I'm back from a week at the cottage and, like every year, I planned on doing a lot of reading and, hopefully, some writing as well. Alas, I failed miserably on the writing front and I blame it entirely on my current reading obsession with George R.R. Martin's SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series. Most everyone knows it by the title of the first book A Game of Thrones.
I have been completely OBSESSED by this series. I devoured the first book, kind of went 'meh' on the second book, LOVED the third book and trudged through the fourth book. I am taking a pause before beginning the fifth book. My obsession may be waning - much like a torrid love affair that's run it's course. I still have interest, I'm still curious but ... I need a break. Reading four books with that many characters, that many story lines, that many PAGES ... well, I'm an avid reader, yes, but I'm a bit burnt out.
After finishing the fourth book and reading the first line of the author's acknowledgement page I wonder if his obsession wasn't getting to him too. The fourth book was a bit meandering, bringing in new characters, remaining totally silent on others and just seemed to have less, I don't know, spark? than the previous three books. In his acknowledgement page, Mr. Martin said "This one was a bitch." I had to laugh because I figured he suffered through it more than his readers did. He explained why he wrote the book this way and promised our old, faithful characters would be back in the fifth book.
The fourth book was written in 2005. His fifth book only came out this year. SIX years. That's a long time to spend with a book. You kind of need to be a bit obsessed to stay with a story this long. Which leads me to the question in the title of this post: is obsession with a story always a good thing for your writing? I know that when writers start off with a story idea that initial burst of obsession doesn't always stay. I know I can get tired of my story after working on it for a few months. I can't even imagine working on it for years! I know it's different when you build a world as complex as Mr. Martin has. But I wonder does he ever feel like chucking it all and writing a completely different story set in another world with other characters? Is he still obsessed or does he even need to be to write a good story? Can the passion for your story come through when you are sick to death of it?
A lot of questions I pose and I have no answers. What about you writers and readers out there? What do you think - is obsession with your story necessary to make it good?