No, first I wrote another introduction. That introduction was a perfectly good piece of writing, that quoted one of my favorite songs and talked a bit about who I was, and what I do, and why I am in this contest, yet again. Typical stuff for an LJI intro, right?
Well, I didn't like it. It meandered. It didn't have a point. It felt lifeless on the page. It seemed bland. But it was what I had, so I put it up so my beta reader could see it.
She didn't say anything about it being bland or uninteresting. Maybe she didn't think it was; maybe she thought so and was too kind to mention it. Her comments were useful and supportive and kind, but none of those comments made me decide to trash that intro, my first intro, and start over.
No, what made me decide to start over was this: she noticed that I type two spaces after every period.
I knew of this controversy: how many spaces after a period? One or two? But I had never been challenged with it in my own writing.
I looked it up online, and…boy, did I find material about it. It seems everybody has an opinion about the matter: the MLA, the Chicago Style manual, gorram Slate magazine…on and on and on. Here's what I learned: typing two spaces after a period apparently started with manual typewriters, which used a monospaced typeface. All letters were the same width, as was the space; in order to make the ends of sentences stand out, it became an informal tradition to strike the space bar twice after sentence termination, putting a wider gap between each sentence.
All well and good, but the days of monospaced fonts (and manual typewriters) are long gone. We live in a proportional typeface world, and typography experts insist that a single space after a period is all that's necessary. To add more is, quite literally, a waste of space.
The typographers didn't settle things, of course. There are passionate, angry arguments on both sides of this issue; you only need throw a stone on the Internet to find them. They say the reason academic debates are so heated is that the stakes are so small; this was proof of that dictum.
It seemed so trivial. I mean, who really cares, right? T-shirts about cannibalistic grandchildren to the contrary, it's obvious that the amount of whitespace on a page shouldn't be a life or death matter to anyone. (Remember, grammar doesn't kill people--editors kill people.) This wasn't a debate I wanted to get sucked into.
And yet I felt the anxiety of the double-spacers. Two spaces was a tradition, and you don't mess with tradition. Two spaces was how my pappy learned me, and two spaces is what I would by god type!
Or so I felt, anyway. As I quickly realized, actually I just really really, really didn't want to have to unlearn a deeply ingrained habit. And at that point, I was disgusted. Am I really so stuck in my ways that I can't even type differently? Does habit have such a grip on me?
So I made a resolution. This season for LJI, not only will my entries be of unparalleled brilliance (as always)(and please kindly refrain from snickering!!), but I will make all of them with not two, not zero, but one and only one space after each sentence termination…even if I have to resort to search-and-replace to do it. I do this not because I think one way is better than the other, or because I care about what professors at the school of internet pedantry might say, but just because I don't want to be told what to do, even by my own brain. I want to be able to switch modes as necessary, and feel comfortable doing it.
I will trust all of you to keep me honest. Remember, I'm counting on you.