Thoughts From Murakami

I've been thinking about writing and physical health lately. I've churned out twelve novels, a bunch of short stories, and other stuff, and I'm pretty sure it's taken a physical toll. Of course, I could have exercised daily the whole time but just haven't, so I'm probably looking toward writing as a scapegoat more than the prime cause of my sluggishness. I read somewhere that anyone who sits for 40 hours a week, even if they exercise daily for an hour, is going to (on average) die sooner and more likely to have all sorts of physical ailments. So what's a fella to do who works at an office, loves to read, loves movies, and writes in a sitting position? Mega Japanese novelist Huruki Murakami likes to long distance run (but let's not go crazy here):

"Basically I agree with the view that writing novels is an unhealthy type of work. When we set off to write a novel, when we use writing to create a story, like it or not a kind of toxin that lies deep down in all humanity rises to the surface. All writers have to come face-to-face with this toxin and, aware of the danger involved, discover a way to deal with it, because otherwise no creative activity in the real sense can take place...

But those of us hoping to have long careers as professional writers have to develop an autoimmune system of our own that can resist the dangerous (in some cases lethal) toxin that resides within. Do this, and we can more efficiently dispose of even stronger toxins. In other words, we can create even more powerful narratives to deal with these. But you need a great deal of energy to create an immune system and maintain it over a long period. You have to find that energy somewhere, and where else to find it but in our own basic being?"

-What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


Anonymous said...

Right on, Dave. I love me some Murakami. WITAWITAR is a gem. My favorite part is toward the end of the book when he talks about his failures and successes participating in triathlons. I also like this, in reference to a marathon gone badly:

"There are three reasons I failed. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training."

He may as well be talking about writing (which, I imagine, he is): to get at the really good stuff, we have to write and write and keep writing. There is really no better preparation for writing well except to write.

David Oppegaard said...

yes, I have to agree to that!

Post a Comment