My sentences can be very long.
Well, not that one. Or the one after. Or ... oh hell, sometimes I can be cruising along, whipping in clauses and asides like a soda jerk piling hillocks of whipped cream and sprays of chopped nuts on a hot fudge sundae, and before I know it the short, simple sentence I wanted to craft—indeed, tried to craft, and would have crafted, had I been thinking—is lost and I'm snaking my way through some serpentine thought where even I've lost track of what it is I'm saying, or at least trying to say, and I wrote the damn thing, or, worse, am in the process of writing it and somehow can't stop because I'm afraid of placing that period and having to go back and see what I've done and make sense out of it.
Must be from reading all that Proust as a young man, and Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. Proust has a 900 word sentence in "Remembrance of Things Past." I'd repeat it here, but you'd never read it—I sure couldn't—so what would be the point? Which is the problem with long sentences. The mind drifts. The meaning is lost. Better. To. Break. Them. Up.
Here's where a guy needs editor. When my fine editor at the paper, Bill, makes the weary walk to my office, half the time it's to suggest breaking up lengthy sentences into smaller, more digestible parts, and I invariably do. Here on the blog I'm on my own, except of course for readers who gamely point out errors, or what they think are errors, or at least raise the idea of errors without actually saying what they mean, which is maddening. But I try to notice when I'm period deficient, and keep it snappy.
Even though I am guilty of the practice, frequently, I can still whistle through my teeth in derision seeing someone else do it. No flaws irk as much as flaws you yourself possess. I was reading about an upcoming trade show in Tokyo—don't ask why, I might have to go—and came across this description:
81st Tokyo International Gift Show ThemeTheme: Success Through Globalisation-model Manufacturing
Seriously considering, for the sake of the livelihoods and happiness of the people of our country and friendly overseas nations and territories beyond our borders, what kind of goods and amenities, after all, would be useful to them, and how those goods and amenities can be made desirable, devising in a space of free creative study solutions to problems, rather than being carried away by the quality optimization and safety of cutting-edge new technology.
Wow, right? You would think any business entity producing some kind of international show and purporting to offer some thought in English would track down a native English speaker to render that into the vernacular. Tokyo must have its share.
Then again, considering how many native English speakers are guilty of the same thing, I don't suppose we can fault the Japanese too much.
In closing, knowing a challenge when I see one, I thought I should translate the 81st Tokyo International Gift Show's endless and almost incomprehensible blurb into graspable terms. What they're saying is: We're offering a space where people from Japan and abroad can come together and learn how to better sell stuff.
I think that about covers it.