What happened when George R. R. Martin finished his first book

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How to be successful and create your own ‘Misery’

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published for the 1976-themed issue of the Other Press. January 13, 2016

Young author George R. R. Martin’s first collection of novellas and short stories, A Song for Lya, is being published this year. There is probably not going to be a big launch party. There is probably not going to be coverage from multiple media sources. And there are probably not going to be lineups outside the bookstore. It is probably going to be a modest event with reserved excitement.

For a writer, there doesn’t need to be a big event, because there is nothing more exhilarating than seeing one’s works there, visible on shelves at a local bookstore. It must be the same sensation musicians feel when they hear their song on the radio, or how actors feel when they see their face on the screens.

Yet, at what point does that thrill fade? As artists, your profession is also your passion, right? That’s why when I see an artist with an insipid attitude towards their craft, I wonder: Why pursue this daunting, critical, often thankless, often highly demanding, sometimes soul-crushing, most often a poor return of investment brand of work? Why climb Mount Everest if you dislike heights?

Hopefully, this young Martin fellow can recall that initial sensation of accomplishment for having been published if he continues to write, and will never feel resentful towards any fame or success he gains.

My advice to Martin and to other young writers is to always be carefully aware of the scope of one’s craft—what it will mean to you, and what it will mean to the greater public. If you create something people love, what responsibility do you have to continue delivering? How much do you owe to those who have raised you to such prowess?

I was speaking with Stephen King, another young writer, and we were bouncing ideas around. He had this outline for a novel called Misery. It’s about an author who is captured by an obsessed fan and held hostage in an attempt to get him to write another book. That’s the risk of being beloved; you are not actually loved. I hope King gets around to writing that book soon. I think it’ll be good.

Let’s hope we never do the same thing to Martin. We love his work, but we don’t care about him as a human being. He won’t win us over with his delightful personality or his literary, sci-fi, or fantasy expertise. We’ll respect him for the awesome work he will surely produce. But if we want more, he’ll have to supply it or find someone to help.

Artists need to think of their work like starting a franchise. Books are the business. Understandably, when it comes to artworks, the artists get personally attached, because writing is, in essence, a birthing process. But if they’re not able to maintain their franchise, the artists should sell their rights to their work or hand the reigns to trustworthy partners. Although it would be tough to give their art up for adoption, if the author does not have the capability to raise it properly, would the right thing to do not be giving it up for the fan’s sake?

Too epic for words

Image via forbes.com

How I feel about the ‘Game of Thrones’ television series surpassing the novel saga

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 31, 2015

As season five of Game of Thrones commences, show runner David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed that the adaptation will indeed surpass the books.

The anticipated sixth part of Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R. R. Martin, Winds of Winter, has been one of the most anticipated novels of our generation. The reason is because many who enjoyed the books two decades ago were able to relive the journey of war, love, and betrayal through the HBO series. Many more discovered the books through the show and have spent off-seasons catching up on their reading, comparing it with the on-screen version. However, it appears as though the television show will have its finale before the last novel is published. This is ultimately going to leave many book lovers like me forlorn.

I’m a big believer in reading the books first and then watching the adapted version. There is an intimacy to reading that cannot be translated on screen. True, many movies and television shows have done terrific jobs giving life to words. Game of Thrones is definitely one of them and I have little doubt that the ending will surely be epic. Needless to say, I wanted to read the grand conclusion first, soak it in, indulge in the details, and feel the pages transfer from my right hand to the left as characters perish. Of course, I can stop watching the show, hold off, and wait patiently for the books. But knowing Martin’s process, I could wait a lifetime.

As a viewer, I have always separated the novels from the show. Many of the details get lost in the recollection, but the framework is what matters. When the show concludes and all those who are reading the novels see the winners of the game of thrones, will they return to the books and finish it? Will the ending be significantly different? I believe those are now the questions for viewers going into the next season. For a while, those who had caught up on the novels have been keeping their lips shut, limiting their chances of spoiling the story; but now, every viewer will be on the same page. For a story of such magnitude, I think that is fitting.

I like the idea of a series of books having a longer lifespan than a television show. To me it proves how challenging it is to write, edit, and publish a novel. Martin’s tale of Westeros is a feat that will go down in storytelling history. There will come a day when the show ends and the last novel in the seven-part series, A Dream of Spring, is available in stores. On that day, all the true fanatics will relive the experience again through the written words. When the show ends, the story will continue.