George R.R. Martin (AKA: the mastermind behind the Game of Thrones franchise) revealed in an open-panel talk at the annual thriller-writers conference, Thrillerfest, this past weekend that the town in which he grew up (Bayonne, New Jersey) did not, in fact, have a bookstore.
Image via Twitter
Instead of an actual bookstore, Martin was only ever able to purchase books at his local candy store. And, instead of resenting the lack of reading material or the struggle it was to find the books he really wanted to read, Martin spoke about these days; he credits the “spinner rack of 35c paperbacks” inside that candy shop with keeping him on his toes, keeping his mind open, and never letting him get stuck on one specific genre.
Martin went on to explain that the bookstand was filled with a messy mix of paperbacks under any and every genre; you had to remove each book individually to see the one behind it. This eliminated the possibility of searching for books under any specific genre, causing Martin to read books about things he never thought he’d be interested in, exclaiming:
That was the healthiest way to read!
Martin is a big believer in removing the idea of interests and genre from your mindset when searching for something to read; you should never feel the need to pigeonhole yourself when it comes to things you might find interesting.
This open way of reading lead Martin to his later pursuits in life, as he found himself editing large multi-genre anthologies with the purpose of pulling readers out of their comfort-zones, and introducing them to works they otherwise may not have read.
Martin also said that he’s never felt in any way limited to writing within one, definitive genre; instead, he feels ultimately free to write under whichever genre he feels compelled to when inspiration strikes. He did say however, that he was always drawn to what his father called ‘weird stuff.’
Why do you like this weird stuff? he’d say
And, as if inspiring readers to take a step away from themselves, and dive into something completely, and totally different from anything they’d normally read wasn’t enough; Martin also spoke freely about his early struggles, stumbles, falls, and failures as a fresh, and struggling author.
It turns out, someone as wildly inventive, intelligent, and talented as George R.R. Martin once also struggled to be taken seriously within the literary realm when his fifth novel, The Armageddon Rag, which was set to be his big, breakout work, turned out to be an ultimate flop; the novel itself was amazing but nobody bought it.
Image via Amazon
It’s such an interesting, uplifting, adrenaline-inducing experience to sit alongside so many successful literary voices while listening to such an iconic and prolific author open up about his own failures; proving that fumbling around, skidding on your knees, and feeling defeated as you try (and fail) to reach and stretch toward your success do not, in any way, determine how talented you are or how successful you may, one-day still become. It looks like even the best of us have trouble figuring it all out!
Featured Image via Digital Spy