His insights may help you (even if you’re not a runner) better grasp the challenges that you face as you sit down at your desk each morning.
In these brief excerpts, he talks about the qualities a novelist needs in order to write the novels that he or she hopes to write:
In every interview I’m asked what’s the most important quality a novelist has to have. It’s pretty obvious: talent. No matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a pre-requisite than a necessary quality. If you don’t have any fuel, even the best car won’t run.And he comments on a writer’s need for willpower in this note on Raymond Chandler:
The next most important quality is... focus–the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it.
After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance.... 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.... Continuing to breathe while you hold your breath.
In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him.And he offers readers a sense, too, of how he approaches rewriting and revising:
As I write, I arrange my thoughts. And rewriting and revising takes my thinking down even deeper paths. No matter how much I write, though, I never reach a conclusion. And no matter how much I rewrite, I never reach the destination. Even after decades of writing, the same still holds true.These thoughts, which you’ll find sprinkled throughout Murakami’s reflections on his ambitions as a marathon runner and triathlon athlete, rise to the surface of this memoir, revealing how a writer like Murakami has succeeded in meeting the numerous challenges of the writing process over years of writing.
Visit Murakami’s website to learn more about his work, as well as to read a number of interviews with him: http://www.murakami.ch/main_2.html
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