Writers at the Post Office

Is it just me, or is there something very final about handing over a package to the person behind the counter at the Post Office?  I’d forgotten how nerve-wracking it can be…how I have to fight the urge to snatch back any package that’s full of my words.  The last time I was mailing manuscripts was more than a year ago, during my agent search.  Since then, everything from submissions to revisions to line edits have been emailed as attachments.  And somehow, pressing "send" is easier for me than  handing over a big pile of papers and leaving a building empty-handed.  But copy edits happen on paper.  Mine looked like this…

There were, if I recall, four or five pages without any marks. Yay, me!

You learn a lot about yourself during the copy edit stage.  I have an uncanny ability to mess up words like shoe box and crab apple, both of which I’ve written correctly in this blog. The manuscript was another story.  Sometimes, in my brilliance, I’d write the word two different ways on the same page, to be sure of getting it right once.

This one puzzled me.  Somewhere, I missed the memo that there’s no longer a comma before the word "too" when it’s used at the end of a short sentence.  For example:  I’m befuddled too.  No comma.

Anyway…in case the lady at the Post Office happens to read this, I’m sorry I kept trying to tug that package back out of your hands. I let it go eventually.  Sometimes, though, it’s hard to say goodbye. 

16 Replies on “Writers at the Post Office

  1. I need to take a trip to the post office myself sometime soon. I hate going because I feel like such a loser doing it anymore.

    “Hi, it’s me again. No, this is ANOTHER, DIFFERENT book going out.”

    gigL 🙂

  2. Great post, Kate! (Or maybe that comma should go, too.) –I can’t help it, it’s too deeply ingrained. I’m definitely going to have to research that little change before I teach copyediting next semester, because I missed that memo, too. Maybe we should consult POEM? 😉

    This is a useful post not only for writers, but for someone like me, who needs to explain to students why they need to learn those funny marks.

  3. But if you don’t put a comma before “too”, you are forced to run it all together as “late too”; this could potentially be confusing (especially for fast readers, like me.) A comma indicates that we should pause and a pause is certainly appropriate after “late.”

    I’m guess I’m just old-school and will never be a copy editor ;p

  4. I’ve always seen shoebox and crabapple written as one word. (Hallmark even has a line of cards called Shoebox Greetings.)

    Is this “new spelling,” like new math? :>)

  5. I think many words have two acceptable spellings, and it’s just a matter of which one your house uses to be consistent. I also figured out that I tend to use the British spelling for “grey” rather than the American preferred spelling “gray” that my publisher likes. Live and learn!

  6. Oh, I’m putting off making copies of a novel excerpt to send off myself. I keep seeing little me standing there playing tug-of-war with the envelope at the post office.

    AS far as the comma: I’m. a, punctuation! idiot? so; don’t/ ask” me.