Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Book Is Bi




During the time in my life most rife with rejection and tears—in other words, the time period during which I was querying agents to get representation for Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares—there was one agent who expressed interest but said she wasn’t comfortable with the target market I had specified in my proposal. I had indicated that the target market was both men and women; she felt that men would never buy a book with the words “Missed Periods” in the title.

I understood her point. When I started writing the book, I thought my target market was going to be female, but then I started the blog, and I was getting lots of male readers too, so I thought I might as well have the book embrace both sexes- you know, make the book bisexual.

And, today, I am extra glad I did because I just received an email from a MALE student that included this sentence: 

That works fine see you then where do you have your office hours?

At first glance—and if you don’t read it—the sentence seems totally inoffensive, right? It looks like your average-sized interrogative sentence. 

That sentence is an example of when size doesn’t matter. (It may, now that I think about it, be the only time when size doesn’t matter.) This sentence is not particularly long, but it is still a run-on sentence. In fact, it’s a particularly offensive run-on because it fuses three sentences into one.

A run-on is when there are two or more sentences fused together without any dividing punctuation. And, look, we’ve got three sentences: 

1. That works fine.
2. See you then.
3. Where do you have your office hours?

Therefore, this is the correct version: 

That works fine. See you then. Where do you have your office hours?

Talk about missed periods: this guy isn’t missing just one period—he’s missing two! 

And the even scarier part is that when I posted his sentence into a Word document, it wasn't underlined in a green, squiggly line. I guess that means we can't rely on grammar check for protection. 

13 comments:

Shelly said...

That sentence made me mentally breathless. I hope you have made your book required reading in your classes-

E.J. Wesley said...

"Talk about missed periods: this guy isn’t missing just one period—he’s missing two!"

Does this mean he's having twins? I'm okay with grammar but, as you can see, I might've failed Anatomy/Physiology. ;-D

the late phoenix said...

Jenny, have your book take the next step: make it pansexual. wait, so does size matter after all? it's confusing, the answer to this size thing keeps changing all the time, I must know from you, you're the only woman I truly trust...

Mark said...

We can't rely on grammar check? But...but...It's a grammar check. It has ONE job. That sentence doesn't appear to actually be three sentences in one, it seems to be three sentence fragments in one. I find the title to be quite punny so I'm not really put off by it. The full title clearly explains it has nothing to do with monthly visitors, and is about grammar.

anthony stemke said...

If you make the book bi-sexual, doesn't that mean you have twice as many chances for rejection? cm

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Ha, that's a wonderful email. I think I'd just email back and say, "Pardon me, but I couldn't decipher your message. I believe you were asking about office hours." Of course, I'm probably never going to have the necessary patience to be a professor or a teacher anyway. :) And I generally hate Word grammar checks, they never seem to catch the important problems.

DiscConnected said...

I might have even expected the question to be WHEN do you have your office hours?

I would assume that the WHERE would be in your office...

Otherwise they would not be office hours!

Larry

ordinary malaysian said...

Precisely, doesn't that 3-1 (three-in-one) sentence nicely reflect the cyber era of lazy instant food and of the testosterone addled male who won't and can't accept periods? - grammar or not. Period!

DWei said...

Yeah. Good to know that my brain has some innate grammar check because I felt extremely uncomfortable reading that sentence and wanted to cram a few periods in it.

Kelly Polark said...

That guy really needs to reread some chapters, man! :)

Jono said...

I never fully appreciated the sexuality of grammar until I read your writing. I need a cold shower.

Jo Antareau said...

Clearly, the world needs you!

Theresa Milstein said...

You know, when there's a missed period, it means some guy has been involved too.

I just borrowed Naked Gun from my library. My kids have never seen it. I should show them this picture.