(First off, if you’ve not read Murakami, fix that right now.)
Open Letter To Haruki Murakami:
Chances are this letter won’t reach you. Whether it is sent to gatekeepers at Randon House or various fan sites as a sort of joke, it won’t reach you and that is for the better for all of us. You have writing to do and reading fan mail all day loses its appeal about a paragraph into the first letter. But I wanted to let you know, or pretend that I let you know, that I took a line in your book on running as a sort of personal challenge. Not a serious one. I only really compete with myself just as you say you do when running marathons. You said that an author couldn’t write with a toothache. Dostoevsky’s fiction not withstanding this seems sensible. When I heard this line I was laid up both with chronic pain, which i’ve had for years, and a toothache the likes of which you can’t imagine. Or maybe you can, but imagination does physical pain no justice.
Thankfully we forget just how awful it is when it is through. And I thought to myself- why the hell not? I’ve always challenged myself by striving to write well in noise, distracting locations. I like the image of a novelist smiling placidly as jackhammers crack and rumble all around him. (Or her. I almost feel a woman would have a better shot at this.) So I’ve gone and done the ‘impossible.’ I’m wrapping up the final first draft of a collection of short stories i’ve been calling The Words of Traitors. I’ve been told by many that it is “amongst the best writing that i’ve done.” (I don’t know what that means, really.)
They don’t know my secret. I wrote most of it in so much pain that I clung to every word like it was my last. Maybe that urgency comes through. I don’t know. This I do know: it is, in fact, possible to write with a toothache. Though for the sake of full disclosure I should admit that it is a short book: 28,000 words. Illustrations starting now. Truth is, I’m sure I could’ve written a longer book if the stories called for it, or if I could accept including more than seven short stories in the collection. I just like the number.