Novelist as a Vocation
by Haruki Murakami
Halfway through “Novelist as a Vocation,” I realized how much a Murakami fan I’ve become. Not that I’ve read all his books, mind, but I’ve devoured most of them, gained a sense of his psyche, improved my understanding of the translation process that’s so intrinsic to my enjoyment of his work, and warmed by his clarifying preamble in a short story collection.
At the beginning of this book, Murakami warns that the written word therein is reminiscent of the content delivered at a lecture opposed to a fully-realized book. This is one of the book’s strengths. There’s no stench of cynically polished productivity advice, it’s one (famous, inspiring) author’s take on his writing process, how his life has been impacted by his approach and how the world has swirled and reacted to that in the past 50 years.
The book was a delightfully lucid read. The author’s heart and craft is captured in off-the-cuff musings, made notable by his self-awareness when he repeats himself for the sake of it or when he delivers tangential rants about nuclear power and Japanese domestic policy.
On particular passage will stay with me. In a later chapter, Murakami delivers his thoughts on motivation and personal drive for satisfaction. His plain, succinct language is disarming as he delivers.
Still, not grasping what it all means, I persist in my daily running routine. Thirty years is a long time. To continue one habit that long requires a great deal of effort. How have I been able to do it? It’s because I feel like the act of running represents, concretely and succinctly, some of the things I have to do in this life.
I love the inevitability of this. The cold reasoning behind it. Committing yourself to something – not because it’s a noble thing to do – but because you’ve decided that it is something you have to do in this life.