Monday, September 26, 2011

Babblings of a wordsmith-wannabee (All About Murakami and his “Violet Girl”)

So…Sumire. Violet. Murakami’s enigmatic, impulsive, and hardheaded female protagonist in Sputnik Sweetheart. I know that most people can relate to her behavior, but there’s just something in her that makes me feel like Murakami has written a reflection of myself. I’m sure lots of aspiring writers out there feels this way, too. And I would just like to babble about that here.

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That Distant Dream 
Becoming a writer. It’s been so long since I first saw the stardust of that faraway dream and decided to follow it. And here I am, still traveling to reach that star. In more ways than I can imagine, I can totally understand Sumire to a point she almost makes me cry. “There’s no money in that profession,” people will say. Don’t you see? It’s not the point—we just want to be happy, to create something that may last forever because our lives are as fleeting as the afterimage of a shooting star. Criticisms? Rejections? I haven’t traveled far, but I haven’t reach this point just to have my knees buckled by the slightest of disapproval, whoever it may come from. I’m not the sensitive type when it comes to writing. I’ve learned about the word “professionalism.”

Sumire is a determined girl, almost clearing her world of social life just to become a writer. Fortunately, there’s K to straighten that mistake—you need experience. You need to live in order to write about life. :) Perhaps there is no real K in my life right now, but there are pieces of him scattered around me, people who remind and teach me of this lesson all the time. And I’ll be forever grateful to them.

Nugget of Wisdom#1: The Chinese Walls of Writing
“A long time ago in China there were cities with high walls surrounding them, with huge, magnificent gates. The gates weren’t just doors for letting people in or out but had greater significance. People believed the city’s soul resided in the gates. Or at least that it should reside there. It’s like in Europe in the Middle Ages when people felt a city’s heart lay in its cathedral and central square. Which is why even today in China there are lots of wonderful gates still standing. Do you know how the Chinese built these gates?

“People would take carts out to old battlefields and gather the bleached bones that were buried there or that lay scattered about. China’s a pretty ancient country—lots of old battlegrounds—so they never had to search so far; At the entrance to the city they’d construct a huge gate and seal the bones inside. They hoped that by commemorating them this way the dead soldiers would continue to guard their town. There’s more. When the gate was finished they’d bring several dogs over to it, slit their throats, and sprinkle their blood on the gate. Only by mixing fresh blood with the dried-out bones would the ancient souls of the dead magically revive. At least that was the idea.

“Writing novels is much the same. You gather up bones and make your gate, but no matter how wonderful the gate might be, that alone doesn’t make it a living, breathing novel. A story is not something of this world. A real story requires a kind of magical baptism to link the world on this side with the world on the other side.”

My Violet Mirror and Fragments of Worlds
I came to think that Miu is not the only one who has a doppelganger in that Sputnik Sweetheart: I got one, too. From penchants for saving private journal entries in floppy disks/flash drives to the writer’s/bookworm’s squalor in her home, Sumire is a reflection—a more mysterious one—of myself. Perhaps we readers were never given an ultra deep glimpse of her, but we’ve seen enough through K’s introspections and observations. It’s really amazing how Murakami came up with a character that can reflect someone so clearly.

The sexuality issues, too—not that I’m a full-out lesbian (as much as possible I don’t subscribe to any kind of tag, but bisexual or pansexual would be okay, for easy explanation to anyone who will ask). And oh, the smallest details—Sumire kind of disliking her first name? I practically laughed out loud when I read that. I wouldn’t discuss why I don’t like my first name though.

Anyway, sorry for digressing. This may be the shallowest part of this post, but I’d just like to rattle on about this weird “sameness”. The fragments of novels. The books I’d love and traded with a friend. Even seeking an audience for the manuscripts of unfinished works! I have this one friend in high school whom I would show my pieces. He doesn’t share a lot of likeness with K, but the fervent reading sessions with him, the long discussions about our favorite novels, and him reading my the drafts of my works—K did kind of remind me of him. :)

Nugget of Wisdom#2: People who only read books about “reality”
“I never can get it out of my mind that it’s all made up, so I just can’t feel any empathy for the characters. That’s why my reading was limited to books that treated reality as reality.”- Miu

That explains a lot, thank you very much, Murakami. :p They need to expand their reading horizon—there’s so many good fantasy/sci-fi books out there! All you ever really need is imagination. :p

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Annnd that’s where I’ll end this post. It’s getting a tad too long. There might be a part 2 of this, because my mouth (or my brain’s mouth) won’t shut up when it’s in the mood. I’ll just put it up when I’m done. Ta-ta!

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