by Archana Murthy
For this reader, the reading of memoirs is a newly acquired taste. Fiction is a love, my passion, and my friend. I tend to spend more time thinking about how a certain character could have been drawn from real life, as opposed to say, smiling over how said character may actually be dozing in some part of the planet this very night.
I chanced upon ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Haruki Murakami while browsing through my local library. Somehow this book had not featured on my ‘to-read-writers-about-writing’ list. Silly me!
Pre-conceived notions: do you see my shiny, cream-colored door? Please leave. I definitely do not think this memoir is meant only for runners or runner-writers or writer-runners. I do not run, I do not like running, and I most definitely do not aspire to run a marathon. That’s not to say that I do not admire those who set such goals for themselves. My interests lie elsewhere.
Murakami discusses focus and endurance as important qualities for a novelist. Here is an excerpt that resonated with me rather well: “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. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration is the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs. Unless you can find a balance between both, it’ll be difficult to write novels professionally over a long time. Continuing to breathe while you hold your breath.”
Who would not be inspired by Murakami’s story? As a writer who struggles with self discipline, I certainly found this book infinitely motivating and wondrous. There is no substitute for dogged perseverance; it is time for me to focus on consistency in my writing habits.
And no, I do not plan on dusting my old running shoes anytime soon but there are other aspects of my life that require some dusting. So thank you, Mr. Murakami, for inspiring me re-create my world whilst I was reading about a sliver of yours.
Which book have you met at the right place and at the right time?