what i talk about when i talk about running-haruki murakami

“I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all the people around me. I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person, but with an unspecified number of readers. As long as I got my day-to-day life set so that each work was an improvement over the last, then many of my readers would welcome whatever life I chose for myself. Shouldn’t this be my duty as a novelist, and my top priority? My opinion hasn’t changed over the years. I can’t see my readers’ faces so in a sense it’s a conceptual type of human relationship, but I’ve consistently considered this invisible, conceptual relationship to be the most important thing in my life.” (37-8)

“The same can be said about my profession. In the novelist’s profession, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as winning or losing. Maybe numbers of copies sold, awards won, and critic’s praise serve as outward standards for accomplishment in literature, but none of them really matter. What’s crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you’ve set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can’t fool yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically, a writer has a quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.” (10)

so i didn’t win a strombo bobblehead today, but the lovely couple beside me who went to his high school did, so it’s all good. this weather is a bit distressing, but i have to say i appreciate the chance to strut about in my leather jacket and the finery that i procured from the clothing swap that i hosted on the weekend. i brought some things to the kind exchange and traded for some great bangles and got to cavort with another great couple of marriage candidates-congrats courtenay and jeff. i blog this before i leave for dinner at la carnita and i look forward to any resto that uses that many hip hop references in their bio (let’s hope it’s not in a hipstrionic way). i listened to the great philly free library podcast this morning with thomas kellar and i was excited by a lot of ideas mentioned-the creativity of using supersoakers to create steam in one’s oven to achieve great bread, and the idea of the cookbook audience being the chefs-“i’m always asked this question of if i’ve written for the home chef. well, who is the home chef? i know home chefs who can barely boil water and i know home chefs that are almost as good as i am. we write for ourselves, just like we cook for ourselves when you come to the restaurants. you want that-i have very high standards and if i’m presenting you something that pleases me, chances are, it will please you.” brilliant. and exactly the same sentiment as the above, taken from the bedside table of one great lady. thanks for letting me poach….


2 thoughts on “what i talk about when i talk about running-haruki murakami

  1. music makes me high:

    “On the body of the bike is written ’18 Til I Die,’ the name of a Bryan Adams hit. It’s a joke, of course. Being eighteen until you die means you die when you’re eighteen.” (139)

    “I’m not really sure how many records I have in my home right now. I’ve never counted them, and it’s too scary to try. Ever since I was fifteen I’ve bought a huge number of records, and gotten rid of a huge number. The turnover is so fast I can’t keep track of the total. They come, they go. But the total number of records is most definitely increasing. The number, though, is not the issue. If somebody asks me how many records I have, all I can say is, ‘Seems like I have a whole lot. But still not enough.’” (143)

    “When we pass each other’s breathing, and sense the way the other person is ticking away the moments. Much like two writers perceive each other’s diction and style.” (85)

    “A lot of runners now use iPods, but I prefer the MD player I’m used to. It’s a little bigger than an iPod and can’t hold nearly as much data, but it works for me. At this point I don’t want to mix music and computers. Just like it’s not good to mix friends and work, and sex.” (14)

  2. going balls deep:

    “From the world’s viewpoint this makes perfect sense. And most people didn’t think I could make it as a professional writer. But I couldn’t follow their advice. I’m the kind of person who has to totally commit to whatever I do. I just couldn’t do something clever like writing a novel while someone else ran the business. I had to give it everything I had. If I failed, I could accept that. But I knew that if I did things halfheartedly and they didn’t work out. I’d always have regrets.” (31)

    “At any rate, that’s how I started running. Thirty-three-that’s how old I was then. Still young enough, though no longer a /young man/. The age that Jesus Christ died. The age that Scott Fitzgerald started to go downhill. That age may be a kind of crossroads in life. That was the age when I began my life as a runner, and it was my belated, but real, starting point as a novelist.” (47)

    no mention of scottie pippen here…

    “The healthy and unhealthy are not necessarily on opposite ends of the spectrum. They don’t stand in opposition to each other, but rather complement each other, and in some cases even band together. Sure, many people who are on a healthy track in life think only of good health, while those who are getting unhealthy think only of that. But if you follow this sort of one-sided view, your life won’t be fruitful.” (98)

    “I find it more comfortable to use my far-from-perfect English than Japanese. I think this is because when I have to speak seriously about something in Japanese I’m overcome with the feeling of being swallowed up in a sea of words. There’s an infinite number of choices for me, infinite possibilities. As a writer, Japanese and I have a tight relationship. So if I’m going to speak in front of an undefined large group of people, I grow confused and frustrated with faced by that teeming ocean of words.
    With Japanese, I want to cling, as much as I can, to the act of sitting alone at my desk and writing. On this home ground of writing I can catch hold of words and context effectively, just the way I want to, and turn them into something concrete. That’s my job, after all. But once I try to actually speak about things I was sure I’d pinned down, I feel very keenly that something-something very important-has spilled out and escaped. And I just can’t accept that sort of disorienting estrangement.
    Once I try to put together a talk in a foreign language, and though, inevitably my linguistic choices and possibilities are limited: much as I love reading books in English, speaking in English is definitely not my forte. But that makes me feel all the more comfortable giving a speech.” (100-1)

    “Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness.” (66)

    “You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.” (104)

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