Posted by: miki | May 14, 2008

An Spiegel interview with Murakami

I chose an Spiegel interview with the japanese writer Haruki Murakami for our first activity.

But, before we begin, I’d like to tell you a little history =)!

I made a really good friend through my foodblog “Cabeça-Gorda“: she is Karen. Karen is the person who made me start blogging!

Besides our mutual interest about cooking, we also loved Murakami’s book. By the way, her blog’s name is “Kafka na Praia“, a free translation for “Kafka on the shore”. This was before the book was released here in Brazil.

To be honest, I’ve read only two books from Murakami (both in Portuguese): “Sputinik sweetheart” and “A wild sheep chase”. The first book I read was “Sputinik sweetheart” and I was completely amazed about it. Then, I bought “A wild sheep chase” but… I didn’t like it very much.

On the other hand, my friend Karen is almost a Murakami’s fanatic (hihi)! She has read all of his books available in English or Portuguese! I’ve invited her to write with me in my blog about books, but the more correct would be saying that is her blog, not ours =)! If you go there, you’ll find a lot of posts about Murakami =).

Nowadays I’m reading “Kafka on the shore” and I am completely crazy fo the book! I wish I could stop the time, the world, everything just to read it till the last sheet!

The article I’ve read for our first activity was posted by Karen (right, when she posted I’ve read it in Portuguese, but now I read the full article in English hehehe).

I love reading about the creative process of another artists. Sometimes you think that only you has a certain issue to solve, but when you can hear from your partners, you realize that they had the same issues to think about!

I liked this part:

“Sometimes I find it too hot to run, and sometimes too cold. Or too cloudy. But I still go running. I know that if I didn’t go running, I wouldn’t go the next day either. It’s not in human nature to take unnecessary burdens upon oneself, so one’s body soon becomes disaccustomed. It mustn’t do that. It’s the same with writing. I write every day so that my mind doesn’t become disaccustomed. So that I can gradually set the literary yardstick higher and higher, just as running regularly makes your muscles stronger and stronger.”

I liked it because it showed me that the auto-imposition of semanal writings I had impose to myself can be considered an exercise to accustom my mind and my body. Sometimes I feel a little bit silly or masochist when I thought about forcing a situation to be fulfilled by myself :-s!

In another part, he says:

“SPIEGEL: You grew up as an only child; writing is a lonely business, and you always run alone. Is there some connection between these things?

Murakami: Definitely. I am used to being alone. And I enjoy being alone. Unlike my wife, I don’t like company. I have been married for 37 years, and often it is a battle. In my previous job I often worked until dawn, now I’m in bed by nine or ten.”

I am an only child too and all of my businesses are lonely businesses also. But, Lord, I miss people so much! The solitude makes me so unhappy! I wish I could enjoy being alone like him =)!

And finally, I was very happy to know about his unusual process of creation! I could never imagine!

“Murakami: When a writer develops a story, he is confronted with a poison that is inside him. If you don’t have that poison, your story will be boring and uninspired. It’s like fugu: The flesh of the pufferfish is extremely tasty, but the roe, the liver, the heart can be lethally toxic. My stories are located in a dark, dangerous part of my consciousness, I feel the poison in my mind, but I can fend off a high dose of it because I have a strong body. When you are young, you are strong; so you can usually conquer the poison even without being in training. But beyond the age of 40 your strength wanes, you can no longer cope with the poison if you lead an unhealthy life.”

While a lot of people talk about sources of inspiration, Murakami has a very different and extraordinary way to create his stories! Wow!


  1. Dear Miki,

    I loved your first article. Besides being very articulate and able to arrange different references into a unified whole (Spiegel interview, Karen, blogging, Murakami’s books, creative process), you picked an engaging and delightful point of view.

    Your English is very fluent. Laurent also read the article and was impressed by your control of the language. You made only minor mistakes, a couple of sentences that we could rephrase together later. However, before getting into them, I will comment the content.

    Thanks for sharing Spiegel’s interview with Murakami. I’ve never thought about all the characteristics that long-distances running and writing have in common. He says: ‘no one else is involved, but you are engaged in an inner conflict’. That is so true. When I started running one year ago, I could not jog for more than 2 minutes without stopping. Laurent always pushed me: ‘you are not going to give up, Pat, keep going!’ I would breathe and restart. Nowadays, I am able to run 10k, but sometimes I still ‘hit the wall’ (I feel that I cannot go any further). You selected an excerpt where he mentions the importance of overcoming challenges, physical (for running) or mental/emotional (for writing).

    I am not sure if I told you, but I also enjoy writing, especially fiction, poems and short-stories. Last year, I tried to create an online story with weekly posts as well. It was an intensive process (to paraphrase you, a masochistic routine) and I gave up. Today, I regret letting it drop. However, at that time, I could not see a direction and felt pressured to write, to fulfill my expectations, to create something new and enjoyable every time.

    Perhaps, this exercise of creating a blog in English has a connection with this creative process. Even if we make minor mistakes every now and then, Miki, we should write for fun, for the pleasure of trying and learning something new. We can already communicate ideas in English, and I think that both of us are seeking ways to further express ourselves. Normally, I just write business contracts, letters and emails in English. I’ve never tried to write creatively. Making this blog with you is also an opportunity for me.

    I did not know that you were the only child. Laurent does not have brothers or sisters also and he is always complaining about it. He talks about his childhood and how it was difficult to entertain himself without friends, when it was late at night. That was how you started creating dolls?

    I will write more later. Love,


    PS: Miki, please, feel free to change the layout of the blog. =D

  2. Dear Miki,

    Let me show you the very few instances where I feel that we could rephrase in order to sound more natural. Laurent is helping us out ^.^:

    – ”…but the more correct would be saying that is her blog, not ours” >> …but it would be more correct to say that it is her blog, not ours.”

    – “…I wish I could stop the time” >> I wish I could stop time (not ‘the time’, the time is for a specific moment, such as ‘what is the time now?’)

    – ”…I love reading about the creative process of another artists. >> other artists or another artist.”

    – “…Sometimes you think that only you has a certain issue to solve, but when you can hear from your partners…>> you (has) have a certain issue, but when you (can) hear from your (partners) peers.”

    – “…the auto-imposition of semanal writings >> weekly writings“

    “…I had impose to myself >> I have imposed (to) on myself”

    That is all, Miki! You have a perfect English, better than most Americans. ohoh ^.^ Congratulations.

  3. Dear Pat,

    First of all, I hope you accept my apologies. It was a looong week and sometimes I felt like if I am running in circles like a dog running behind its tail =(. To be sincere, I think I procrastinate soooo much and that I have to do something about it. Every time I swear I will try something to solve this, but I couldn’t succeed until now. But I will keep trying!

    I am very very very happy with your comment and nor in my most daring dream I can imagine that my English is that fluent. I can’t believe in your words yet. When I read after things that I’ve been writing, it always looks to me a “hard” text, it always look a text “on the foot of the letter”! So hear this pleasant comment from you sounds like music in my ears =)!

    Pat, my husband Tung also used to train to Triathlon competitions about three years ago. I always hate any kind of exercise but walking (in plane streets for God’s sake!). With an appropriate pair of sneakers, I could walk a lot of kilometers! Well, in those times, I’ve tried to run, but it didn’t work very well! I was pretty tired in seconds and always thinking: “If I just walk in a hurry, I could easily go faster than this ridiculous “trotting” (I don’t know if it is the expression in English)!” Well, I could see a little progress but then I began to feel a pain in my heel… We went to the doctor and he said all I had to do was a couple of physiotherapy sessions.

    Well, meanwhile I bought my very first dog and was completely in love with her! Her name was Safiri. Then, all in the world was for Safiri! It was the perfect excuse to give up running =). I am terrible, am I not? I know I am. So this is the way I give up running even before starting… I admire people like you, Laurent and Tung that can keep running! Definitively it’s not for me!

    I think you don’t tell me that you enjoy writing, but anyone that reads the inspired posts in your blog automatically guess that you love writing! And how about your lovely “micro-stories”? And the way you quickly picked up and accepted and was pleased about the “game” of writing micro-stories together! No, I have no doubts that you really enjoy writing =). I can feel it when I read your stories.

    Was your online story the Alice’s story? Or is it another one? I think that sometimes we are very strict with ourselves… And we are this way – well, that’s my particular opinion – because we are affraid of a bad judgment about our capacities, about ourselves in the last instance. We are so exposed when we write something. When we play any kind of artistic expression to broaden the idea/concept. And because of this, we begin to feel very pressured. Sometimes I feel a little bit lost. I am a little desperate because I can’t get the appropriate distance from my text to judge it. I’m trying to write my chapters of mikokeshi’s story in the begining of the week so the text can have its “drawer time” (I like to call it like this: “tempo de gaveta”) but I could not reach the perfect timing until now. But I keep trying!

    I feel so happy that you consider our blog an opportunity of writing creatively in English! And I am so thankfull to you for your kindness in accept my request about helping me to improve my English! I wish I can improve my English as fast as possible to write creatively as well as you =)!

    Pat, I think that not much people know tha I am an only child :-D. I think I would like the experience having brothers or sisters. But I am very jealous creature too. With my mother for example hihihi. So, it could be very hard for me also =). You are knowing my dark side ;-)! But I think my Mom had a great job (in my humble opinion hoho) and I try to police me now and every time to avoid being a spoiled person. I don’t know if it works, but I’m trying =). Honto desu ne!

    Well, answering your question, I never think about that: if the creation of dolls and the fact of being an only child has a link… I will think about, Pat.

    Thanks for the lovely “letter”.

    Bisous, Miki

  4. Pat & Laurent, thanks for the hints (is that the correct word?)

    I will comment some of them:

    “…Sometimes you think that only you has a certain issue to solve, but when you can hear from your partners…>> you (has) have a certain issue, but when you (can) hear from your (partners) peers.”

    – hihihi. The typical example of thinking in Portuguese and trying to translate “on the foot of the letter”. It sounded very strange but I didn’t know how to express!
    – “You has” foi péssimo!!! no comments o.O
    – the rephrased text sounds so perfect! But I think it will take some time untill my brain and my ears could create the phrases in a natural way =)

    “…the auto-imposition of semanal writings >> weekly writings“
    – “semanal” looks so natural when I wrote :-s!

    “…I had impose to myself >> I have imposed (to) on myself”
    – the prepositions… I’m always in doubt about its use!

    Ah! Pat, I didn’t have time to change the blog’s layout. Anyway, I liked the theme you choose ^.^! Much better than the other one.

  5. […] Inspired by your post about writing, May 14th. This story is about the magical sources of creativity and the challenges of […]

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