What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a book that I wanted to review first for the Review and Half series that we have been doing on InstaScribe. I had read it a long time ago when I had read a couple of Murakami books and was fascinated by his writing style.
At one of our BYOB Parties, we had a discussion about there being two kinds of people- those who liked Murakamiesque and those who found his surreal style too hard to swallow.
This book, however, is nothing surreal. It’s a thin book, unlike most of his famous works of fiction. His writing is simple and uncomplicated, and that’s what draws readers to him– a sense of ordinariness, simplicity,even the mundane, that ordinary folks can identify with.
Normally, people glorify writers. They think once a writer has an fb page and her books are selling like hot cakes, she develops an aura, like the glow that comes off of a computer screen. But Murakami deconstructs the writer’s life. It’s all about discipline and putting in the hours. Nothing romantic at all. It is so essential that aspiring writers and runners read it, as both writing and running are very similar.
To run you have to keep a routine, sleep on time, and have a good diet. The same goes for writing. Murakami mentions how bad writing can be if you have the tendency to put on the pounds. This gives you the incentive to run, doesn’t it?
He talks about how he started running and how he started writing. I’ve read the story of how he started writing so many times and each time I read it I get a combination of goosebumps and envy. If you want to know how Murakami started writing, pick up this book.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
” 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.”
More about this gem next week.