By Dame Toni
I haven’t been as productive as I should have been lately. I blame George R.R. Martin.
A little background–A month or so ago, the basic cable channels were running ads for a new HBO series called Game of Thrones. I don’t have HBO, but a friend of mine recorded the first few episodes for me.
I was enthralled.
I learned that the series was based on a book of the same name, the first in a series called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I found myself sitting next to the editor of the book series at a recent writers’ conference, and asked her how she liked the HBO series. She told me that both she and the author were very pleased with it, especially the casting.
The next day I put the entire series on hold at my library. I was able to download the books as pdf files, which meant I could read them on my iPad.
The books are long, complicated, have a ridiculous number of character, title and place names to learn. They constantly refer to backstory that goes back thousands of years, and have so many simultaneous plot lines that you might think that I, a critical and impatient reader, would end up throwing them across the room. (Not that I would risk damaging my iPad.)
Instead I found myself more caught up than and I have been in any book for years. I stayed up late. I read at the dinner table. I neglected my yard work. I neglected EVERYTHING until I finished Book One.
I went back to the library website and make sure that I got the audio version of the next book so that I could listen while I mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, ran errands and exercised. Otherwise I probably would NOT have mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, run errands or exercised until I finished the rest of the series!
Experiences like this are why I was always a reader, and what made me want to be a writer. As some of you have heard me say, I want to write the book that makes you NOT notice when the phone rings. I want you to the skip class, overstay your lunch hour, and neglect your laundry to finish my book.
What is it about George Martin’s series that makes me feel this way? Well, the story is exciting, with lots of intrigue and adventure. The scary stuff is terrifying, and the battle scenes are easy to picture. The point of view is extremely strong–even when I am in the head of the villain, I am totally invested in him or her. When a character I like dies, I am seriously upset.
Books that make me feel these things are a gift, and not just because of the pleasure they provide. They make me want to stretch as a writer, and to capture someone else way I have. They make me aspire to be better.
The power at my house has been out for a day, due to a big storm. Last night, I sat in a rocking chair on my darkened porch and looked out at the few lights twinkling from the few houses on the other side of the lake that had generators running, listening to my book. I didn’t care a fig that I had no television or internet or lights. In fact, it helped me feel more in touch with a world where light came from candles and oil lamps, entertainment came from jesters and storytellers, and messages were carried by ravens.
The power company has advised us that we may be in for a multi-day outage. I have a borrowed generator, just big enough to power my refrigerator and a power strip that I’m using to charge up an assortment of electronic devices.
Like my iPod.
You see, I’m halfway through Book Three in the series, and there’s no way I’m letting a little thing like lack of electricity slow me down.
I don’t have running water, but I can buy bottled to drink. I can use paper plates, plastic cups and utensils to eat food that I cook on the barbecue. Once my refrigerator is cold enough, I can temporarily unplug it to run the coffee maker. I can bathe in the lake, as I often do in the summer (although I usually wait until the water has warmed up a bit more before I start). I can haul water in a bucket to flush the toilet.
I can wear my hair unstyled.
As long as I have my books, I’m good.
What are some of the books that have inspired you, as a writer and in other ways?
ANNOUNCEMENT – I know I have a couple of contest winners to announce, but it’s tricky going back through old posts to find them from my iPad. As soon as I get power, I’ll get my regular computer up and running, and update this message. Check back!