Reading: Novelist as Vocation by Haruki Murakami

I really never intended this site to turn into a book blog, but once I started tracking my reading here, it only makes sense to at least briefly write about the books. It seems best to do this to capture first impressions of my first read of the book. If I go back to collect notes and write a summary, then hopefully those notes would lead to a bit more in depth exploration of these themes.

I’ve read most of Haruki Murakami’s books. This collection of essays on the process of writing, Novelist as Vocation, speaks so clearly with the voice that one gets to know through reading the stories and novels. Murakami has written like this before, in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which is also a memoir centered around a personal activity that reveals as much about the man as it does the activity.

Like his book on running, this book on writing serves as a memoir that reflects Murakami’s attitude towards the act of creation. Which is pretty simple- sit down and trust the process to produce work. It seems Murakami’s process is very inwardly directed, so the production is not forced or overly planned. It’s intuitive at the start.

But then the craft of editing begins, polishing the output until it seems like a finished product.You can see how Murakami reflects on the work in progress both to improve the work but also to develop his skills as a writer. He found an audience early on, but as he has developed, his audience has grown. While he has high regard for his readers, he sees them a coming along with him on his personal journey. Clearly he’s thought about how to get his work out in front of that audience, but he writes for himself, knowing there are those willing to buy books to see what he’s been up to.

There’s plenty of overlap with Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act, probably because of these creators focus on craft and production without much pretension. Both emphasize creation for the sake of self, not for audience. I’d recommend both books to those who find personal satisfaction from the act of creation. I think both provide good advice from accomplished master craftsmen on how to work on craft.

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