About “On Originality” from the essay “Novelist as a Vocation” by Haruki Murakami


I met a very memorable expression in the essay “On Originality” in the book titled: “Novelist as a Vocation” written by Haruki Murakami, who is one of the nominees for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Rakuten Books:
職業としての小説家 (新潮文庫) [ 村上 春樹 ]

The express is like this.

If you are involved in an action that is considered important and if you can’t find some natural joy in it, and if you can’t have any vitality while doing it, there might be something wrong or something Inharmonious. If you feel such a thing, you must go back again to the beginning place where you started, and you must clean up such no-needed parts, unnatural factors.
(my translation)

Murakami said such actions as “not to plus anything to me, but to minus something from me”, and he also said that when you wonder whether you should minus something or not, you should ask yourself like this “Are you able to feel joy while you are doing that?”.

I think this question might be not only a guideline for great writers or artists but also for an ordinary person like me.

What is enjoyable is different for everyone. Therefore each of us, not others or some influencers, should act according to the guideline by ourselves.

Now that I am at an age where I am aware of the time limit of my life, the question “Are you able to feel joy while you are doing that?” is a simple and powerful question.

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The Japanese version of this article is below.