaining under the right tongue-in-cheek circumstances. Your poem, for example.
I will have you know that every time I have used an exclamation point in the last few days I have thought of this post.
I imagine you are wondering: why does she persist in using those cursed things then?
Because they are fun! And they inject false cheer into these exciting “volunteer basics” form that I am writing.
And when I say “Thank You!” it really means thank you. really, really.
Okay. I admit I have no good reason.
Someone teetering on the brink of acceptance of the fact that exclamation points are useless and evil. I’ve accomplished something, then. My work is not done, but I’m encouraged.
I would put a smilie or emoticon here, if I didn’t hate them almost as much as exclamation points. I wonder if I can come up with a poem about that.