Wonderful essay by Gail Godwin in @NYTimes on how being a writer changes as you age. Here’s a quote from it:
Inevitable for the old writer is the slowdown of word retrieval. You pause over the keyboard and summon in vain a word you need. This happens oftener and oftener, until you find your jotting pad crammed with thesaurus numbers (74.17, 658.11, 215.22, 236.2). All it once took was the slightest tug at the bell for the vigorous servant, accompanied by backup synonyms, to report for duty. Now you wait, and this waiting offers a variety of responses. You can rail at your “senior moment” like those tiresome people who bring a conversation to a halt because they can’t remember the name of a place or person. You can, of course, resort to your ragged thesaurus, unless your moment is so dire you can’t even remember any words for the concept you’re trying to describe. You can do without the word and perhaps realize how little you needed it, especially if it happened to be an adjective or an adverb. Or you can leave a blank, to be filled in later. You can also take a break from your work and read some poetry (which is all about compression and word selection), or dip into Samuel Beckett’s late novel “Worstward Ho,” an old writer’s celebration of reduced options. (“Fail again, fail better.”) If you are not thrilled by how much his stripped language (he called it “unwording the world”) can do, you will come away with a revised perspective on how many words a writer can do without.
New York Magazine’s Dec. 5 article “The Year in Culture” shows an illustration of a long, corkscrewing series of words and tells us:
“The longest sentence of 2010, at 305 words, is from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, the big novel that made the world safe for big American novels again.”
(Since there’s no link, I’m not going to retype the whole sentence here, but it opens the chapter called “Mountaintop Removal.”)
Link to NY Mag’s The Year in Books.