the writer who does not write

“I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative often self-centered nature that still doubts itself–that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I am a writer who does not write. The empty page leaves me mesmerized with its nothingness, and I, with my paralyzed thoughts, find comfort in doubt and non-action. Because why should I write? Would you even want to read what I write? After all, I write for you, right?

But I have found peace with what I am. Sure, I am a writer who does not write, but I do other things. I start my mornings with a warm cup of tea, and I genuinely enjoy a calm run in the afternoon. I watch basketball highlights in the evenings, and then I catch up on my favorite tv shows – Rick and Morty, Better Call Saul, and Mindhunter. As you can see, I’m pretty normal. There are not many differences between you and me, and perhaps nothing makes me unique except that I am a writer who does not write.

Of course, I think about what I would want to write if I ever did write. I have ideas: identity and the philosophy of mind have always been fascinating to me. Maybe I could write a science fiction story, or perhaps just a collection of short stories. Many authors have published terrific short stories. I can think of a few: Jhumpa Lahiri, Adam Johnson, Ted Chiang, and Haruki Murakami. Murakami wrote a book that I could very well imagine myself writing if I were to write. It’s called, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It is a self-reflective novel with meditations on sport, being, and writing. I would write a book like this if I ever wrote a book, except that I am a writer who does not write. 

But what if I did write? I could slug it out and write one page per day for the next three years. That would be well over 900 pages, enough to publish a book! If I did write and writing brought me peace and confidence, I would probably have readers. The readers would expect me to write more and… um, I guess I like my life now. After all, I don’t have to write, which is ok because I don’t write. My whole life, I have been a writer who does not write, and I wouldn’t be the same if all of a sudden I started writing, would I? Could you believe it? Me? A writer who does not write?

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