Running A Murraython

The good news? I don’t have to worry about freelance writing screwing around with my unemployment benefits. After checking into this with the Washington unemployment office, I learned the state simply deducts the difference from what I’m earning part-time from my weekly checks. In fact, there’s a rather complicated formula/chart wherein they take a percentage and multiply it by another factor and…well, the bottom line is, I might actually come out slightly ahead. Plus, the benefits last longer this way; I’m drawing from a pool of money available to me, so the less I take out every week, the longer I can collect. No wonder the state actually encourages this sort of work!

The bad news? I’ve been accused of extraneous comma splicing.

Don’t feel bad if you have no idea what “comma splicing” is. I’m a writer, but I’d never heard the term before, either. When my new “boss” read my first article yesterday she gave me great feedback, but told me to clean up my comma splices. The first thing I did? Hit up Wikipedia to find out what the hell she was talking about. It was there that I learned I was guilty of using commas to join two independent clauses without connecting them with a conjunction, semicolon, or period/stop.


I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never met a comma I didn’t love. I can’t help it, they’re sleek and stylish and fun. (See what I did just now? I comma spliced. Shame on me).

Seriously, though, I learned something new thanks to these guys, and I’m grateful for any tips I can get to improve my writing. The fact that they know (and care) about relatively minor grammatical rules makes me respect them more. They are looking for quality writing for their websites, and making sure their team of Content Writers (I still love that title!) adheres to proper English.

So, I’m definitely keeping busy with the writing. I’ve got seven articles due by Sunday. I’ve also been asked to copy edit some upcoming book reviews at a dollar a pop, and to pen a How To Write A Book Review article for $50. Little by little, I’m making money off this little venture I’ve got going, and that’s pretty exciting. I just need to figure out how to keep my head above water long enough to parlay all this experience I’m gaining into something really big. And I believe I will. You know, sometimes I think, thank God I got laid off. It’s forced me to follow my dream.

In the meantime, I need to work harder at getting my novel published. There are still plenty of agents left to query. I can’t let that languish; I believe in it too much. If I run out of options, I’ve decided to self-publish it. I’m sure I can drum up enough interest to be able to sell a decent number of copies. Self-publishing has always felt like a last resort to me, but there’s growing acceptance for it these days, so I’m not afraid to go that route if I have to.

But enough about “work”…

(I’m also quite fond of the ellipsis, by the way).

Bill Murray as John Winger in Stripes. Just one of his many modern classics! (Image courtesy of

Have I talked about my obsession with Bill Murray? It’s not unhealthy or anything…I just think he’s a god. Or, at the very least, a comic genius. Here’s the thing about Bill Murray: he only needs to look at the camera a certain way, and you crack up. There’s something about his expressions…or maybe he’s just got a goofy face? (I say that endearingly. Remember, I love the man. In a manly sort of man’s way). He’s got a great, deadpan delivery (even unscripted…nobody can ad-lib like Bill Murray). He was brilliant on Saturday Night Live, and one of those rare actors who made a successful transition from that show to a “real” movie career (sorry, Dana Carvey, wherever you are).

I’ve always enjoyed his work, and his surprise cameo in Zombieland rekindled my interest in his earlier films. So I decided to take advantage of my Netflix account and partake in a Bill Murray marathon. I’ve dubbed it a “Murraython.” I have already worked my way through Meatballs and Caddyshack and Stripes. Now, I’ve seen these movies before, but it’s been years. I’ve enjoyed watching them again – I consider them all classics. Next up is Quick Change, a film I have not yet seen. Also lined up in my queue (or on my DVD shelf already) are Scrooged, Ghostbusters, Tootsie, Rushmore, Mad Dog And Glory, What About Bob, Groundhog Day, and Lost In Translation. The only thing better than back-to-back-to-back Bill Murray movies is back-to-back-to-back-to-back Bill Murray movies.

I’m skipping Garfield: A Tale Of Two Kitties, however. For one thing, I’m older than six. Plus, I’ve heard it’s purr-fectly dreadful.

(I also really dig bad puns).

Even the great Bill Murray can’t rescue that film from the proverbial litter box.

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Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

12 thoughts on “Running A Murraython

  1. I have to admit that comma splices KILL ME. The semi-colon needs love, too! Very nice to know that editors still, well, edit. πŸ™‚

    The way I think about punctuation is slightly different when I’m translating French to English, but I’m a stickler nonetheless. (The French get very creative with their punctuation, too, ESPECIALLY apostrophes. UGH.)


  2. Punctuation is hot. No, really.

    Self-publishing is huge these days. Largely accepted and even encouraged from the research I’ve done. Obviously it’s better as the writer to get a lovely big payment up front, but then, at least if you self-publish the sales you do get aren’t all tied up in payments to the publisher. Also, some very, very big books have been self-published and subsequently picked up by publishers from there. It’s a win-win, I guess. If you have the funds to begin with.

    Good luck, Sir. I will purchase a copy of your book anytime.


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