In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Murakami talks about running in different parts of the world- Athens, Hokkaido, and New York. He spends a great deal of time training for marathons and comes across as a runner with a mission- he intentionally trains on hills to get used to elevations and works his muscles regularly so that his running does not suffer.
All this training gets to you. He talks about a marathon he walked in Japan that made him tired of running altogether. It can happen that you have so much focus that you pass the threshold, but once you cross the limit and beat the body aches, your mind turns into an empty place; you feel you have achieved something. After that, Murakami found running tiresome for a while. So he decided to start on triathlons- with a bit of swimming and cycling as relief, though cycling is not his favorite sport.
When I read this book, I felt like I was running a marathon as well, looking at the changing seasons and continents around me. Murakami sprinkles the narrative with his ideas about writing and that feels like the mind of a runner who is also a writer. A writer needs talent, he says, no doubt about it. But that’s not enough to sustain him.
“The problem with talent, though, is that in most cases the person involved can’t control its amount or quality. You might find the amount isn’t enough and you want to increase it, or you might try to be frugal to make it last longer, but in neither case do things work out that easily.”
Talent dries up. But focus can help as can endurance.
“What’s needed for a writer of fiction–at least one who hopes to write a novel–is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years.”
That’s a tall order, and aspiring writers would do well to abide by this advice. Read this book now!