Shortly before John Updike passed away, my father-in-law clipped an interview with him that appeared in the AARP magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2008). In it, Updike described the particular challenges of peaking early —of, essentially, competing against his younger self for sales and positive reviews.
He also gently pokes fun at himself and his “diminishing neurons” that come with age, and he wrote something that really rang true with me:
With ominous frequency, I can’t think of the right word. I know there is a word; I can visualize the exact shape it occupies in the jigsaw puzzle of the English language. But the word itself, with its precise edges and unique tint of meaning, hangs on the misty rim of consciousness.
Ironic that a paragraph about the difficulty of writing in old age should be so beautiful. More ominous still, for me, is that I see myself in that desription, and I’m about half his age when he wrote this.
Better get busy.