In high school, I had an English teacher who was really big into "allusions" and the origins of common phrases. We had to bring in 4 examples of allusions every quarter, and memorize fun facts about phrases as a part of a "cultural literacy" unit.
The phrase "mind your P's and Q's" means to mind your manners and be on your best behavior. There are two probably origins of this phrase, as I recall from 10th grade English. The first is from old timey pubs, where innkeepers and bartenders would keep track of patrons' tabs by writing down how many pints and quarts a person had consumed. So mind your p's and q's meant, for the bartender, keep track of what people owe you, and for the customer, be a good guest and pay your bill.
The second alternative is stems from the first printing presses that used individual letter keys. Lowercase p and q could be easily switched, since on a press, each letter is a mirror image of itself. So the phrase was a reminder to the printer to always double check his work.
So how have I been minding my Ps and Qs these days?
Well, I'm gearing up to attend a writing conference in May, where I signed up to pitch a project to an agent. My initial plan was to pitch a project I have been working on-and-off for I-don't-want-to-reveal-how-much time.
Some time ago, I realized that this project is my white whale (allusion!) and as much as I love it, I may need to buckle in and try something new. In the last year, I came to a new philosophy about my writing ambitions: internal deadlines. If I can't move on from Project X in Y amount of time, it might be best to give Project X a rest and start in on Project Z.
And that's what I've done, and it's going swimmingly. I hope to have Project Z to critiquers and beta readers in time, because gosh, it's going to be awkward if I don't. But that's what's new with me!
What's new with you?