Here’s something I used to think about, back in the before-times:
A clause set off by em dashes is like dropping underwater while
swimming breaststroke — just a quick dip before popping back to
the sentence’s surface. A parenthetical clause is more like diving
down to the pool bottom to pick up a coin. And a footnote is a
full-blown scuba dive — you have strapped on equipment and left
the surface behind and you had better, after going to all that
trouble, see something interesting down there.
How was it that I had never noticed that this entire taxonomic
system of authorial interruptions took for granted that readers
would enjoy being plunged into a medium in which they couldn’t
take a breath?
Simultaneously an astute observation on writing and a spot-on assessment of our collective moment.