George R. R. Martin has been touring Australia for the past few weeks, and I managed to get tickets for his Melbourne talk. Marius from the A Podcast of Ice and Fire forums was also there, so it was great to finally meet another Vassal of Kingsgrave in person.
The talk was really enjoyable, with some surprisingly solid questions from the audience. It focused more on his career as a whole, rather than just ASOIAF. One thing that struck me was how he described the writing process. He said that coming up with ideas was actually the easy part, but that putting those ideas into words that could be very difficult and frustrating; that is, of having to choose the correct language to capture that elusive image in his mind, of not using to many or too few words.
He explained how some chapters seemed to pour out of him, like he possessed by a creative force, while other chapters were very frustrated, and writing them was like dealing with constipation. He also said that he had to take on a different head-space for each character (and that this head-space can take a couple of days to get into), and that rather than writing the chapters in the order they appear in the book, he would write character’s individual arcs (e.g. 3 Ayra chapters in a row). He also said he tries to write 4 to 5 pages a day.
He described how he drew a lot of inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, especially the choice to kill main characters, and creating the sense that there are actual stakes to the narrative, and that even the good guys are in mortal danger.
His advice to budding authors was to be constantly writing new material, and to learn to accept constant rejection from publishers, and be okay with living in relative poverty for much of your career, but to just keep writing.
The talk was held in the Olympic Room of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, so we had a pretty epic view to our left. I tried to ask a question, but I couldn’t coax the microphone-lady over to where we were sitting. After the talk, George held a signing, and somehow Marius and I managed to get fairly close to the start of the line. I had him sign a copy of Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows, which he seemed to get a kick out of.
Here are some photos if anyone is interested:
🙂 Also, this: