What I Talk About When I Talk About Writing

Based on the title, you could guess that I’m a fan of Haruki Murakami. Here, I attempt to write about why I write and why I started this blog. I actually wrote this within the first month of starting my blog and only got to edit and proofread this a couple months later. I’d consider this a delayed publish, so without further ado, my own personal essay on writing:

It helps to write about something you’re passionate about. I remember incorporating sports into some of my papers in school and feeling very proud about my work once I’ve finished. More so, I receive fairly favorable feedback and grades from my professors and I’ve made myself some bit of a platform, a stepping stone with those, thus I’ve decided to go out and keep writing even outside of school requirements. I feel I have a way with words, being the introspective and bookworm that I am. One’s reading feeds one’s writing, I believe. I like to read books, with a particular interest in works by Japanese authors such as my personal favorite, Haruki Murakami, who I identify as my true inspiration for writing. Now I’m venturing into putting my thoughts in writing, organizing them in a manner similar to the style of some of the authors I admire, and taking these thoughts and opinions to a fairly public space by way of a blog. Normally, I’m a very quiet, bashful person who leads a private life, so it really is a venture for me to write a blog and share my thoughts through it.

By writing, I get to accomplish a couple of my objectives, one is to improve and develop through practice my flow and craft with words and another is to exercise my thought process. It takes me a while to organize my thoughts and construct ideas, which is why I find it more comfortable to convey my thoughts in writing than in speaking. I don’t feel like I’m an effective speaker as I usually jumble up words and phrases when I speak. A friend once told me about how he feels that “his mouth works faster than his brain,” saying that it might be the reason why sometimes he ends up blurting out something random. I offered that my problem might be the opposite of his, whereby I think “my brain works faster than my mouth.” I thought it might be an accurate assessment. More often than not, whenever I deliver a presentation or speak in front of a class, the reason for my stuttering and jumbling up words is that my brain seems to race against my mouth, always thinking two ideas ahead of what I say. My thought process might be too fast for my speaking ability and that’s why writing helps slow things down for me to form ideas, theses, and opinions in an organized manner, bringing forth the coherence I lose in my speaking.

In a way, I see writing as a kind of therapy for me. Through the process of writing, the end-product is a written picture, a snapshot, an overview of the thoughts that once lay dormant in my mind, brought forth in a more sensible form. Instead of letting my thoughts run stale and unshared in mind, writing them down in a way immortalizes them. If I want to revisit some of my ideas and memories, I can go look for a written account and I could easily refresh my imagination, I could transport myself back to the thought process I once had. No thought, no memory is left forgotten for they are preserved in the form of words.

Now that I’ve enumerated the benefits of writing, at least for me, I’ll now share what motivates me to write. As I mentioned in my introduction, I could call myself a bookworm because I always try reading at least one book when I have time to do it. I’m not the prolific reader type who could devour books one right after another, reaching up to a hundred books read in a year. I’m a normal, relaxed kind of reader. On a good year, I could only finish up to twenty or thirty books. I read mostly novels, although I have read and finished from cover to cover a couple of history books (one on China and another on Korea), as well as Haruki Murakami’s non-fiction work, Underground, and his memoir (more on that later). As far as non-fiction is concerned, that’s about it for me, as all of the other books I have read are fiction.

One might ask me why I don’t write stories even though I read a lot of fiction. The thing is, my creative writing capabilities have yet to be tapped and I wish I could improve on this. I may have the skill to write but as imaginative as I think I am, I just couldn’t properly cook up a nicely connected and coherent story with engaging conflict. I usually write based on what I experience and I’m thinking that if I’m going to be a novelist, I need to gain more life experiences. Perhaps I need to save up money to do some more traveling, as I find that as an effective way to experience the world and broaden one’s bank of inspirations in the form of memories. One day I wish I could emulate the works of authors I admire but as of now, I could only practice. Maybe a good story will come to me one day and I would start writing novels. As Murakami recounts in his memoir, he was close to thirty years old when he attended a baseball game and while sitting in the outfield, it just suddenly came to him that he’d write stories and be a novelist. When I attended the F1 Singapore Grand Prix this year, I remembered this and thought I could find inspiration in a similar manner as the author as I sat high up in the grandstand, peacefully watching cars during a practice session. So far, no inspiration has gotten to me yet; perhaps I should attend more Formula One grand prix events and sit in a grandstand until a story idea taps me on the shoulder and tells me to write it all down.

Anyway, while I work on my craft to be a budding novelist, it’s blogger for me right now. As seen in this blog, I write about Formula One racing but I don’t want to limit myself to only one topic. I want to see this blog as, aside from a collection of my opinions on various F1-related issues, also a collection of essays, if you will. I wrote about my Singapore Grand Prix experience in the style of a memoir (at least I think I did). Unpublished in this blog however, I also wrote about my previous two-week visit to Singapore last March to April, also this year, but I’ve kept that private. This fascination with memoir-style writing stemmed when I started reading Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. I started it in the morning, finished a few chapters and by the afternoon, I just felt the urge to write. Immediately, I thought about writing a narrative of my Singapore vacation, which was still quite fresh in my mind at that time. So I opened up my laptop and started typing away. I barely glanced away from the screen, writing and writing until the sun set and my room grew dark—I had to dial my focus down just to turn the light on. Murakami writes novels from the perspective of his main characters so that alone makes his works read like memoirs, except that, being works of fiction, crazier and more outrageous things tend to happen to the protagonist-slash-narrator and disrupts his monotonous, boring life. Moreover, ever since I started reading Murakami’s works a couple of years ago, I have sensed a certain deadpan voice to the way his protagonists narrate. I see it in the very simple way he constructs short, precise sentences to describe objects and places, as well as feelings and emotions. The Murakami brand of writing, in my opinion, is straightforward and efficient, no wasted words or energy, which I’ve embraced, seeing that it suits my own deadpan and quiet personality. In my writing, I have since tried to emulate his style. I wish Murakami could narrate my life story but I have to be careful what I wish for—one day, Super-Frog would probably come up to me and tell me to accompany him to do battle against a giant worm responsible for earthquakes in Tokyo*.

*This is a reference to Murakami’s short story Super-Frog Saves Tokyo found in After the Quake.

My desire for writing was further fed when I read Murakami’s memoir What I Talk about When I Talk About Running. I found here the same voice that I’ve read in his novels except that this time, he talks about his own life, particularly his longstanding passion for running. The author magnificently takes the reader, in quite a phenomenological manner, through all the pain and the emotional rollercoaster of running by himself the marathon distance from Athens to Marathon in Greece, and running an ultra-marathon (100 kilometer distance) in Hokkaido. His narrative style in his memoir is so easy to digest that it can really inspire me to do something similar with my own life story. Evidently, writing about one’s passion brings forth highly inspired, beautiful writing. Right now, although not a perfect analogy, I thought I could give it a shot that what running is to Murakami, Formula One racing is to me.

Hence, I write about Formula One, in general. It’s the sport that I’ve loved ever since I was a young kid. I make sure to watch every race live on television and I haven’t missed a race in years. Over time, I began to engage more with the sport. I started to follow news stories to learn about issues and listened intently on commentary to pick up talking points, which is why I pay close attention even if it’s just a free practice session. Eventually, I started to develop opinions on the various issues of the sport and felt like maybe it’s worth to give my two cents on some topics such as driver performance and the like. I thought that starting a blog as an “arm-chair pundit” would be a good way to keep up with the sport I’m passionate about and at the same time develop my writing skills.

Writing about my Singapore Grand Prix experience was a good exercise in memoir-writing. I thank Murakami prose and narrative style for being the standard I wish to attain in my efforts. I wanted to write about being a trackside spectator in a Formula One race in the same way as Murakami wrote about running. As I write this, I have yet to finish my account of the grand prix spectacle but when I do finish it, I hope I would be proud of my effort to emulate my favorite author. More so, I want to be able to look back and relive the memory through my own written account*.

*I have already finished it: 2015 Singapore Grand Prix collection

I’ll continue writing and gain confidence in sharing my works. With time and practice, eventually, I could develop writing creativity and venture into writing fiction. Until then, I’m hoping I’ll keep finding inspiration to write and satisfy the purpose of my writing, which is to preserve the thoughts, ideas, and memories that wish to occupy spaces other than my mind; thoughts and memories that speak to be immortalized in the form of words.