Dymocks Literary Luncheon with George R. R. Martin

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to meet the man who inspired this very blog: George R. R. Martin, creator of one of the most sweeping, elaborate and engaging sagas in modern high fantasy.

On Tuesday, my sister Liv and I visited the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney to attend the Dymocks Literary Luncheon, which encompassed a talk, Q&A and book signing with the acclaimed American author. Delicious food, diligently topped-up wine glasses and the chance to get a glimpse inside such a prolifically creative mind – what more could you want from a Tuesday?!

We were just finishing our tiramisu when George R. R. Martin appeared onstage (how’s that for an envy-inducing sentence?). His conversation with interviewer Giles Hardie ranged from the initial inspiration behind A Song of Ice and Fire (a lone image of orphaned direwolf pups in a drift of summer snow) to George’s lifelong love of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work (and his sheer disappointment as a child when the last 50 pages of Return of the King turned out to be appendices).

George sure loves to talk! He spoke in detail and would often follow tangents further and further away from the original question, which led to some memorable and amusing anecdotes. A discussion I found particularly interesting was one involving a ‘deleted scene’ from ASOIAF: a mysterious, lavishly descriptive sequence from Tyrion Lannister’s point of view, which was removed, reinserted, rewritten, relocated and removed again. George lamented at length the exclusion of the sequence, stating that while he was particularly proud of the writing, it created paths the narrative couldn’t realistically follow. Curiouser and curiouser … what I wouldn’t give to find out what’s in that chapter!

After the interview and Q&A, everybody formed an enormous queue, clutching careworn copies of A Game of Thrones and maps of Westeros for George to bestow a signature upon. When it was my turn, I stepped forward with an overly enthusiastic ‘Hi!’ and proceeded to exclaim ‘You’re-amazing-thank-you-so-much-for-your-work’ in one breath – to which the One True God of Westeros and Essos politely replied, ‘I’m sorry, what was that?’ (‘Have a favourite author ask me nicely WTF I just said’ is now checked off my bucket list.) When I repeated myself in a less garbled manner, he replied very graciously, expressing his appreciation and thanking me sincerely for attending. What a nice guy! I take back every rude name I called him while reading the Red Wedding for the first time.

All in all, the luncheon was a unique and wonderful event that I’m really grateful to have experienced. The world of books isn’t as easily accessible as the world of, say, music – while live music presents you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in an immediate expression of the art, a book is something that is essentially experienced on an individual level, always one step removed from its creation. An event like the Literary Luncheon offers a rare and fascinating insight into the books we love and the people who create them; it’s a chance to personalise the reading experience and share in its enjoyment with other book lovers. If you’re interested (and you live in Australia), here is a list of upcoming Dymocks literary events. I hope to attend many more luncheons and make a bumbling fool of myself in front of many more authors!

How A Famous Author’s Procrastination Helped Me Overcome Mine

Today, I discovered that George R. R. Martin has a blog, which he updates on a regular, almost daily basis. This revelation led me to realise two things:

  1. People still use Livejournal? (Check it out. It has ‘current mood’ updates and everything. It’s so 2005 and I love it.)
  2. If George R. R. Martin can run a blog (while also writing probably the most highly anticipated 1500-page fantasy novel ever), then so, most certainly, can I.

Since I finished my English and Writing degree at the end of last year, I have been trapped in the following vicious cycle:

  • lament loss of creative outlet/talent;
  • become struck with sudden (usually post-midnight) inspiration for a piece of writing;
  • decide, in morning light, said piece of writing is unusable drivel;
  • repeat.

You’d think I would have long since reached the logical conclusion that, to free myself from this cycle and regain my writing confidence, I should work on a regular blog. My reason – or excuse, depending on how you look at it – for not doing so has always been that I have nothing worthwhile to write about. There are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet; many of them are excellent, and many are terrible. Whenever I sat staring at a blank Word document or reading the vague ‘IDEAS FOR THINGS’ note saved to my phone at 12:53am, I’d ask myself questions like: how do you make sure you don’t fall into the ‘terrible’ category by rambling about nothing for the sake of writing something? How do you measure up to all the wonderful examples of online word-wizardry out there?

I’ve since realised that the answer to both of these questions is that you don’t. Who cares if you write a few long-winded rants about stuff that literally only four other people care about? Who cares if you generate no more than six page views per month, and three of these are from you Googling yourself? Based on my newfound understanding, the most important feature of a personal blog should be that the writer enjoys and gains something from creating it.

And so, thoroughly inspired by Mr Martin’s blogging habits (even though I would rather read The Winds of Winter than his thoughts on the latest NFL game … come on, George, you can watch football after you tell me who dies next), I have taken to WordPress to revive the blog I apparently started on July 31, 2012. I’ve left my long-forgotten first post up because I like its main idea: the importance of focusing on the lovely little things in life. I’ll be using that way of thinking as a loose theme for my future posts, in which I plan to celebrate the things I love and the things that make life so awesome.

So, to anybody actually reading this, know that sometimes – maybe even most of the time – I won’t have anything to offer you directly. That said, I’ll try not to be completely useless! I’ll review/post my thoughts on various books, movies and music; I’ll write about some random tips and tricks that I find helpful for day-to-day living; and I’ll try to maintain an overarching theme of appreciation for all the good things life in general has to offer. But sometimes, I will just write for the sake of writing: for the joy of describing an amazing day; for the relief of verbally venting frustration; for something to do, and to feel that I’m doing something.

I hope that you, dear and possibly imaginary reader, are ok with that. :)