Monday, May 04, 2009

When Haruki Murakami Chose To Be Poor

Part something-or-other in an ongoing series wherein I read things about great authors whose early-30's were not exactly financially successful — largely to comfort myself with delusions of being in good company.

From a truncated version of Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" that appeared in (as with the first installment of this series) the New Yorker:
For three years I ran my jazz club-keeping the accounts, checking the inventory, scheduling my staff, standing behind the counter mixing cocktails and cooking, closing up in the wee hours of the morning, and only then being able to write, at home, at the kitchen table, until I got sleepy. I felt as if I were living two people's lives. And, gradually, I found myself wanting to write a more substantial kind of novel. I had enjoyed the process of writing my first two books, but there were parts of both that I wasn't pleased with. I was able to write only in spurts, snatching bits of time-a half hour here, an hour there-and, because I was always tired and felt as if I were competing against the clock, I was never able to concentrate very well. With this scattered kind of approach I was able to write a few interesting, fresh things, but the result was far from complex or profound. I felt as if I'd been given this wonderful opportunity to be a novelist, and I had a natural desire to take that opportunity as far as I possibly could. So, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to close the business and focus solely on writing. At this point, my income from the jazz club was significantly more than my income as a novelist, a reality to which I resigned myself.

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