Don’t Begrudge George R. R. Martin For Doing Cool Things & Hanging Out With Famous People

George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter will not be published before the Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere. You may be sad, but please don’t be mad.

To the dismay of many fans, Martin updated his LiveJournal yesterday with this note: “THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.”

He went on to write:

You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, “I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER” on or before the last day of 2015.

But the book’s not done.

Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there’s a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those ‘no pages done’ reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.) Chapters still to write, of course… but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.

The book is not done which means fans have to hang on longer than they’d hoped to see what happens next. It also means the show will start spoiling what has yet to be published, something producers already came out and said for a fact in early 2015. Everyone has also been open about how the showrunners will be changing things from Martin’s books.

“For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you,” he writes. “Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”

Even though I had thought it would have been sneaky of them to have kept Martin’s progress a secret and release the next book of his A Song of Ice and Fire series on December 22, 2015 (the first day of winter) I didn’t actually have hope the book would be out before the next season of the HBO adaptation began. Martin himself said in January of last year that there would be no new ASoIaF book in 2015 but his latest post says he and his publisher attempted an October 31st deadline in order to get it released before Season 6.

Unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked. You can blame my travels or my blog posts or the distractions of other projects and the Cocteau and whatever, but maybe all that had an impact… you can blame my age, and maybe that had an impact too…but if truth be told, sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t, and that was true for me even when I was in my 20s. And as spring turned to summer, I was having more bad days than good ones. Around about August, I had to face facts: I was not going to be done by Halloween. I cannot tell you how deeply that realization depressed me.

They updated his deadline to the end of the year but he admits to blowing that deadline as well. “Look, I have always had problems with deadlines. For whatever reason, I don’t respond well to them,” he writes. “Write at my own pace and deliver when I’m done. That’s really how I am most comfortable, even now.”

But why has Martin’s creative process been so slow this time around (though it always has been on the slower side)? He’s been having a crap-ton of fun as a result of the story he created. He wrote:

Back when this was one long long long post, before Live Journal sent it to the cornfield, I mentioned opening with Dickens’ line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So it was for me in 2015. I’ve spent much of the day recreating (in Cliff’s Note summaries) my own personal “best of times” from the previous year, all the wonderful things that went down for me in 2015, the awards and the publications and the bestseller lists, the cons and the parties, the travel, all the exciting new projects underway at HBO and right here down the street in Santa Fe.

Can we fault him for that? He is living his life to the fullest.

Martin spent time appearing on talk shows, going to Emmy parties, attending conventions and making other appearances where he interacted with the very fans now cursing him. To be fair, he also spent time weighing in on a controversy surrounding something important to him, the Hugo Awards, as well as doing this usual posts about football etc. But he also did make efforts to get the work done faster by not writing any episodes for Game of Thrones Season 6 and skipping San Diego Comic-Con this past summer.

You may recall Neil Gaiman’s famous words from 2009: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” A few years later musical act Paul and Storm wrote a satirical song about the sense of fan entitlement and Gaiman and Martin himself joined them on stage for a rendition at SDCC 2013. But that won’t stop some from thinking the author should do nothing but write. That’s simply not feasible or realistic. And it’s also kind of mean.

I’m not telling anyone who’s mad to not feel the way they feel, just to consider what they would have done if they’d been in Martin’s shoes and reconsider how they feel. Would you rather sit at home writing a really long essay or go hang out with someone who’s work you admire, travel, and meet people who respect you? Martin made sure to follow up his explanation post with a thank you to all who have supported him so it’s nice to know it’s not all negativity being thrown his way.

It should also be a consolation to fans that Martin does feel remorse about not delivering the book sooner. He’s not gloating about the other things he’s done, he’s  being open about it. Just remember what the author wrote in his original post: “It will be done when it’s done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”

(image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

2 Responses to “Don’t Begrudge George R. R. Martin For Doing Cool Things & Hanging Out With Famous People”

  1. Aeryl says:

    Yeah, I don’t consider the show to be spoilers for the books, the show has demonstrated itself to be a far inferior creature to the books. I just don’t have the stomach to watch the show metaphorically butcher characters I love, especially while continuing to whitewash Tyrion.

  2. It’s fine. I audiobook’d my way through the whole series (including Dunk and Egg) this summer having never read a word and…honestly, the book is different enough that I’ll read it regardless. It doesn’t make me look forward to the show any less or cringe at the thought of spoilers.