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Advance look at Haruki Murakami’s next–

Stolen from Jenny Davidson’s page… thanks so much, Jenny!

Writing novels, to me, is basically a kind of manual labor. Writing itself is mental labor, but finishing an entire book is closer to manual labor. It doesn’t involve heavy lifting, running fast, or leaping high. Most people, though, only see the surface reality of writing and think of writers as involved in quiet, intellectual work done in their study. If you have the strength to lift a coffee cup, they figure, you can write a novel. But once you try your hand at it, you soon find that it isn’t as peaceful a job as it seems. The whole process—sitting at your desk, focusing your mind like a laser beam, imagining something out of a blank horizon, creating a story, selecting the right words, one by one, keeping the whole flow of the story on track—requires far more energy, over a long period, than most people ever imagine. You might not move your body around, but there’s grueling, dynamic labor going on inside you. Everybody uses their mind when they think. But a writer puts on an outfit called narrative and thinks with his entire being, and for the novelist that process requires putting into play all your physical reserve, often to the point of overexertion.


[W]riters who aren’t blessed with much talent—those who barely make the grade—need to build up their strength at their own expense. They have to train themselves to improve their focus, to increase their endurance. To a certain extent they’re forced to make these qualities stand in for talent. And while they’re getting by on these, they may actually discover real, hidden talent within them. They’re sweating, digging out a hole at their feet with a shovel, when they run across a deep, secret water vein. It’s a lucky thing, but what made this good fortune possible was all the training they did that gave them the strength to keep on digging.

Yes, yes, yes–I find this is so encouraging. Because part of me has always felt it is ‘wrong’ to study techniques & to practice… ‘wrong’ if the writing doesn’t flow out of you like a burst of arterial blood. This is permission to enjoy the work of writing–even more important, permission to call it ‘work’ & so enjoy the difficulty, the efforts & the step by step progress!

7 Responses

  1. dxzuaogl ligm khqfunax otsqp bhnau kqygz ahkxsmwpd

  2. […] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by skyatwork on 2008-08-10 Advance look at Haruki Murakami’s next– https://ovidiayu.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/advance-look-at-haruki-murakamis-next/ – bookmarked by 2 […]

  3. thank you so much, Kirsten, Mahita-D & Damyantig–I loved the quotes & glad you did too!

    Can’t wait for my copy of Running Novelist!!

    (Have replied to you on email, Min Er–hope you got it?)

  4. Thanks for posting this. After a gruelling day, this is exactly the kind of thing I needed to hear from someone like Murakami.

  5. Thank you for posting this. Even though I am not a fiction writer–I write creative non-fiction, the same rules apply. It is hard work–extremely hard work. It takes dedication–it takes everything I have some days to sit down and write. I get frustrated when I tell people what I do and they look at me like I am one step a way from hanging out in bed munching on bonbons. It’s nice to be validated.

  6. Have only read two of Murakami’s novels and am convinced that he’s one of the most amazing contemporary fiction writers. Anything he says about writing, I’m gonna believe whole-heartedly!

  7. Hello Ovidia!

    I’m not sure which is the best way to contact otherwise, so I apologise first of all for posting an irrelevant comment on this entry.

    Basically I needed to ask you for printing rights to a couple of scripts you have on NLB infopedia as some of my O’Level Drama students might be using them for their coursework next year. They need it soon to start preparations, and since the email address they provided didn’t seem to work, I had to resort to this.

    Pls contact me at the email I’ve provided so I can discuss this with you?

    Thank you very much!

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