Miura Shion is the original author of Fune wo Amu (2011) otherwise also known as The Great Passage. The anime adaptation started airing from October 16 on Fuji Television’s noitaminA block. The interview consists of eleven parts; this is the seventh part on Miura’s thoughts on what it means to be a novelist. Please go to part one “Encountering a Dictionary” to read the interview from the beginning.
The Profession Known as the Novelist
I haven’t started thinking about the next development at all even though the deadline has passed. The idea that it won’t even come to mind is constantly there. But, it’s not good to get disconcerted there. I stay calm and start negotiations.
If you were to explain the profession of writing a novel to a middle schooler, how would you do it?
Well, first of all what comes to my mind is that it’s an “occupation in which you don’t have to get into a crowded train”. It’s an occupation in which you don’t have to get into a crowded train to commute to work. Next is that it’s “a job in which you live by telling tons of lies”. Normally, if you lie, you become a swindler or a criminal, people will say “what’s with that person?” even if you do not go that far. But even if you tell a tons of lies by doing only this work, it’s futile in everyday life, but within a novel it’s an excuse no matter how many lies you say. Instead, they are delighted by those falsehoods. That’s an enjoyable thing, right?
I wonder if a person who becomes a novelist, isn’t a person who has no other jobs they can do. Those kind of people will very likely settle into this job. For example, there are scriptwriters who can also write novels, but I feel like there aren’t many people who are writing novels and also try to write scripts really well. It’s different for a person who wrote and studied writing scripts before becoming a novelist, but I wonder if there aren’t many people who say they tried writing books at daytime and wrote one before becoming a novelist. In general, novelists don’t have anything else they can do, so they write novels.
When I was small, I thought novelists were people who write the whole time around the clock, but it’s different. People like that may also exist, but I wonder if a novelist is a “person who reads” rather than a “person who writes”?
So that means people who love books are settling in this line of work after all huh. Occasionally, there is a genius-like person who says “I never read novels, but I tried and I wrote one anyway.” But I think most people like a novel, read it, and think it would be nice if they wrote a novel like that too. Among the people who are writing, there are those who read an amazing amount of novels. There may also be people who write from morning until evening, but generally I read books and space out.
But, in the weekends, or perhaps I should say, on my days off I don’t have much work to do. The people who decide they won’t write in the weekends, actually think about what they should write the whole time, even if the working hours are marked off. I think it might be because you can’t stop thinking about it. Among the people who edit, there are probably many people who think about what they should do and such, on their days off? It’s the same as that.
It might be the same. But, in the case of a novelist, it’s a terrible situation if you have nothing to write next, and nothing comes to mind. Don’t you have any kind of fears like that?
That happens. I haven’t started thinking about the next development at all even though the deadline has passed. The idea that it won’t even come to mind is constantly there. But, it’s not good to get disconcerted there. I stay calm and start negotiations. I use the prolongation strategy of begging the editors so that they can extend the print shop’s deadline, and apologize to them profusely; if you don’t take the firm stance “fall down when you fall” in your mind, the ideas won’t come to your mind either.
I think that situation takes up a huge amount of stress, after all.
I think it’s not very good for people who are very nervous. Gradually, they feel that nothing goes well. They might go too much into panic like “I won’t make it in time for the deadline!”, so they might expire in a situation of writing. If anything, I think there are many more people who perceive everything negatively. By that I mean the people who are doing these jobs. However, even though they take it negatively, they are optimistic at times of writing. Or perhaps I should say, there aren’t many people who keep putting out a pessimistic taste.
There are times when I wonder if there are many people who are optimistic somewhere in a part of their foundation. When I meet and talk to them, there are many who say “the deadline is…”, while also saying “shall we go have a drink again?”. Despite being negative, they keep trust and hope towards humans at the bottom of their heart with relative optimism. That is why they continue to tell lies and don’t go through commuting hell very often; a carefree profession, that’s what a novelist is.