Last fall I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running ( hereafter “Running“) by Haruki Murakami. It’s a small book with nicely spaced lines of text. A quick read.
As you may well imagine, even before you open the yellow and red cover, Running is neither a running or writing book. It is about life. Murakami talks of owning a jazz bar in Tokyo in the 1960s. And hating it, but working hard. One day he decides to write a novel, submits it and wins a prize. His life begins as a novelist when he sells the bar and turns his full attention to writing. His writing success continues, but is secondary to his discussions of running. Murakami credits running for his writing success. He draws many similarities between the two pursuits. The solitary approach required by each. The pain of each. The decision to not suffer. The focus required.
Running provides a practical approach to life. Murakami talks of struggling with his slowing marathon time. Training harder, longer, or differently does not help. He is simply growing old and slowing down. He acknowledges that this doesn’t translate to writing. That writers peak at varying ages.
The bottom line is that to be successful running a bar, writing fiction, or running marathons, he has to work hard and be extremely focused.