Losing yourself in Westeros

There are some wonderful reflections in this Guardian interview with George RR Martin on the writing process, the power of fiction and losing yourself in your work:

When he’s really on a roll with his writing, “there are days when I sit down in the morning with my cup of coffee, I fall through the page and I wake up and it’s dark outside and my coffee is still next to me, it’s ice cold and I’ve just spent the day in Westeros.”

“When I began, I didn’t know what the hell I had. I thought it might be a short story; it was just this chapter, where they find these direwolf pups. Then I started exploring these families and the world started coming alive,” Martin says. “It was all there in my head, I couldn’t not write it. So it wasn’t an entirely rational decision, but writers aren’t entirely rational creatures.”

“I think that’s true of any fiction worth reading, that you’re really talking about people. And maybe it’s set in space or in a castle with dragons, maybe you set it in a suburban town where Dick and Jane live, or in some urban hell hole. Wherever you want to set your story, it’s still about people trying to make their decisions about what is right and what is wrong, how do I survive, questions of good and evil.”

On the other hand, once I really get rolling, I get into the world, and that happened recently with Fire and Blood. I was going to sleep thinking of Aegon and Jaehaerys and waking up thinking of them and I couldn’t wait to get the typewriter. The rest of the world vanishes, and I don’t care what I’m having for dinner or what movies are on or what my email says, who’s mad at me this week because The Winds of Winter isn’t out, all that is gone and I’m just living in the world I’m writing about. But it’s sometimes hard to get to that almost trance state.”

“We live our lives and I think there’s something in us that yearns for something more, more intense experiences. There are men and women out there who live their lives seeking those intense experiences, who go to the bottom of the sea and climb the highest mountains or get shot into space. Only a few people are privileged to live those experiences but I think all of us want to, somewhere in our heart of hearts we don’t want to live the lives of quiet desperation Thoreau spoke about, and fantasy allows us to do those things. Fantasy takes us to amazing places and shows us wonders, and that fulfils a need in the human heart.”

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