What took place in New Mexico this last week? George R.R. Martin and Stephen King got together: two chairs, one table, and two microphones. Stephen King opened it up, talking about how he hadn't read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books. He couldn't get through any of the Robert Jordan ones, so he figured it would be the same thing for George's books. Later, situations changed and he decided to give them a try. He said they were page turners, and he couldn't put them down.
Other things I learned: George R.R. Martin (in playing poker with Stephen King in the 80's) said you couldn't bluff him out even if you raised him a whole quarter. Stephen King's son, Joe Hill, is now a New York Times bestselling author. Joe didn't want to use his "King" name to achieve success. Something tells me though, that agents probably already knew who Joe Hill was ;).
Also, George R.R. Martin's laugh is half an octave from becoming a witch's cackle.
In waxing poetic about his own writing career, George said he got his start in a writing assignment when a teacher was going over the story "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allen Poe. Everyone in the room was assigned the task of writing a different ending to the story. George's ending had the guy get consumed by rats. They came out of the walls, ate his face, ate his toes, and burrowed into him while the pendulum descended and cut the guy in half. He said that his classmates loved the ending.
But the best part of the hour-long conversation was probably when George R.R. Martin wanted to know how Stephen King writes so fast. It turns out that King just writes and writes and writes while Martin doesn't. In a way, this whole staged event was a luminous peek into the contrasts of the greatest writers of our age. It's "the writer doesn't owe you anything and can do whatever he wants" versus "it's the writers job to write." Both writers have written some genius stuff and a lot of crap. Who can say which method is better?
Honestly though, it makes me wonder one thing about George R.R. Martin. I think he's worried about how people view him as a writer now, and he's worried that he'll disappoint them with future pieces of work. In other words, I think that his success now looms over him like a titan, and it terrifies him that his next book might be viewed as utter refuse. It's weird to think this, but George R.R. Martin may be one of the most insecure writers out there BECAUSE of the very fact that his name is now everywhere.
And maybe that's the true reason behind why it takes George R.R. Martin so long to write a book.