The pin of predictability prickles into the grooves of my memory. It scratches the surface of the present and inserts a loop of random thoughts. The soundtrack of the past drowns out the development of my ideas and my life. Here I go again, cluttering my mind with white noise. This cycle spirals out of control and leaves my creativity chalk-lined on the writing pavement.
I head to the neighborhood track for a long walk, usually three to four hours of extracting the pin out.
A cul-de-sac of trees lines both sides of the winding trail. I lean against one of the trees, a sage with a crop of hanging moss twisted into dreadlocks. I palm its aged bark for guidance amidst the gold and green foliage of its followers. With no answers dispensed, I step gingerly around the carpet of freshly dug dirt and fallen leaves. I continue my stroll.
Lap after lap, the scenery does not change and neither does my train of thought. I feel like Neo in the opening scene of The Matrix Revolutions. There is nothing here to separate one thought from the other.
In life, we get stuck in the groove sometimes. We replay memories over and over again. Some of those memories are pleasant, often stirred by a scent, a song, or a photo. Some are mistakes we have made, things we wish to retract or redo. So even though we have grown a lot from the place that we were in when those memories happened, those thoughts creep up like weeds and pose a threat to threaten our very existence or hedge our newfound wisdom and growth.
With comma splices and fused sentences, those pesky run-on errors, wrong placement or non-placement of punctuation buries the idea into an ongoing string of sentences just like our present is sometimes buried inside our past.
Run-ons threaten the clarity of an idea.
One way to correct this error is to separate the complete sentences or independent clauses with a period:
Example: The St. Johns River flowed under the harpsichord Dames Pointe Bridge, a mystical being lulling God’s creations into its womb, I lounged over the braided rail bordering the balcony of my townhouse, the soundtrack of Jacksonville’s rush hour traffic dwindled in the distance as the sun left its footprints in the horizon. (comma splice—independent clauses or complete sentences joined incorrectly by commas)
Correction: The St. Johns River flowed under the harpsichord Dames Pointe Bridge, a mystical being lulling God’s creations into its womb. I lounged over the braided rail bordering the balcony of my townhouse.
The soundtrack of Jacksonville’s rush hour traffic dwindled in the distance as the sun left its footprints in the horizon.
Here are three more ways to correct them:
- Add a comma and a coordinating conjunction between the independent clauses.
- Complete sentence , FAN BOYS Complete sentence
FAN BOYS =For And Nor But Or Yet So
Two floral flasks of tea-tinged gin and the dulcet tones of jazz set the mood a king-sized bed shrouded with black lace and flanked by hearts made of strawberries created the ultimate aphrodisiac. (fused sentence— independent clauses or complete sentences joined incorrectly with no punctuation)
Correction: Two floral flasks of tea-tinged gin and the dulcet tones of jazz set the mood, and a king-sized bed shrouded with black lace and flanked by hearts made of strawberries created the ultimate aphrodisiac.
- Add a semicolon between the two independent clauses.
- Complete sentence ; Complete sentence
He retrieved the cigar from my fingers and inhaled the fumes exhaled in a fugue.
Correction: He retrieved the cigar from my fingers and inhaled; the fumes exhaled in a fugue.
- Add a semicolon, a conjunctive adverb, and a comma between the two independent clauses.
- Complete sentence ; transition word, Complete sentence
Conjunctive adverbs/transition words: moreover, however, therefore, in fact, nevertheless, etc.
The baritone notes of the bass signaled the horns to glide in with their beats, the drums barreled through the composition, the piano chimed in as Billie Holiday crooned.
Correction: The baritone notes of the bass signaled the horns to glide in with their beats; moreover, the drums barreled through the composition. The piano chimed in as Billie Holiday crooned.
By finding where one complete sentence ends and the next one begins, we can ask ourselves if they are joined correctly where they meet. The period, the semicolon, the coordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs act as equalizers. There must be a complete sentence on both sides of them.
With life, my future self is that equalizer. On each side of it lies my present with the steps that I am taking every day to make sure my purpose is complete.
Getting off the beaten track of the past, the status quo, and the run-on sentence will lead to clarity in life and in writing.