Okay, thank you. All of you. Your suggestions gave me plenty to think about--most of all, how embarrassed I should be about the two books that are already out.
The answer? Not much. Remember, I've been reading VULNERABLE out loud to my classes--sex scenes and everything--and I've discovered something.
I don't notice this punctuation as I read out loud, except as to give my voice weight.
I read a lot of literature out loud--not just on Friday reading day, but, pretty much, anything read in my classroom is read out loud. I don't trust the readng levels of the students I have. If I'm going to be held responsible for what they know, I need to know they've understood it as it goes out. When I'm reading out loud, I look to the punctuation for cues as to how I'm supposed to sound. It's that simple.
So, yes. I'm 1/8 of the way through a revision that will go out on Nov. 30, for better or worse (more free books that way--yes, we are that strapped for cash and that venal) and yes, that faulty construction will be in part of it. But (and thanks coach susan) only on the parts I want. I will keep in mind what is still standard usage and, of course, disregard it as I please, but also I will respect it when it serves my purposes. I mean, isn't that the purpose of any law? To use it until it outlives it's usefulness? Shakespeare constantly rhymed stuff in his day that is, to us, un-rhymeable because, in his day, it worked. Perhaps this grammar construction was standardized a long time ago because it worked then. I think, (based on a survey of me, and how often I actually notice this punctuation even as I read), maybe, if the words do not SOUND right using the 'proper' punctuation, then maybe the proper punctuation needs to change. (Egomaniacal much, Amy Lane? No, why do I ask?)
So, yes. I'm going to punctuate a lot of it wrong on purpose. I dare anyone to get caught up in the fraught and awe-full language and the overwrought emotions and notice. (In short, please buy my book and laugh at me. I mean that.)
Anyway-- the break is beginning, and now that I've got a deadline, I don't know how much I'm actually going to blog...I'll do my best--it's some of the best peer interaction I've had in years. But I will be back... (Yes that's a threat!!!)
BTW? It's funny--sort of a sign from the universe, but my i-pod has been playing U2's song Acrobat for the last few days when it's on 'shuffle'. This is funny, because the chorus is "Don't let the bastards drag you down..." I sung it to my 5th period as they trudged in today--they didn't get it. But that's okay, because Right now, as the afternoon of a Friday before the break wanes and the foggy sunshine seeps under the door like a chill little mouse, I'm teaching a student how to knit. There's something sublime about this--it's hard to explain. I want to see my children--I miss my baby and the cave troll--but right now, in this moment, there's only the gossiping teenager and the clicking of needles and my stupid stories that she's never heard before, and time has stopped and I'm giving someone (finally) something I hope they will always have.
The job doesn't always suck. I hope my students have a good break--and I hope everybody else's thanksgiving is blessed.