10 Questions I Would Ask George R. R. Martin

10 Questions I Would Ask George R. R. Martin

You will not avoid finding any Martin fanboys, especially since you found one right here
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If I was at a conference and I was given the mike during the Q&A; session, I would personally ask George R. R. Martin one of these questions based on curiosities and unanswered questions.

1. About An Expanded Universe Of Ice And Fire

Robert Scott III

Considering how you did diligent work with "The Lands of Ice and Fire" and "The World of Ice and Fire" and how you collaborate with Daniel Abraham, Gardner Dozois, and other authors, would you trust them to write "Ice and Fire" canon stories that take place outside of Westeros, like writing about the Braavosi adventurer who recorded the Dothraki war against the Ibbish?

2. About "Avalon"

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You wanted to write a science fiction novel titled "Avalon" which eventually became "A Game of Thrones." I found it interesting that in your early science fiction work, one of the planets was named "Avalon." In fact, there are a lot of similarities between "The Song of Ice and Fire" and your earlier work. So my question would be: Where did you originally have "A Game of Thrones" fit in this canon, like as a sequel to "Dying of the Light" or as its own stand-alone novel?

3. About Literary Influences

Robert Scott III

Which three of your literary influences would you like to have dinner with?

4. About Pronunciations

Robert Scott III

When I first read "A Game of Thrones," I admit that I had a hard time pronouncing the names like I would pronounce Tyrion as [tih-ree-AWN]; Daenerys as [DAY-neh-ris]; Yronwood as [ee-RAWN-wood]. Alongside the "The World Of Ice And Fire," have you thought of working alongside linguist David J. Peterson in releasing a pronunciation guide?

5. About Another Writer Also Dubbed A "Tolkien"

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I am sure you heard of M. A. R. Barker. He was the writer of the "Tekumel" science fiction series and he was also compared to Tolkien, for the same reasons you were in terms of in-depth world-building. What would you say is considered Tolkienian?

6. About Fantasy

Robert Scott III

I noticed a lot of similarities between the "Song of Ice and Fire" and your early fantasy short stories, such as "The Ice Dragon" and "In The Lost Lands." Have you always wanted to write a fantasy epic before writing "A Game Of Thrones?"

7. About Tortured Artists

Pixabay

There is a problem with creative people who are hurting. This leads to the archetype of the Tortured Artist. Considering how your suffering inspired "This Second Kind Of Loneliness" and "A Song For Lya," what advice would you have for writers who feel cheap and disposable?

8. About Jack Vance

Wikimedia

I found it interesting how the people of the Thousand Islands and the Jogos Nhai plains have this Vancean variety of strangeness compared to Westeros and the rest of Essos. You mentioned how you were paying homages to H. P. Lovecraft but were you also paying homages to Jack Vance as well?

9. About Literary Fiction

Robert Scott III

Your short story "Remembering Melody" comes very close to what can be defined as literary fiction, since it seems to deal more with the fractured relationship between the narrator and Melody than Melody's own supposed existence. Have you wanted to write literary fiction?

10.  About The Struggle To Be A Writer

Robert Scott III

You also helped to create the Worldbuilders scholarship, in order to help aspiring fantasy writers. Are there ways in which to pay for one's education in such programs like Clarion West Writer's Workshop?

Cover Image Credit: Skidmore, Gage. "George R. R. Martin." Flickr. Taken on 11 Nov. 2016. Remixes include cropping image size and adding speech bubble

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To The High School Senior, It's Not All About College Applications

Finish strong, be mindful of your needs, and live in peace.

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I wish I could have said this all last year, that you will never have it as easy as you do right now. It's the end of the road for childhood and you're wondering what else do I do with my life now that I'm going to college? It's a mix of emotions and feelings that are hard to process. My goal is telling you this is the year to do everything fun and live like you haven't before. This doesn't mean skip school on the daily and get bad grades(it matters until the end because of college).

But above all else, don't let college applications define your year. People think applying to college is the story of what happens senior year(which is mostly true but I promise that is not the only thing that matters). There is so much more to life than college applications and laughing how everyone becomes depressed their last year from being around the same people. If I could tell myself last year, it would be this:

First, it would be to not argue with people at all. This last year is simply too scared to fight and argue with people over nothing. Do your best to be kind to everyone and not cause problems for other people. Everyone deserves to have a nice senior year.

Second, enjoy being able to live in your own room and not share with anyone else. Once you get to college there's going to be a lot of unnecessary noise that you sort of get used to living with.

Next, do not take an abundance of college classes. They're only going to help you but so much and you're not going to want to do the work anyway. Don't be one of those people who does this and doesn't feel the need to have a social life. It's no joke, recognize you're human and be mindful of your needs.

In addition, there is no such thing as a perfect school. Every school has its flaws and most of the time when people say yes, they're saying yes to the marketing campaign the school has. There is a large difference between the marketing campaign for the school and actually living there. It's always good to go to your top school and tour a second time so you know what definitely fits you.

Most importantly, do not be too consumed in your cell phone and pretend that you don't care about anything. That's like a lame childish response pretending you don't have feelings. And for those that still think this is the way to go, I can't wait until you take a sociology class and learn about how humans are dependent on one another.

Appreciate everything mom and dad have done for you. Do not fuss about what is put on the dinner table, and instead be grateful that they took their time to prepare a meal for YOU. Nothing compares to mom's home-cooked meals. Because that dining hall food can really mess you up.

You will be working the 9-5 all day every day. There will be more work, you will be stressed out about reading around 300 pages of material per week, and have the stress of having two tests as the only semester grades.

Lastly, you will actually have to adult for the first time ever in college and find what keeps you motivated. It's not a hand holding game with constant support. You have the opportunity to do a lot by yourself but also with others.

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Who Are You Really Writing Your Paper For?

This simple question about visualizing the audience influences how you write your paper

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Normally I do not usually become inspired to spontaneously write anything, however, this is one of those instances where a muse comes to me and slaps me across the face. Basically, this instance involves presenting my final paper for my Shakespeare & His Contemporaries course. The topic of my paper was about how Shakespeare portrayed the outsiders in his plays. Up to the point when I talked about Hamlet identifying himself with Pyrrhus as a hero, my professor had a few words about that particular phrasing. Although it was nothing serious, I was told that Pyrrhus acts more as a villain since he kills Priam, who is the old king of Troy. Although I did not state what I really meant by that use of the word "hero" at that moment, it made me reflect on how I write to a specific audience, in which case I wrote to a professor who knew about the Greek myth of Pyrrhus, whereas I did not.

I started to think about alternative phrases that I could have replaced the word "hero" in order to clarify the context. Clearly, I knew that Hamlet is gory and over-the-top when relating the myth to Polonius, however when I wrote that Pyrrhus was a "hero," I meant a "hero" who fit two contexts: 1. whoever Hamlet considers a hero; 2. a hero in the classical Greek mythological sense, so on par with Odysseus, Theseus, and Heracles. I wrote within the notes of my PowerPoint submission about this and that is what leads me to write this article.

In another graduate course I am taking, which is Teaching Composition, an important term that I learned involves the first-year college students' relationship with their own paper. It is egocentricity. This is NOT egoism, rather egocentricity is formally defined as the tendency to write for oneself, in other words, college students writing a paper only they themselves can understand. This habit becomes a problem when it subverts formal academic language but it also leaves the readers confused since academic language is needed as an agreed-upon vernacular designed to connect the faculty with the students.

In my case, I may have done more than confuse my professor, rather I created a grievous misunderstanding and created the assumption that I thought that a man who slaughters everyone around him, including an old man, would be someone to aspire to (which I obviously do not!). As a result, I was simply told to change the phrasing from "hero" to "man of action." However, the only change I thought needed to be made was specifying what type of "hero" is Pyrrhus, more specifically who Pyrrhus is to--not anyone else--but Hamlet himself. I needed to clarify that this was Hamlet's interpretation of Pyrrhus and not mine. In fact, I barely knew about the Greek mythological figure Pyrrhus except that from his namesake we get the phrase "Pyrrhic victory." Even for my paper, I did not use an unbiased source talking about Pyrrhus--which I asked would be an option.

That suggestion was part of how I tried to mend the image I projected upon everyone in the class. I was not worried about how that case of miscommunication would affect my presentation grade, rather I was more worried about the fact that I might have possibly painted myself in an unflattering way. Even though the main component of my presentation was about how the outsider characters elicit a complex relationship with the audience, who show pity for their marginalities but also abhorrence to the destruction they cause, this experience definitely caused me to reevaluate how I write. A way of doing that is to specify as much as I can in order to be understood.

So even as a graduate student, I continue to have problems with egocentricity. As a result, I have begun to look back at all of the writing assignments that I wrote as part of my college/university educational life and have begun to notice a glaring piece that was missing that I tried to address in the Sample Syllabus assignment for my Teaching Composition course. That problem was this: only writing for a professor or instructor. This reason is why my writing either appeared bland or did not reach the page limit. Not only should there be a WHO but also a WHAT in terms of writing for a reading audience. For example, I should have presented under the supposition that my reading audience might expect the modern context of the word "hero" and not the classical Greek myth context.

I would say that my problem was that I was so fixated on the subject of Shakespearean outsiders that I completely neglected the fact that I was addressing all of this information to a modern audience who might interpret the word "hero" completely differently from how Shakespeare would. If I ever teach a composition course at some university, I would definitely use this experience as an example of what I should expect my students to keep in mind when writing for an audience. I would specifically tell them that even as a graduate student I continued to struggle with it. I especially think that context should be taught, especially in a world where people use the word "literally" when they really mean "figuratively," "really," and "actually."

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