So many things I once thought were going to be life-altering good have turned out to, in reality, alter my life in ways that were either middling or straight-up painful. Becoming a writer tops the list, but also those Frito burritos from Taco Bell, owning a dress from Reformation, and the television series Game of Thrones. Turns out, George R.R. Martin, author of the series, agrees with me on some of those points.
In a recent interview with the Observer, Martin said that he thought the series would be an excellent impetus to push him along in finishing those last books, but instead, the popularity of the series (and the much faster pace of television as opposed to novel writing) actually made finishing more difficult:
“I don’t think [the TV series] was very good for me,” he said. “The very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day … I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.’”
Is that last part, “I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40,” not the last thing all writers think each night before losing ourselves to fitful stress dreams or was that just me and George?
About the ending of the show, he says, “You can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself,” right after assuring the interviewer that the television series ending, which pleased exactly no one, has nothing to do with the ending to the series of novels.
But even as he insists that the ending of the series need please no one but himself, it’s clear that the pressure Martin feels to finish the books and finish them well in order to also please a demanding fanbase that has made him a very reluctant international celebrity seems to have exhausted Martin.
Despite that exhaustion, he is still plugging away. He does, however, tell us one small thing we could do to give back to him who has given so much to us: leave him the fuck alone in bookstores:
“I can’t go into a bookstore anymore, and that used to be my favorite thing to do in the world. To go in and wander from stack to stack, take down some books, read a little, leave with a big stack of things I’d never heard of when I came in. Now when I go to a bookstore, I get recognized within 10 minutes and there’s a crowd around me. So you gain a lot but you also lose things.”
Let’s not force GRRM to order his books online. Can we all agree that a couple of hours alone in the Strand or wherever is a gift we can collectively offer him?