Friday, June 15, 2007

Grammar Geek

I like grammar. Don't know how it happened. I hated it in grade school and high school. I break the rules hither and fro in my blog posts and personal email. I sprinkle commas across my prose like flakes of pepper on Cajun style catfish.

And yet, for all the abuse I heap on grammar, I adore it. It is true, what they say: you only hurt the ones you love. Above my desk (the alter upon which I make bloody sacrifices of the rules my English teachers taught me) is a collection of no fewer than seven books on grammar and usage.

And now I am pouring through all of them to make sure that my second sentence for the Samhain contest is correct.

Lost in a shifting sea of beautiful faces, she looked for her escort, but saw only tanned skin, white teeth, and greedy gazes that tracked her path through the ballroom the way ordinary party guests would have tracked the waiter with the best tray of hors d’oeuvre.
Though it is a very long sentence, I'm fairly certain it's correct. The sentence contains an introductory participial phrase (blue) and two independent clauses (green and orange, respectively).

The tricky part is that the independent clauses share a single statement of the subject between them. Per Strunk & White, the independent clauses are delineated with a comma and connected by the word "but," but the second independent phrase contains a three-item list set off with serial commas. I haven't found anything that says the structure is incorrect, but I just can't shake the feeling that there are too many words and commas going on.

I wonder if this sentence will sink or swim. I've decided to go with it; all that's left is to wish it well and shove it over the side. Wish us luck.