I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.

I’m the kind of person who has to totally commit to whatever I do. I just couldn’t do something clever like writing a novel while someone ran the business. I had to give it everything I had. If I failed, I could accept that. But I knew that if I did things halfheartedly and they didn’t work out, I’d always have regrets.

-Haruki Murakami What I talk about when I talk about running


You can’t fool yourself

Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop everyday at the point where feel I can write more.

In the novelist’s profession, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as winning or losing. Maybe numbers of copies sold, awards won, and critics’ praise serve as outward standards for accomplishment in literature, but none of them really matter. What’s crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you’ve set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away.

When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can’t fool yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike.  Basically a writer has a quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.

By sticking my nose into all sorts of places, I acquired the practical skills I needed to live. Without those ten tough years I don’t think I would have written novels, and even if I’d tried, I wouldn’t have been able to.

-Haruki Murakami What I talk about when I talk about running 


If you don’t keep repeating a mantra of some sort to yourself, you’ll never survive.

The happiest thing about becoming a professional writer was that I could go to bed early and get up early.

But you can’t keep up that kind of life forever. Just as with school, you enter it, learn something, and then it’s time to leave.

So my new, simple, and regular life began. I got up before five a.m. and went to bed before ten p.m. People are at their best at different times of day…

-Haruki Murakami What I talk about when I talk about running

What you don’t learn at school

From elementary school up to college I was never interested in things I was forced to study. I told myself it was something that had to be done, so I wasn’t a total slacker and was able to go on to college, but never once did I find studying exciting.

As a result, though my grades weren’t the kind you have to hide from people, I don’t have any memory of being praised for getting a good grade or being the best in anything.

I only began to enjoy studying after I got through the educational system and became a so-called member of society. If something interested me, and I could study it at my own pace and approach it the way I liked, I was pretty efficient at acquiring knowledge and skills.

The art of translation is a good example. I learned it on my own, the pay-as-you-go method. It takes a lot of time to acquire a skill this way, and you go through a lot of trial and error, but what you learn sticks with you.

I always want to advise teachers not to force all junior and senior high school students to run the same course, but I doubt anybody’s going to listen to me.

That’s what schools are like.

The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.

-Haruki Murakami What I talk about when I talk about running


‘Modernity is permanently recyclable’

Architectural historians may mourn the coming demolition of such Modernist treasures as the lantern-lit, East-meets-West lobby of the Okura.

But I doubt my Japanese neighbors will waste much time regretting the fact that the Jetsons need an upgrade.

Modernity is permanently recyclable in Japan, and seeking out the new is in fact the country’s oldest tradition.

As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa had it, famously, in “The Leopard,” his novel of 19th-century Sicily, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

-Pico Iyer ‘In Japan, history has no place‘ T Magazine

Ignoring perceptions, trappings of celebrity

‘I learned to not feel responsible to other people’s perceptions of who you are,’ she said. ‘I suppose I’ve gone through a process of maturation, in a way, because running the company is a public position.’

She ignores the trappings of celebrity as best she can, and advises younger actresses not to go on social media, which ‘creates a culture of self-consciousness.’

She is drawn to figures who ‘have utterly shedded self-consciousness but are completely masters of their technique, like Louise Bourgeois and Georgia O’Keeffe. They’ve got that raw, wrought intelligence.’

-Cate Blanchett in Christine Smallwood’s ‘On edge‘ The New York Times Style Magazine

Most formative

The movies that meant a lot to me were ones I saw when I was like 16, 17 years old, but of course “E.T.” was important to me as a kid. Bertolucci’s “1900” was a big deal. Another big one in our house was “The Blue Lagoon.”

I think the most influential movies are the ones you see at formative times in your life.

Just like you can’t choose your name, you can’t choose the movies you love. It’s something that happens to you, and all of a sudden it’s a part of you.

-Alice Rohrwacher ‘Sofia Coppola interviews the sisters behind her favorite new film‘ T Magazine