I read this article about Haruki Murakami and it got me to thinking about runners, writers and misconceptions.
He is a serious writer. He is a serious runner. He came by running at the same time he decided he wanted to write a novel. He figured that if he was going to write he would need to be in top physical condition in order to sit as many hours as writing requires.
So many of us are working our full-time jobs and squeezing writing in on the commute or in hours when we could (should?) be sleeping. But Murakami took a more scientific approach believing the body had to be in shape in order for the rest to follow.
Yesterday for Mother’s Day, I went for a four mile run. It was on a beautiful, hilly limestone path that cut through a forest preserve. My oldest son went ahead on his bike and my youngest went with my husband in and out of his “batcave” (stroller sounds way to babyish for him to consider) as they went for a leisurely stroll/roll/full-out sprint/back to roll.
I don’t think about writing while I’m running. I think about breathing, about my form lest my back start to act up. I think about the sounds and I wave at other runners as they pass. I think about how poorly I treat my body most of the time and how fortunate I am that I can still set out for a run.
We got home and as any good mother would, I kicked the rambunctious duo out of the house to go play in the backyard. Soon, they had invited themselves over to my next-door neighbor’s where they proceeded to hang out with them for Mother’s Day. Yes, I know, so wrong. I thought of that as I curled up on the couch under a blanket with a book.
Alas, Mother-of-the-Year I am not.
So, as my kids celebrated Mother’s Day elsewhere, I read about writing and thought about my book, where it is working, and where it is not. I didn’t do any writing/editing because I was too tired. The run wore me out as did the night before when we stayed up late watching a movie.
I love movies and I love staying up late. I love drinking beer, nice heavy yummy beers. But I hate being tired in the morning. And I hate sleeping in.
Herein lies the dilemma.
If I really expect to do this writing thing, to be in it for the long haul, I have to modify my extremes. Sometimes you can’t have it all. I can exist on five hours of sleep a night indefinitely as far as I can tell, but I’m no good. What I mean by that is I am short-tempered with my kids, and the most I want to do after an hour running is sit down and watch a movie.
My joie de vivre up and left after the waffles were burned off.
The late night hanging out and drinking does not coincide with the life of a serious writer, despite the urban legends you may have heard. The reality is that I’m going to have a day job for a long time.
I think Murakami has a point. He decided what he wanted to do and then logically figured out his best chances for success. Very basic. (For this discussion we’ll leave out the talent he has.) If you are going to be spending a good deal of time sitting and expect to bring your full concentration and your best ideas, you’ll need sleep and exercise and to eat well enough to keep your brain in sugar, and out of beer. Sad but as far as I can tell true.
Now, the only question remains is how to get from here to there…