Since I read it, I’ve been mentally rereading Haruki Murakami’s piece on writing and running from last week’s New Yorker. It so happens that along with being a Murakami fan, I also write and run. The essay was like the New Yorker’s combined birthday and Chanukah present for me.
In the article, Murakami admitted that he writes for the reader, or rather, the one-in-ten reader whom he hopes to make a fan. This surprised me: Murakami is generally pretty gangster about the opinions of others. That is to say, he seems to do things for his own ends, not anyone else’s.
Personally, I don’t care about my readers in the “I owe something to them” sense. I care about my readers in the “I seek approval from others” sense, which makes me a little nauseous. Knowing this about myself, I hate to promote my work, lest I don’t get the approval I seek. And even when people do like my writing, I’m too unsettled by the potential satisfaction to enjoy it.
The problem with writing, or creating anything, is that you’re either doing it for yourself (narcissist!) or you’re doing it for others (appeaser!). No matter what, there’s an undeniable element of vanity in making something. Outside of my own ego, I’m not sure why I write. Something about it just satisfies me, which I think Murakami would understand.