Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Murakami's motto and the Devil's drink

This week, I'm taking inspiration from Haruki Murakami's surprisingly good mini memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I write "surprising" because I'm (gasp!) not a huge Murakami fan and because the book is about something that I used to love to do but can't do anymore: Running. (Duh.)

For whatever reason, though, I truly enjoyed reading this little book. It wasn't about much and yet it left me feeling so very much. Happiness, sadness, surprise, nostalgia, love, peace. I was smiling and nodding my head the entire time I was reading, and what I took away from What I Talk About was perhaps the most important inspirational realization that I've had so far: To be a good writer, one must also be in good health.

"Healthy" is often the last adjective used to describe writers. Instead "heavy drinker", "chain-smoker", "drug user" and "syphilis-stippled sex addict" are more often tied to the lives of artists. But since many of my favourites succumbed to those sins in the most terminal of ways, I've decided to join Murakami's team instead. Here's what he wrote in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running that I wholeheartedly connected with:

"Basically I agree with the view that writing novels is an unhealthy type of work. When we set off to write a novel, when we use writing to cre­ate a story, like it or not a kind of toxin that lies deep down in all humanity rises to the sur­face. All writers have to come face-to-face with this toxin and, aware of the danger involved, discover a way to deal with it, because otherwise no creative activity in the real sense can take place…. To deal with some­thing unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto. In other words, an unhealthy soul requires a healthy body. This might sound paradoxical, but it’s something I’ve felt very keenly ever since I became a professional writer. The healthy and the unhealthy are not necessarily at opposite ends of the spectrum. They don’t stand in opposition to each other, but rather complement each other, and in some cases even band together."

To be clear, I've always lived a fairly healthy lifestyle: an early rising, early-to-bed, "extra broccoli please" kind of girl. Lately, though, I've been slacking off and getting lazy, especially when it comes to food. So, since I can't run like Murakami because of my crap leg, I've decided to clean up my diet. As a vegan, I'm already doing okay, but I do have a "love-love-love-little bit of hate" relationship with sugar (in the form of candy and cereal) and caffeine (in the form of diet pop and coffee). I've been weaning myself off these things this week and, in their places, added this concoction:
It's called Chlorella. It's algae in powder form (mixed with juice and water here) and is supposed to be the healthiest "food" on the planet. Ugh. Whatever. If it was on fire, Chlorella would taste exactly like hell. No, really. It's that bad. It's green as a newborn's diaper and brings to mind the flavour of a well-fertilized soccer field. Since the photo above does not do the nastiness of this "food" justice, I offer you one that does:

So that's me and my Chlorella. What's inspiring you this week? Also, what do you think about Murakami's motto and do you agree with him when he says that writing novels is essentially unhealthy?


  1. it doesn't have to taste bad! i get the green naked juice with chlorella, spirulina, broccoli etc (you can also get it at TJs) and the taste is pretty good since they mix in fruit juice. no sugar added. try it! =)

  2. I'm on to you, Franzine. You work for the chlorella syndicate don't you? Or OR are you part of the Chlorella crime family? The Green Mafia? Because there is no way that that stuff tastes good.

  3. Haha. I laughed so hard reading this. LB bought Murakami's running memoir in Ōsaka + someday, when I actually have control over my reading again, I'm totally looking forward to reading that. And the crazy thing is, I actually love Murakami's warped mind AND I'm a dedicated runner (did the rock'n'roll 1/2 marathon months ago), so that fucking book was MADE for me!

    I agree that chlorella takes like shit, Emily. But I also agree with FK/KS that when properly blended with sweet fruit in smoothies, I mistakenly start to think that that shit is sweet, and if you can start to believe that chlorella is sweet, then well, you've already won the battle of the mind. And I'm a vegan too, so I feel your pain. I'm a little lax about sugar (though I try to use agave/organic brown sugar whenever I have control over it) because I feel like a little sweet stuff in moderation is just fine. As Aimee Bender once told me, you don't want your life to be joyless. But do whatever you've gotta do. We'll support you.

    1. Holy $#it. Am I the last person on the Internet to discover chlorella? Who knew it was such a hit with the literary crowd? I still hate the drink, but I love this discovery.

      Aimee Bender sounds like a wise woman, Jackson. People keep telling me that I need to read her. Must get on that ASAP.

  4. Somehow everyone has resisted making the pun.

    So I'll say it. On this new diet, we're all waiting for you to write the next Love in the Time of Chlorella.