To Run a Marathon

right now I’ve put aside David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” and have taken up a brief excursion: Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” First, I just needed a break from Wallace’s endless march of words. Second, Murakami is my favorite writer and the opportunity to finally read another of his books is something I couldn’t resist after walking into Borders with a decent sized coupon and finally finding it in paperback.

reading about what other writers think of writing and how they do it isn’t always of interest to me. I’ve read about Stephen King’s habits, the way Kerouac, Ginsberg and clan put themselves together, and maybe one or two others; now including Murakami.

Some degree of physical fitness seems to be a common denominator among people who write for a living. This isn’t saying all writers have to run marathons or that there aren’t writers who are larger bodied. But it seems like the norm is to be at least average in physical fitness.

Murakami mentions a toxin that builds up as you write. He didn’t mean it literally, writing doesn’t somehow allow a build up of mercury in your blood or anything, but that writing is something that has the ability to make you feel pretty crappy. It’s stressful, it’s difficult, it’s lonesome. It seems being fit, or healthy – pick your term -, is a way of neutralizing this.  It’s easier to sit down and write every day when you feel good. maybe it’s as simple as that. And I know, from personal experience, that the better shape I’m in, the less junk food I’m munching on, the more exercise I’m getting, the better I feel and the more often and more productively I write. It helps me find balance. So I guess it’s back to the Wii Fit for me.


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