I always find it interesting to read writers (or rather artists in general) autobiographies and thoughts on their own craft, so when I saw that Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation was getting an English translation I knew I had to read it. The book is a series of essays that Murakami wrote about his thoughts on writers and novels. Some of them were serialised in a magazine in Japan, and the collection was released in 2015 in Japanese, before getting an English translation in 2022.
Whether you’re a writer or just a big read that’s interested in the writing process, this is definitely worth reading. It’s insightful, and written in a really conversational way. Even if the book isn’t an autobiography throughout the essays it feels like you know Murakami, even just a little bit. It’s like listening to him in person talking about his style and thoughts on writing.
I really enjoyed reading the way he approaches writing and it’s very different to other books I’ve read on the subject. He seems to take a much more relaxed way to prepare for a novel, letting it grow inside of his mind until the compulsion to write it unbearable and then he goes on a very strict routine in order to get the work done, writing the same amount of words a day until the book is done no matter how long that takes.
It’s also very inspiring to see how he came to be a writer, not only was he nearing thirty the first time he thought about writing a novel, when he finished his first draft he didn’t like it. The idea that getting the story finished, even if it’s no good, because it can always be improved is a great motivation to actually sit down and start writing.
Inside these pages isn’t the secret to writing a novel. It’s not a how-to guide. It’s simply Murakami’s reflection on his career from literary prizes to his daily routine. He openly admits this isn’t the only right way to write. It’s very interesting to read and I found it very motivating. After reading an essay I would be immediately filled with creative energy and want to start writing my own stories. It definitely made me want to read more of Murakami’s work.
Thanks for reading!