In Defense of George R. R. Martin

 

This long article is about author George R. R. Martin and, more importantly, the misgivings and negativity some of his more vocal fans have concerning the lateness of his forthcoming book, A Dance With Dragons.

George really needs no introduction. Since the release of A Game of Thrones in 1996, he has been a growing fixture in the fantasy genre, his fan base growing with every release of his series, A Song of Ice & Fire. In November 2005, Time magazine branded George the ‘American Tolkien.’ While I believe that remains to be seen—after all the series is not yet finished and I must read the entirety of it to truly give such a grand title associated with J.R.R. Tolkien—the one thing I am certain of is A Song of Ice & Fire is an extremely powerful story that invokes passion in all who read it.

That passion is a double-edged sword, able to cut an enemy as quickly as its bearer. While the four books and two short stories that comprise A Song of Ice & Fire are universally garnered as being some of the best storytelling ever, animosity swirls around George. The fourth book, A Feast For Crows, took five years to be published and it contained only half of the characters fans have come to love. Upon publishing A Feast For Crows, George posted that he was near to completing the other half of the story, A Dance With Dragons, with the novel coming to bookstores quickly.

That was three years ago and A Dance With Dragons is still not complete.

This has aroused a great deal of anger for many of George’s fans. Five years is a long time to wait for a sequel to arguably one of the best fantasy series of all time, especially when most writers are able to produce sequels between one and three years. But as I’ve come to discover, anger is one of the least logical emotions we possess; it can lead people to conclusions that are not wholly accurate—if not down right wrong. Much of the animosity I see written about George and his lateness is colored by that kind of anger and, while I believe there are two instances where fans of A Song of Ice & Fire are more than allowed their ire, most of it lacks any authenticity whatsoever.

This article hopes to dispel some of those erroneous angry feelings and assumptions out there—or at least give a different side to things that most readers probably have not thought of.

Tall order, I know.

THE ORIGIN OF CONCLUSION

To understand how I’ve come to my conclusions, you deserve to know where my bias and knowledge lies. Most of the people who disparage George are readers who have no other associations with him or other ties to the publishing industry. I have been a sci-fi and fantasy reader for twenty years like many of those readers, but I also come at this from the publishing and writing side, giving me what I hope is a unique perspective.

In 1996, I began one of the first fantasy websites, a dedication website to author Terry Brooks, which opened the door to meeting and closely befriending dozens of other writers. At almost the same time, I became a manager at one of the largest bookstores in the world, giving me a view of the industry from the retail side. While at the bookstore, I oversaw numerous author events and met even more writers, each unique, each bringing their own experiences into my life. Seattle is a hotbed for visiting writers and I’ve listened to countless of them answering questions about their work and, more importantly, their craft of writing.

I also began The Signed Page, a website devoted to helping sci-fi and fantasy fans from all over the world gain signed or personalized books for cover price. I have welcomed many writers into my home—George R. R. Martin being one of them, I’ll be honest and up front about that—and listened to them speak about their work and learned from all of them in some way or another.

A few years ago, I was essentially dared to write a novel by one of my author friends. Having learned a great deal about the craft of writing and the publishing industry from my various friends, I decided to try it. I hope to finish my current novel, The Dark Thorn, in two weeks and begin the hunt to have it published to bookstores by a major publishing house in 2010.

My more than twelve year resume may not seem like a lot, but it is what it is.

I have seen almost every facet of the publishing industry, from working with editor in chiefs to editing for continuity to maintaining several author websites and interacting with fans to writing my own novels to working as a bookseller. I come at this particular article with a far different viewpoint than many.

So take what I write with a bit of understanding—or salt.

WHY FANS SHOULD BE ANGRY

All right. Let me begin by relating my opinion on why these fans do indeed have a valid argument to be downright nasty and rancorous.

First, every professional author writes to a contract. Contracts can be for any number of books in a series and usually must be delivered by a certain agreed upon date. This is a business, after all, and the publisher needs to have some kind of assurance that the writer will deliver on time. Publishing schedules are set sometimes a year in advance and from a business point of view a publisher doesn’t want to publish two high profile books in the same month—might ruin sales for both. Contracts keep the publisher and writer on the same page and help the publishing industry move smoothly.

When a writer delivers a book late, it skews the entire publishing process and hurts the entire publishing industry. Bestsellers help drive the industry’s economy. Bestsellers keep bookstores open. Bestsellers give publishers the ability to find the next big author from the slush pile. When a writer delivers a book late, it hurts a lot more people than just the writer, than just the reader.

Undoubtedly, George had a contract for A Feast For Crows and more than likely he missed the deadline for delivery of the finished manuscript to his editor. He undoubtedly also has a deadline for A Dance With Dragons and has more than likely missed that deadline as well.

The pain is felt everywhere.

As this is a business, and contracts are a reality, deadlines must be kept. To not do so is to be unprofessional. Fans have every right to be upset about George being unprofessional. That is a very valid argument and one I believe as well.

Second, the moment George turned in A Feast For Crows, he told his fans how the book had been split asunder, his reasons for doing it, and that A Dance With Dragons would be released relatively soon. He hoped to finish A Dance With Dragons by the end of 2006, according to his website, which would have been a year after the publication of A Feast For Crows. His words, not mine.

That self-imposed deadline by George was also not met. It misled his fans into believing the next book would be published within a year after A Feast For Crows. Whether that is just poor planning by George or a lie, no one knows—I prefer to think the craft of writing George employs gave him poor judgment and that there was no malicious intent on his part to mislead his fans. Disappointment is hard to swallow though; it festers and won’t let go in those who aren’t practiced at it. Those fans feel lied to, maybe even manipulated, and they certainly have another valid argument there I cannot disagree with.

So rise up, those fans who rage! Be angry over the lack of professionalism George has displayed and not being up front with his progress.

You certainly won’t get an argument out of me.

WRITING IS NOT A SCIENCE

Now, on to the assumptions many of these fans use against George that I feel are unwarranted and in some cases just plain mean.

Many people try to look at the release history of A Song of Ice & Fire and plot out or gauge when George should be releasing his books. They look at the first three books and, using simple arithmetic, seemingly know when A Dance of Dragons should be published.

But I am here to tell those people that writing is not a science.

Not for some writers, anyway.

I’ve discovered two different kinds of writers in all my years being around them. There are those I call Outliners and those I call Freewriters. They are very different. Outliners think their story through to the end before they even write one word. Sometimes they only know key points in the novel; sometimes they outline the individual chapters. All of them usually know where they are going while at the keyboard. Being an Outliner prevents writing oneself into a corner or having that evil thing known as Writer’s Block. It also allows for a writer to know essentially how long their story is and they can estimate how long it will take to write. As an example, Terry Brooks is an Outliner.

A Freewriter knows very little about where the story is taking them. When they sit down at the keyboard, they act almost like a medium, a vessel where the story comes through them onto the written page. They don’t outline but instead write what comes to them in the moment with very little planning if any at all. Often Freewriters are reduced to using deux ex machina or having to backtrack their way out of situations they have written themselves into. As an example, Stephen King is a Freewriter.

I am an Outliner.

George is, from what I understand, a Freewriter.

So, what does that mean? Well, it means George does not plan in advance what he writes. As a result, George will often write several chapters, which takes up several weeks, decide on a different and better course of direction, and have to erase those chapters—and quite possibly several others that came before them. Those weeks are gone with no output to show for it other than having a better sense of where he is going. According to him, that very thing has happened several times over the course of the last few years, delaying A Feast For Crows and now A Dance With Dragons. Unlike King, who sometimes has lackluster endings to his novels due to, in my opinion, lack of planning, George is an editor who will not publish something unless it is done right. The manner in which George writes can be volatile to the reader who believes George just needs to spend a certain amount of time at the keyboard to produce a manuscript.

But writing for George is not a science. He is a Freewriter. To try to make him other than that is folly—and disrespects the earlier work that has given such joy.

More on that at the end.

THE CREATIVE WALL

When I was only a reader and had not dabbled in the craft of writing or spent any time around those who use it, I always imagined that all a writer had to do was sit at a keyboard, hit keys for hours a day, and at the end of a year a book would exist. Seems plausible, right? Perfectly logical.

The reality is quite different—and more complex.

Every writer I have spoken to comes to a point in their creative day where, no matter how much they wish differently, the written word just does not happen the way it should. The writing becomes stagnant; it becomes useless and is simply not good enough to be published. No matter if the writer sits and tries to hammer their way through, nothing changes. To sit at the keyboard during that time is a waste of time.

I call it the Creative Wall.

All writers come to that Wall during their writing day, at least all writers I know. The average amount of time differs between writers. For instance, Terry Brooks spends between five or six hours a day before he is simply burnt out. Steven Erikson, on the other hand, doesn’t come to his Creative Wall until seven or eight hours have passed. For me, it is four or five hours. Every writer is different; every writer deals with it.

George comes to a Wall during his writing day too.

I do not know within what hours it happens—that is something I will ask him the next time I talk to him—but assuredly he has a limit like all other writers I know. It means any time he spends after he has hit the Wall is worthless to the outcome of the novel he is working on. The next day he would merely have to delete what he had written and start over again.

I only bring this up because many of his fans who wish to see A Dance With Dragons published yesterday think it only takes George sitting down at the keyboard, foregoing all other interests, and pounding his way through the book. I believe for him to do that would result in a book not worth reading. The Wall prevents it. The book would lack the magic that has come before.

None of us want that lack of magic, do we?

None of us want a mediocre book, I hope?

A lot more goes into writing a book than the average reader knows. I think it is important not to lose sight of that when wishing to so readily and easily chastise George.

After all, people should only argue what they know, not what they think they know.

THE MERCHANDISING OF HOBBIES

Probably the most abundant gripe I hear from fans about why A Dance With Dragons is not finished deals with the other projects and hobbies George has in his life. George is writing A Dance With Dragons but he also happens to edit several projects throughout his work year, most notably the Wild Cards series. He requires time to edit these projects, to contact the other people who are a part of them, and ensure they are done up to his high standards.

That is time fans believe he should be writing on A Dance With Dragons.

That would be disastrous.

Every day, after George has hit his Creative Wall, he has many hours where he can work on other projects and enjoy his other hobbies. This is time he can’t use on A Dance With Dragons, as I’ve illustrated; once he has come to that Wall, any time spent writing is pointless. What his hobbies and additional projects give George, however, is far more important than anyone realizes. They allow him to recharge those creative batteries so he can return the next day feeling refreshed and ready to write on A Dance With Dragons again. Removing those hobbies from his life would result in the same stagnation that comes about when a writer hits their Creative Wall.

Assumptions. Assumptions. Angry fans assume that George can just push forward and finish A Dance With Dragons despite how the craft of writing works. I am here to tell you, as a writer who has listened to dozens of writers talk about the process, that the craft of writing is far more complex than what most readers think.

Don’t fall prey to those assumptions.

To be fair, there might be some bleed over from those projects into A Song of Ice & Fire. Maybe. We don’t know. I am willing to admit I’m not a mouse hiding in George’s house watching his every move and how his writing matches up against what came before. Perhaps when George sits down to write on A Dance With Dragons he is still thinking about a short story anthology he is editing and the writing suffers. Perhaps the days he is traveling to a convention are days he doesn’t spend time writing anything at all. Logical, right? But my overall point is no one knows how George actually spends his time and I see too many people acting as though they know for a fact when they only carry assumptions.

The next time these fans chastise George for not using his time the way they think he should, they should think about what those hobbies, conventions and other projects do for George and his creative life.

And how they positively affect A Dance With Dragons.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE TRILOGY

Time to switch gears a bit from the last few points I’ve made. So much goes into writing a book, let alone a series, and I am trying to hit all of the points in a logical manner.

  • A Game of Thrones – August 1996
  • A Clash of Kings – February 1999
  • A Storm of Swords – November 2000
  • A Feast For Crows – November 2005
  • A Dance With Dragons – ?

A Song of Ice & Fire began as a trilogy. George started writing A Game of Thrones in 1991. While writing it he realized the first book he imagined was going to be quite a bit longer than what a physical book spine could hold. He published A Game of Thrones in 1996 but at the time of its publishing he already had 400 pages of A Clash of Kings done. In essence, he had a great jump on the second and third books in the series. By the time A Storm of Swords was published, the head start George had been given was gone.

When one looks at the math between 1991 and 2000, it took George nine years to write three books. Those first three books probably took him, on average, three years to write apiece. Three years is a long time.

We are at three years right now for A Dance With Dragons.

So why did A Feast For Crows take five years? Why did A Dance With Dragons have to be split from it?

This speaks to those people who think that George has only just now started splitting books—as well as those fans who seem to think he could write A Storm of Swords in a year and a half and he should be able to write further volumes at the same pace. A Feast For Crows was not the first time George split a book. As George has said, A Game of Thrones was originally quite a bit longer than it is published now. Some of it, at least a third but maybe half, ended up in A Clash of Kings, split off from the original book. A Dance With Dragons went the same way as A Clash of Kings once upon a time; George felt it best to split the pages and this is something he has been doing from the beginning.

This of course angers many people. Five years spent waiting and to have only received half of the book they were promised is aggravating. On top of that, A Feast For Crows did not have many of the point of view characters readers have come to love; they have been relegated to A Dance With Dragons. To add more insult to perceived injury, George related he had several hundred pages of A Dance With Dragons finished when he published A Feast For Crows, meaning he should have been well on his way to finish that next book.

I understand all of that. It is a lot to be mad about.

But here are two more facts that should be taken into account.

First, the book that would become A Feast For Crows was not even intended by George. Not originally. He had plans to jump ahead in the series by years, beginning what would be the fourth book at a time when the Stark children were older. After George had written for 18 months, he changed his mind, which eliminated 18 months worth of work. He began anew, deciding to change the course he had originally planned, and the book that would eventually become A Feast For Crows came into being. It took George a little more than three years to finish that book, which matches up with the “averages” we have seen for the earlier books—if you like math, which I don’t really.

Once again, the editing part of George decided to change course, a change of course that took time to finish.

Second, the averages say George should be able to write a book every three years, based on those first three—or four if you count Feast—books. But averages are just fancy math, nothing more, and I’ve already said science plays no part in a writer’s life—especially in a Freewriter’s life. But it turns out those pages of A Dance With Dragons George said he had finished when A Feast For Crows was published were mostly wiped out soon after the fourth book was published, according to his publisher, George once again destroying pages and pages and months and months of work because he decided to take the story in a different direction. Remember, this is a writer who can write six chapters over two months, decide to go a different direction, and erase those two month’s worth of work. That is the kind of writer George is; to deny it is to deny the truth of the matter.

To me, it looks like he is writing almost at the same rate now as he was back during the time period the original three books were written and published.

So much for hobbies and other projects preventing him from writing.

Then, riddle me this, you might ask: Why are these middle books of the series taking so long to write compared to those that came before?

If George is writing at the same rate, what has changed?

I have a theory that matches up with what we already know about George and how he writes:

It is the place George is at in the story.

The middle part of a story is much harder to write because of the amount of plot threads that have been brought together.

Imagine a story as a large tent, where the highest point of the structure is the middle. The tent rises at the beginning, comes to its height in the middle, and then tapers down toward the other end. A story does the same thing. A few characters are introduced at the beginning, more characters are introduced in the middle, and by the climax the number of characters have been reduced. Each character brought into the story must have a fully developed arc and those arcs take time to plan, to construct, and end correctly.

George, right now, is in the middle part of that tent, where he has the majority of characters his story will have, the majority of plot threads that can have any hundred ways of being completed in the climax. It was easy for him to juggle the few point of view characters he had in A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but with A Storm of Swords and A Feast For Crows—the middle books of the “trilogy”—the amount of point of view characters increased and the amount of ways his story could go increased as well. Each of those characters has a role to play in the overall multi-book story; each of those characters demand attention from George to be created, to live and hold their purpose accordingly. More characters equals more work—it has ever been so—and right now George is in the high point of that work.

No wonder it is taking him a long time to write these middle books.

And while in Spain last year at a convention, George essentially said the same thing. The amount of characters and plot threads have increased in these middle books, leaving a great deal more work for him to enact and consider.

Then, arguably, the characters to be featured in A Dance With Dragons are the characters people passionately enjoy reading about. Most of the series is driven through them. Care must be taken with all of the characters but I can see George wanting to make sure those characters in A Dance With Dragons are written correctly and are going the right direction. The rest of the series hinges on it.

Readers have missed those characters since 2000. So again, I can understand why they would be angry.

But when you couple all of those character threads and plot threads that are in the middle of the story with George’s propensity to rewrite and rewrite, trying to find his way as a Freewriter in a story that forces him to backtrack almost as much as he moves forward, it takes more time to finish a book than it did at the start of the series.

The trilogy that is no longer a trilogy. And yet it’s not really the amount of books that is published but the amount of words it takes to tell the tale. Sure, A Feast For Crows was split from the point of view characters in A Dance With Dragons, but all of those words and point of view characters are needed to finish the tale. As long as we get them, the story goes on.

Annoying, isn’t it?

Is all of that a valid argument? I don’t know. It is to me, having written a great deal and having heard other writers have the same issues in the middle of a story.

I hope you will at least consider it.

UPDATING BECOMES FOOLISH WHEN DARKNESS GATHERS

December 6, 2006 Not A Blog Entry: “What I will no longer do, however, is announce any more dates by which I hope to finish and deliver the book. All that those estimates ever seem to do is ratchet up my stress levels and get me more grief.”

Where do you think that stress and grief comes from?

A clue: It does not come from his wife Parris.

Tongue in cheek, people.

Some fans are angry at George for not posting more on his Not A Blog about where he stands in finishing A Dance With Dragons. Most writers, especially the younger writers who use the technology given them, update their fans about where they are at in the process of writing their next book. I know I do it for The Dark Thorn and I’m not even a published writer. For me, as an Outliner, it helps see the progress I’ve made and how much I have left. For readers, it helps gauge when they can expect the next book.

It also gives a formal accounting of where the writer is at in that writing process and shows the writer is actually making progress on the book.

Once upon a time, George was more up front about his progress. He would post what he had finished and when he hoped to be done. After that initial 2006 year when he said he’d have A Dance With Dragons wrapped up, however, things changed for George. The fans this article is mostly pointed at reared up and became more vocal, more angry. They sent their misgivings to George about A Dance With Dragons being late; they sent emails and made blog comments filled with rancor.

Those posts upset George. And why shouldn’t they? It took him a bit more than three years to write A Feast For Crows after changing direction and George had to feel good about that. To have his fans turn on him undoubtedly was painful—and probably made him angry. He realized there was no point updating his fans if every time he did it he would receive grief in his inbox and posted on his blog. So he stopped.

Now readers are angry George no longer updates his fans about his progress.

And they use it as an argument that he isn’t working on Dragons?

Catch 22, anyone?

But let us analyze his Not a Blog. George talked about A Dance With Dragons approximately 28 times in the two years 2007-2008. That’s quite often, in my book, more than once a month on average. Some of his comments are just him assuring his fans he is working on the book, but some of the posts are George talking specifically about what point of view chapters he had finished or was working on. A Tyrion chapter here. A Dany chapter there. A Bran revision completed. A Jon Snow total rewrite accomplished.

These are updates.

Even if there is no meter to see where those updates stand in the completion of the book.

To want George to add more information about the completion time of Dragons when readers throw that progress immediately in his face is mesmerizing to me. Why would any writer want to do that to themselves?

Why welcome the gathering darkness with open arms?

Where updates are concerned, the fans became their own worst enemy.

THE DRIVEN HYPOCRISY

What bothers me about most of the comments I see bandied about concerning the lateness of A Dance With Dragons is the utter lack of respect I see given to George. He has orchestrated and given countless hours of enjoyment for people and now some of those people are turning on the very man who gave it to them. It makes no sense to me. Those who decry the very writing process that brought them such great, enjoyable novels in the past are being hypocritical. Asking him to change that process to benefit the readers will only lead to books of lower quality.

Is that really what we want?

ANY CONCLUSIONS?

Here, at the end of all things, what have I solidified in my own thinking concerning George R. R. Martin and A Dance With Dragons:

  • George is unprofessional. People have a right to be angry at him for it.
  • Writing is not a science. Don’t force writers to maintain a math formula.
  • George is a Freewriter. It can slow his writing down.
  • George deletes much of what he writes. It is the editor in him making the story right.
  • There is only so much writing an author can do a day. The rest is bad writing.
  • Hobbies recharge a writer and do not necessarily take time away from a book.
  • Middle parts of a story take longer to write due to the greater amount of characters and plot threads to worry about.

When I add all of those things together, I can understand why A Dance With Dragons is late, although if you look at it closely it is not late. It very well could be on time for those people who use math formulas. I believe George is unprofessional but the anger I see sent his way has little to do with that and is mostly based on assumptions about how he spends his time, his hobbies, convention appearances or other projects.

Why do sheer assumptions lead people thus?

When the very nature of the craft of writing George employs to write each book answers every point and is far more logical.

I doubt this article will change the opinions of those who have thrown heavy gauntlets into George’s face. Readers merely want the book in their hands and when it isn’t they get grouchy; many really don’t care about the why of it being late but rather that it is late. Each of us brings our own experiences and our own opinions to the fold and I’m not asking that my opinions be so readily incorporated as fact. My own opinions are, however, founded in the industry and the craft of writing and should at the very least be thought on.

After all, my conclusions have left me comfortable with George taking his time to make A Dance With Dragons the best book it can be.

Can you say the same?

The simple truth is: If you are unhappy with George, choose not to buy his books.

That is your right as a consumer just as it is his right to choose whether to write or not.

As a side note, before I wrote this article, I sent George a fifteen-question interview concerning most of this and A Dance With Dragons. We correspond periodically and I thought it wise to offer him a platform to discuss the various spears being thrown at him. To his credit, he declined the interview for the moment, stating he would not answer the questions until after A Dance With Dragons was finished.

What is to come with A Dance With Dragons? I bet it will be published in early 2010. What of the next books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring? I don’t know but if my theory holds true the books should be written a bit faster than the middle books since the amount of plot threads should be reduced. Time will tell if I am right about that or not.

The question is after all of this: What do you think?

  • A terrific article Shawn. I’m going to lead some of the more vocal people at SFFWorld to this piece. Like you say, it may not change many minds, but a rational article like this one may be a bit enlightening.
    Rob

  • Kyle M.

    This is a great article Shawn. I can’t jump into this debate as I haven’t read these books, but I found your “Evolution of a Trilogy” incredibly interesting and enlightening.
    These creative arts can be so difficult to deliver on, I’m surprised that he made a promise to deliver. Has he ever mentioned a writer’s block? Maybe a massive log-jam that’s been tough to get past?
    Thanks so much for this! I’ll now respectfully step out of the way for the fans to discuss.

  • I have no doubt it will not sway those who just really want the next book in their hand.
    But in a way I wrote the article not to try to change their minds but to give those people something to think about after Dragons is released. Because after that book is released and feverishly read by those fans, they are going to have to wait years again and perhaps my words will then come back to them in some fashion and give them something to think about other than the animosity that seems to bubble forth so easily and readily toward a man who has given such great enjoyment.
    It is what it is. Back to my other writing. πŸ™‚

  • Tom

    Shawn,
    Thank you for a well thought out discussion on GRRM. I am one of those fans who wishes A Dance with Dragons was done. I am not one of those fans who are rabidly angry with GRRM. It makes no sense to me to be angry at any author who doesn’t produce a piece of work.

  • Hey Tom,
    I think everyone thinks like you. Hellfire, even I want the book right now! πŸ™‚ As long as it is what GRRM intends and not something rushed to satiate and ultimately upset fans anyway. haha
    I have a feeling the people who are angry about the lateness of Dragons are a very vocal minority. The rest are angry but have a modicum of some understanding when it comes to delivery of the book.
    Nice to see you on Suvudu, Tom! Hope to hear from you again.
    S.

  • Arcelor

    Hello Shawn
    Nice article and thanks for pointing out that GRRM is unprofessional about his blatant disregard for deadlines and how GRRM needs his toys and figurines and the rest to keep his sanity.
    I like your article as it is quite lucid and explains how George as a free-writer moves forwards and backwards within the same time-frame, however it does miss out on 1 crucial point, enjoying toys and figurines privately is one thing and pushing them onto his fans all the time is quite another, no mention has been made of beloved writer’s latest ability to push every thing imaginable under the sun for sale except the thing which we want the most and that is the story itself.
    Arcelor
    PS: I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that the TV series Game of Thrones MIGHT NOT QUITE MAKE IT TO THE SCREEN FOR THIS VERY REASON THAT THE AUTHOR HARDLY SEEMS RUSHED TO FINISH IT.

  • What’s interesting to me is that I see as much of this animosity towards George from people on the professional side of publishing as I do the consumer side. He is everyone’s favorite punching bag. I think it’s because in SF publishing, the “professionals” are, at heart, just hungry fans like everyone else.
    Thank you for putting together an even-handed defense that separates legitimate gripes from emotional ones.

  • Interesting article, Shawn and I may expand on it on my own blog, as I’ve been meaning to address this question for some time (as a mod on the Westeros board it would be useful to have this information centralised). Some interesting additional points for you to consider though:
    Your dates for ACoK and ASoS are slightly wrong. The former came out in October 1998 and the latter in August 2000. They were released in the UK months ahead of their release in the USA. That has no bearing on the conclusions you reach though. And it’s amusing to remember that people complained at the time that ACoK was six months late from its planned publication.
    GRRM only started writing AFFC in September 2001. Prior to that he was working on a different fourth book in the series but junked 18 months work on it when it wasn’t working (when he decided to fill in the infamous ‘5-year-gap’). As a result, whilst AFFC took 5 years to come out, the published book took 3.5 years to write, or not much longer than Books 2 and shorter than Book 1. If he finished ADWD in the near future, than the writing times for the books will actually be remarkably consistent at 3-3.5 years apiece, with only ASoS coming in shorter and AGoT longer.
    As for the chapters he had left over for ADWD, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist posted an interview with the Bantam editors some time ago in which they admitted that GRRM has rewritten most, if not all, of that material. GRRM admittedly early on in the writing of ADWD that changes to the book had made him rework all of Jon Snow’s chapters, whilst those who track his readings at conventions have noted changes in other outstanding material from AFFC, most notably to Daenerys’ chapters. This confirms your point about GRRM having a very strong editorial role on the book (probably moreso than the actual editors) which means much more rewriting is taking place than other writers would undertake.
    As far as I know, no-one not involved is privy to GRRM’s contract negotiations, but the original contract for ASoIaF was for three books. I don’t know if a new contract was decided upon after ASoS or if additional books were delivered on a case-by-case basis. The latter would actually be more profitable for GRRM given the boost in sales of the series, and possibly for the publishers as well since a new contract based on his improved sales would require a substantially higher advance (likely in the ballpark of Goodkind or Erikson’s massive advances for their first books). If the latter books in the series are not under contract, that would also give GRRM greater freedom in when he delivers them and how long he takes over the editing process.
    Another point which fans are upset about is GRRM’s inconsistency on updating fans with news of the book. During AFFC’s lengthy gestation period, he updated his website more frequently about how the the book was going, and even gave out page counts of how many finalised, ‘locked’ chapters he had at any one time. Although the book took a long time to write, the fact that every 6-8 months he would reveal he had another 300 manuscript pages finished or something meant that people felt progress was being made. However, probably due to the rewriting of earlier chapters, he has not done this for ADWD. He has no obligation to, naturally, and I can understanding not wanting to raise or dash hopes, but I do agree it seems inconsistent he was so forthcoming with information on his last book and is so reticent about this one.
    A final note of hope: in Spain last year, GRRM did say that at the moment – that is, in AFFC and ADWD – the story is at its widest scope and that scope will narrow as the series progresses and storylines and characters converge. This will hopefully allow the final two books to be written in a more organised fashion and released in a more timely fashion than the previous two volumes.

  • Arcelor: Thanks for the kind words. I do admit that George does do a lot of merchandising and he likes notifying his fans of that — which is good for him and the fans — but I don’t think those little posts take up that much time, to be honest. Mere minutes that would add up to a couple of hours after a year. I don’t see that detracting from Dance in any serious way.
    But you are dead on when it comes to HBO. I would think the powers that be at HBO would acknowledge how long it takes George to write a book and be a bit hesitant to green light the entire project for seasons of viewing. We’ll see. I know if I was in charge of HBO I wouldn’t do it. haha
    Peter V. Brett: Absolutely. I’ve seen this as well at the last two Comic Cons I’ve attended. People throughout the entire industry, including his own publisher, are upset at George. Perhaps that just strengthens my point about how detrimental a late book can be to the business, I don’t know.
    And thanks for the kind words about trying to separate emotion from fact. It was hard for me to do but I think I mostly succeeded.
    Adam: You see, this is why I love the internet. People are privy to so many facts that others are not. If I had studied a bit more about this situation, I doubt I would have come across all of what you’ve written down. But almost all of those points solidifies my own feelings on the matter. Perhaps I’ll try to incorporate some of that in a revised article. Would you mind if I did that?
    I will admit my dates are slightly wrong because I don’t possess the UK editions. I only have the US ones. πŸ™‚
    I slightly remember George junking his original direction for Feast due to not wanting to jump years and years after the events in Storm. So Feast took about as long as the others in the series. Interesting. And I wish I had known more about him junking those 300 or 400 pages of Dragons that he had done before Feast was published. As you said, it just proves my point that the editor is alive and well in George and that makes for stronger books.
    One point I couldn’t figure out how to put in the article or even if I should is concerned with George updating his website on a consistent basis when it comes to how he is advancing on the new book. Some time back he melted down — almost literally I bet — getting so angry at his fans complaining that he made a post about not updating his advancement on Dragons because it was always met with a vocal disdain. In short, the fans ruined any kind of updates they might have gotten from him. I should go hunt for that post he made — might have been on his blog or in an interview, not sure.
    And I love your final note. Yay for me knowing what I am talking about. I hope others read it as well and understand a bit more about how writing works for some of us. Great post, Adam.

  • Shawn, not a problem πŸ™‚
    Regarding the 5-year-gap thing, FEAST didn’t exist at that time. Book 4 was going to be called ADWD, as Book 5 is going to be now, which has a lot of interesting implications: inspired by your post I’m doing a two-part investigation of the same subject on my blog, and the second delves into the actual writing and structural problems I believe GRRM has encountered, but why him keeping that title is extremely encouraging.
    For something even more encouraging, we have now seen (or heard, rather, at cons) the new version of the ADWD prologue, and it is easily the best prologue out of all five. We have also seen/heard the ‘old’ and ‘new’ versions of Jon’s second chapter, and the improvement of the newer one over the former is considerable. If those chapters are reflections of the rest of the book, than every second of the delay will have been worth it.

  • Thank you, Adam. I added a few of your points into the article. I hope it still reads okay after my changes.
    Definitely let me know when you post your two-part investigation. I’d like to highlight it on Suvudu and then mention this article again.
    As for the prologue, I haven’t heard it / read it. I did listen to George read a Jon Snow chapter two years ago at Comic Con, but I bet that chapter has since evolved and changed. If you say the prologue has been improved over time, then that bodes well for the book!

  • paran

    While I have read all the excuses for the delays, I believe that the real reason for them is a lack of motivation. I think that after a Storm of Swords and the success that it was, GRRM found that at some point he became bored with the main characters, thus resulting in RJJ situation of wanting to explore the other characters, etc. Also, with the deadlines, the merchandising and other projects would probably allow him to live very comfortably without having to realy puch to complete aDwD, thus less urgency and motivation, and providing a great procrastinating avenue.
    I find it telling that R Scott Bakker read aFfC and realised that he had introduced too many varying PoV’s in The Judging Eye, and immediately culled it down back to the central characters. Perhaps more back and forth with his editor would realise a tighter focus for GRRM.
    The constant mind-changing and restructuring is no doubt a sound reason for the the delay, but the seemingly disorganised manner in which this occurs (evidently on a fairly consistent basis) does not seem to allow for speedy writing in any sense.

  • Krafus

    Warning: long post broken up in a few parts
    This was a very interesting article to read, and an excellent defense of GRRM. However, I believe you mostly missed what’s become my main grievance with GRRM: his failure to communicate with his ASOIAF fan.
    The thing is, not only does he not talk about his progress on Dance (his Ice & Fire update page hasn’t been updated since January 1 of last year), but he actively discourages enquiries about it on his blog, deleting seemingly every post that refers to Dance. Admittedly, a number of those posts were likely phrased rudely, and thus I can’t blame him for removing them. Still, one would think that he’d finally get the message that a lot of people visit his blog in the sole hope of reading something, anything, about Dance.
    But while he’s a black hole when it comes to information about Dance, he’s more than happy to talk about everything else going on in his life, and especially the many miniatures, replica swords, other books, etc., related to his work, especially ASOIAF.
    It’s his blog and of course he has the right to talk about whatever he wants there, but over time I’ve come to find the dichotomy of actively discouraging questions about the next book of ASOIAF while advertising ASOIAF-related merchandise at seemingly every opportunity to be extremely frustrating. It’s as if we ASOIAF readers are nothing more to him than potential customers for the merchandise he keeps peddling. I know, that’s likely not the case, but to me and others, that’s certainly how it appears, and this feeling keeps growing with every day, week, month that passes with no news of Dance.
    Still, the person I’m most sad for isn’t we veteran ASOIAF readers who know what’s going on, but new, young Martin readers. Imagine a teenager who, having finished Harry Potter, has decided to explore the rest of the genre. He goes on a fantasy-related website and asks for recommendations. Naturally, he gets many for ASOIAF, and decides to read it. Once he gets to the end of AFFC, he sees Martin’s message, and goes on the Internet to see what’s going on with Dance.
    Naturally, the first place the unknowing teen will go to is Martin’s own website. Then he runs into a wall. He finds nothing informative in the dusty “update” or on Martin’s latest blog entries (unaware that all Dance-related comments have been recently deleted), and so makes a comment of his own inquiring about The-Book-That-Must-Not-Be-Spoken-Of. Imagine the teen’s unpleasant surprise at being met with outright hostility from more dedicated fans (yes, that’s happened), and then deletion and banning from the author’s part. That’s quite a nasty shock. I’ve come to envision the experience as thus:

  • Krafus

    Part 2
    One day, you decide to go visit the accessible-to-the-public factory of The Man, a well-known and highly popular car designer and manufacturer, his popularity mainly (and, some say, entirely) due to his IceFire series of sports cars. You’re hoping find out some information about the IceFire Mark V, the latest model of the series that’s now overdue by several years.
    Once you step inside the public visitation area of the factory, your hopes swell up. There are pictures of IceFires everywhere! Surely, in the midst of all this IceFire bounty, you’ll be able to find out something about the Mark V… There! An exhibit room called “IceFire Update!” You all but run in.
    However, inside the room you find nothing but disappointment. There’s no prototype, no specifications, no design concept drawings, nothing. The walls are bare, and you can see dust floating in the air from the light coming through the windows. The only thing inside the room is a worn wooden pedestal on which rests a yellowing sheet of paper, reading “I’m still not done with the IceFire Mark V. When I do, I’ll change the message here straightaway. Meanwhile, I suggest that you check out my other car series, the Huntress and the Road Card. You might also want to take a look at my fellow designers’ cars – they’re pretty good too.” A list of names follows, some of which you recognize.
    You make an irritated grumble in your throat. Other cars are well and nice, but it’s the IceFire you care about. And didn’t you see this message, or one very much like it, two years ago somewhere?
    Stepping outside the exhibit room, you look, around, and spot an announcement saying “The Man personally gives free tours of the factory once every three days. The next day is…” What luck! Today, and the tour starts in ten minutes. Surely he’ll mention something about the Mark V! You hurry to the assembly point, and are delighted to meet with a crowd of other IceFire fans. There seems to be no commonality among you, beyond a love of the IceFire.

  • Krafus

    (Part 3)
    The Man arrives on time. He is much as you’ve seen him on a few pictures, a bearded, plump, middle-aged man. Like the other tour-goers, you spend several moments congratulating him about the IceFire. The Man takes it all in good cheer, then the tour begins.
    The Man talks a lot while pointing out various features of the factory. He mentions at length his love of football, and bemoans that his two favourite teams, the New York Giants and Jets, aren’t doing all that well right now. He talks about the improvements made to his home, noting that he’s suffered a leak in the roof and a burglary during the last year. He says that he got the ful early this year, which forced him to rest for weeks (this is greeted with much sympathy by the tour-goers). He spends a long while discussing politics, and his dislike of the Republican party is clear. He reminisces about his trips to other countries for the last several years, whether it was to attend conventions or just to enjoy himself. He talks about the Huntress, the Road Card, and other cars that he helped design… but somehow, to your growing dismay, he never mentions the IceFire Mark V.
    The Man arrives in front of a large table on which rests a number of objects. He stops and turns to the group, smiling. “People, I know some of you, perhaps most of you, would like me to say something about the IceFire Mark V’s progress. But I don’t want to talk about it. Period,” he says.
    His smile widens, and he gestures expansively at the table and the objects lying on it. “But look here, I’ve got lots of shiny ornaments for your previous IceFires, or the Huntress or the Road Card, with even more coming down the line. I promise they’ll look really spiffy on the Mark V when it comes out, or just to admire in your garage. Here’s a Road Card Mark LXXXVIII fender, a sweet-smelling scantily-clad Cersei Lannister figurine you can hang from your mirror, a Jack Vance body kit, a Longclaw hood ornament, with a Needle-shaped one in pre-production…”
    As the other people on the tour are oooohing and aaaahing over the shiny ornaments, you frown and hesitantly speak up. “Excuse me, sir, but I’d really hoped to hear something, anything, about the Ice Fire Mark V.”
    At that point, several of the people you’re touring with turn toward you, angry. “Didn’t you hear The Man?” one man snarls. “He said he didn’t want to talk about it!”
    “Yeah,” adds a woman with a firm nod, “don’t be impatient. You should instead be kissing The Man’s shoes in gratitude for the four models he’s already produced. And look at all this shiny stuff!”
    You blink, startled by so much vehemence. “But the Mark IV was just an advance version of the Mark V,” you try to protest, “and it’s really been eight years since the last full production model -”
    “Dude, shut up!” another man says loudly. “Do you want to get The Man in a bad mood? You might upset him and delay the Mark V even more! Anyway, it’ll take as long as it takes, and if you’re not happy with it, you’re a whiner who doesn’t deserve to be here!”
    “But -”
    At tgat point, The Man, no longer smiling, does what the woman admonished you not to do, and loses patience. “Guards!” he yells. “Throw this annoyance out of my factory!”
    Suddenly, tow guards in black suits who are obvious believers in extreme bodybuilding appear on either side of you. They seize your arms, march you quickly to the factory’s entrance, deaf to all your protsts, and throw you roughly out into the parking lot.
    Thank you, The Man, you think bitterly as you pick yourself up from your hard landing on the concrete, your previous hopes and enthusiasm thoroughly dashed. Thank you, fellow fans.
    Not.
    * * *
    This isn’t behavior that encourages a new ASOIAF reader to soon return. Or indeed to long remain a ASOIAF reader.

  • Krafus: You must have missed my post in these comments about George’s lack of updating his fans about Dance. It is the fans fault why George no longer updates us on his writing progress on that book. He tired of the angry comments from these fans whenever he did and he realized the best thing to do is simply stop updating, leaving the next major update to be IT IS DONE. Why put up with all the crap being sent his way whenever he updates when to not update reduces that crap–his logic, not mine, although I understand where he is coming from.
    Perhaps I should comment on this in my article. I was going to but I didn’t think it important. Now I can see it is.

  • Paran: Lack of motivation is one of those assumptions I am talking about. As I’ve shown, it took George the same amount of time to write Feast as it took him to write the other books in the series. That’s not lack of motivation. That’s a writer doing his work. And right now, at this moment, we are at three years for Dragons. If George delivers the book this summer, he will be on the same pace as all of the other books in the series.
    As for the tighter focus offered by an editor, you could be right. But George is one of those writers who writes with his editor hat on. That’s the reason for his going back and forth. Since he is an editor, I believe that the extra POV characters in Storm and Feast are needed for the overall story. We will have to wait until the series is complete to see how each of those POV characters figure into the story, but I trust George knows what he is doing–mostly because he is an editor by nature.
    George has never been speedy. Not from the very beginning. And that ultimately is my entire point with this article.

  • Okay, I updated the article a bit with this new section:
    UPDATING BECOMES FOOLISH WHEN DARKNESS GATHERS

  • Great article.
    I don’t believe GRRM is unprofessional though, I take the man at his word and believe that whenever he announced anything about the book, it was with the best of intentions and the truth, as he believed it at the time.
    What I don’t get is the hostility and lack of respect.
    GRRM owes us NOTHING. If he decides to bail on ASoIaF and go write something new, then that’s his choice.
    I’m sure the same people complaining about the book being this late are the same ones who would throw him under the bus if he rushed out a piece of garbage.
    In this age of twitter, email and blogs where people can essentially publish what they had for lunch with the click of a button to millions of people, I think we sometimes forget true art takes time.
    GRRM is an ARTIST. His work is brilliant and people want to read it so bad BECAUSE he takes his time to get it right.
    Leave the man be.

  • Michael: I merely meant he is unprofessional for not adhering to his contract. Breaking a contract is unprofessional in my book. Maybe not in yours, but in mine for sure. πŸ™‚
    As for this point:
    “I’m sure the same people complaining about the book being this late are the same ones who would throw him under the bus if he rushed out a piece of garbage.”
    I couldn’t agree more. This point is dead on correct in every way imaginable. Another Catch 22.

  • Shawn, I put up the second half of the article. This may be hard to believe, but that’s the short version which simplifies a lot of the processes that happened. I hope that it illuminates the difficulties faced by GRRM in writing this book of the series, and also why the changes he has made which have expanded the writing time by several years do seem to be for the best.

  • Adam: I really enjoyed your first post, In Defense of Dragons, Part I. It is a great companion piece to my own article. I’ll be sure to post a link to it from Suvudu tomorrow or on Saturday, depending on my work load.
    As for Part II, I stayed away from it. I’ve mostly forgotten what I’ve read in A Song of Ice & Fire and I know you probably go in depth into the individual plot threads of the series and why George had to do what he did. When I pick that series up again before Dragons is released, I want as close to a blank slate as I can get.
    And since that might happen within the next year, I’m staying clear of it. haha

  • I wouldn’t say that there are major spoilers for the series and certainly none at all for ADWD. There are some very broad references to the existence of certain storylines in the book, but those can pretty much be inferred from where the story was left hanging at the end of Storm of Swords and the knowledge of which characters are due to appear next. I don’t think it’s a major spoiler that Jon Snow starts ADWD where he was left in ASoS πŸ˜‰
    I understand your point however. Despite having this reputation as a major SoIaF fan I have only read the first three books twice. I got a bit burned out on Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings after reading both works through four or five times, so I’ve deliberately held back on rereading SoIaF too many times to keep it as fresh as possible when I do come to re-read the series (some time this year, hopefully).

  • Adam: I generally stay away from series that are not finished yet if at all possible. But I had heard so much about GRRM that I just had to dip into the series. They were fantastic, of course, but I haven’t reread them yet. I have a feeling I’ll be able to reread them every six years and it will be like reading the series for the first time. πŸ™‚ So every other book I will ignore until the next one comes out. haha

  • LC

    First, congrats on writing your book. I have found personally that what causes me too much angst is me spending too much time thinking or worrying about the series or Mr. Martin’s books.
    You presentation of reasons is sound but I worry most that this is a series that is out of control. I hope your “middle of the tent” theory is correct but I suspect instead that plots and viewpoints and twists and characters will get increasingly more complex, not less.
    I fear and believe that the tale will continue to grow in the telling. I find it very unlikely that things will contract, especially if your “outliner vs. free writer” model is true. Mr. Martin will continue to write brilliant chapters, great characters and this thing will grow and grow.
    He has no obligation to me except to do the best he can. I wish him well but there isn’t much room for me to recommend the series anymore because I wonder if a 12 or 16 year wait is in store before it is finished.
    I am sad but not angry. I don’t presume to tell an artist how to create art and I think it is foolish for others as well.

  • Wonderful article. As a writer myself, I have no problem with how long Martin has taken to write his books. It takes as long as it takes. And it puzzles me that people would insult the man who creates the thing they love… seems blatantly counterproductive.
    My concern with aSoIaF is the story itself, and how this relates to the delays. I have this feeling from reading the last two books (and particularly the last one) that the story has escaped him. It’s overgrown his grasp a little and he’s finding it rather difficult to contain it and drive it forward as some sort of whole and organic narrative. You talk about the POV characters and plotlines, and I agree completely. Except these are all author choices. They are not always necessary elements, and I think some of his choices have harmed the overall story, killing its pace and flow, diluting its drive and inherent drama.
    To me, he too easily falls in love with his secondary characters, giving them POV… and thus having to fashion specific plotlines to weave through the overall narrative, plotlines which have to carry full character arcs. And many of these secondary storylines are unnecessary and don’t really seem to further the main arc of the novel, even to the point of feeling like digressions at times. This seems to hamper the story a little, as it’s become rather bloated. I think more discrimination and focus would’ve helped keep the story moving and keep it more under control. Yes, some of those secondary characters are great, are interesting in their own right, but that’s what they should remain: interesting secondary characters.
    Yes, some of that bloat is natural to the “middle” of the story… but I think he’s taken it to an unnatural extreme. A Feast for Crows sometimes made me think of Grady Tripp in Wonder Boys, with his gargantuan novel that kept growing because he was unable to make the choices necessary for the story. His selection process had failed and he simply included everything. I think part of the frustration some readers have with Martin’s progress is simply the frustration they have with that last book. I think they unconsciously feel that bloat and lack of focus, lack of direction, and so they desperately want the next book so they can get on with it. A
    Feast for Crows was a rather static novel, compared to the others, and I think many of the readers are hungry for movement.
    It seems to me that he either has to start dramatically dropping the POV privileges of certain characters or start killing them off (and how many new characters will he fall in love with in the next books? Beware, beware…). But, luckily, Martin has shown he’s quite willing to be brutal in the past, as his treatment of Eddard showed early on. I hope he still has the chutzpah to lay out a few more signature moments such as that.
    Thanks again for the interesting and well-reasoned article.

  • LC: Thanks for the nice words concerning The Dark Thorn. I’m trying and trying and it keeps me relatively out of trouble.
    Relatively.
    Then a topic like this comes up and it sucks all of my time! haha
    Ice & Fire very well could be out of control. But I also believe, if little birdies speak true in my ear, that if we do indeed see Dragons this year George will be back on track. Those 18 months he wrote after Storm where he had to change his mind and begin anew really can’t be counted in my mind. It’s the amount of time he put in on Feast and Dragons that I think is important to look at it and both of those books have taken 3 years respectively. So that boasts well for what is to come after Dragons.
    As I wrote, George touched on the “tent” theory while in Spain last year, where he told the audience that the amount of characters he is juggling at the moment is the most the series will have and with Dragons and its sequels those characters will lessen and lessen. What that tells me is George is aware of what is happening in his series and, as an editor, he won’t let the series grow and grow.
    Now, he may not have control of it and although he knows about the “tent” the tent could take command and wreck his wishes. But knowing George I think he’ll be in control of the work. With every chapter he writes the paths to the end now grow fewer and that end becomes clearer. I think that is a positive thing to consider.
    So, my prediction, is that we’ll see the end of the series in no worse than 7 years. And to me, 7 years is nothing when it means the series is written to George’s satisfaction and might be one of the best ever written.

  • Bryan: I think the fear you have, which matches LC’s fear, is certainly a valid one. But as I said in my last post, the expanding secondary character list is known by George and I think he may be aware of the trap he wandered into in Feast. We will see what happens in Dragons.
    My gut instinct tells me Dragons is going to be universally loved by everyone. Even if it possesses secondary characters, the appearance of all those favorite POV characters is going to drastically overshadow the secondary characters, leaving readers so enthralled by the book they will fall in love with George all over again.
    Then the three year wait begins again. haha And by the end of that I’ll be dusting this article off and posting it again somewhere.
    Life is cyclical, eh? πŸ™‚
    PS: Oh, and I like the website you got there, Bryan. Good information on there. It’s very cool you got together with two other people who love to write and try to dispel a lot of the mystery to the process. I wish there were more people out there like you!

  • Hey, Shawn, thanks for the reply and thanks for checking out my blog! An unexpected bonus. I thought carrying on a running discussion on writing with a couple friends (plus commenters) would be more interesting than sitting by myself and shouting out into the void (praying for listeners…) I’m enjoying it, as I love talking about the craft.
    As for Martin, I’m hoping you’re right. And I think you might be, really. I have the feeling that the very fact that he had to split the last novel into two (and split the storylines up), and the fan response to the lack of certain characters/stories, will probably force him to this conclusion. At which point he will act (or already has) on this necessity. I just can’t help feeling that it didn’t need to get to this point. From my vantage there seems a number of extraneous storylines… or, if not entirely extraneous, they were at least a bit more like fancy glitter than real story bedrock.
    Of course, I’m in the midst of editing an overly long fantasy novel, so cutting cutting cutting might be a little too much on my brain these days…
    My best, as always,
    Bryan

  • Sweetmartin

    i can understand why people (like me) complaints(or critisize)their frustration about an author(there is always things to complaint).but on the other side,why some people thinks they must defend him,especially when the author still living.
    i mean,if one author get famous and have success,it is not only why his writings is good,it is while people buy it,read it and recommend it,so the FANS.
    if the fans can make you a king,so they have the right to complain.
    and in this case George,had to do the best not to fool with the readers.maybe he owes us nothing,but maybe only the other half of that book for the half writtin STORY.
    and bloggers should keep bloggin,and not defending an author,who is still living and knows what he is doing.
    and like some admins on westeros,where the discussing is not allowed about ADWD,but here and wherelse they feel free to discuss,laughable.
    i for myself am complaining,because i am tired to chew the same conspirations,the same secrets and the same questions.and the answers we want to know who is who or where is who.
    it is ok if you must wait several years to know where is that one,but not decades.
    maybe no one cares what i say here,thats right,though life is short to wait.

  • Bryan: Not a problem. Any resource for writing is a good resource. There is such a mystery when it comes to writing and, worse, how to submit to publishers and agents. The information is out there but people can’t seem to find it for whatever reasons. Therefore, my thinking is the more websites talking about these issues, the better; it might lead to people finding the information they are looking for and following their dream.
    Sweetmartin: I’m not sure exactly what you are getting at. Defending the author? I am responding to people who are criticizing an author they say they love — erroneously, in fact. Every opinion they raise I can answer with logic and my response is not so much defending an author as it is rebutting people who have not thought their argument all the way through.
    When the complaints from fans are baseless, I get angry. That’s my right as a reader and a member of the sci-fi/fantasy community.
    As for you waiting decades? Huh? You wait years between books. Three years, to be exact, if you use the numbers. Writing a book takes time. For George it takes three years. It’s been that way since the beginning and it will be that way to the end. For you to say he should be faster is the very thing that is hypocrisy in this, because it takes three years to make the books as extraordinary as they are. To write faster would hurt the books and the story you have come to love. You can’t have it both ways.

  • I think Sweetmartin’s comment was aimed at me as a mod on the board. For the record, I opposed the decision to suspend discussion of ADWD on Westeros. As the ‘official’ ASoIaF board, I think we should roll the hard six and confront the issue head-on, particularly since we have a constant stream of newcomers and it’s the first thing they ask about. However, the admins felt that after more than three years of constant flame-wars about it and otherwise rational and respected posters getting suspended over it, there was nothing more constructive to say on the issue and I can certainly see where that perspective is coming from.
    I think Bryan identifies a key problem with AFFC. The ‘mini-POVs’ (Arianne, Areo, Arys, Asha, Aeron and Victarion) were supposed to be part of a new-format prologue, but they got too big and were scattered through the book instead, and then Asha was promoted to ‘proper’ POV status. I think if he’d known that was going to happen he’d have taken a different path. Arianne as a ‘proper’ new POV with an eye on events in Dorne and Victarion (and maybe Asha) as the POVs in the Iron Islands coudld have worked better. Arys, Areo and Aeron were superfluous to requirements.
    My understanding of the two new POVs in ADWD is that they were both introduced extemely reluctantly, and only because there are no established POVs near them but their stories need to be told if the narrative is to make sense. I am wondering in retrospective if maybe the strict POV-chapter format has worked out entirely as it should, and maybe a system more akin to Jordan’s (which is more or less the same, but he occasionally switches POV mid-chapter and can bring in one-off POVs and then have them exit with no fuss) might have worked slightly better.

  • Sweetmartin

    You was not directly(but look at your main title) my target,whom i meant.
    There are few people thinking(because they are mods on sites about ASOIAF or George have sent them free examples)that they are somehow in charge to defend him.
    and as you have said,George began writing 1991(he said it too)and book three was released 2000.but i think he was done maybe 1999.and since 1999 he writes on some characters.it is not a decade?
    and my opinion is (maybe it is crap)he knows well what he is doing.he cames from Hollywood.and he know how to manage such success and get avail from it.
    he have said he is an fulltime writer,and now some people want us to know he need his privacy,lol.
    i think there is more to say or how can we help George to release that book?

  • Adam: Gotcha.
    Sweetmartin: It has been a decade since some of the characters have been written about. True. But as I said in my article, it’s not the amount of books written or what characters are written about but the amount of words written to tell the entire story. George is still producing the same amount of words per book now that he did when he wrote Thrones. And that amount of words is taking him three years, just like it did when he began writing the series.
    And again, as I said in my article, I understand people are upset they haven’t read some of their favorite characters since 2000, but George is still writing words at the same output as he was at the beginning of the series. There is no way getting around that fact. The people who say he is lazy or he is enamored with his hobbies or he travels too much or he doesn’t write fast enough or he plays with his miniature knights too much are just plain wrong in their conclusions. These things do not keep him from writing. People want to find a reason to blame George and they use what they know, but when the writer is writing the same amount of words he was when he began the series in the same amount of time… well… there is quite simply no argument there.
    Words get us to the end of the series. Words are what people want to read. Words are what George writes — and writes often enough to maintain releasing a book of high quality every three years.
    The next book after A Dance With Dragons is going to take three years too. Mark my words. You can get angry all you want about that fact, but it’s the same speed he’s been writing at for the entirety of the series and it will see him the end the series at the same rate.

  • Hi Adam (and Shawn),
    It’s not just the POVs, to me, but entire storylines could be done without. Or at least happen offstage. LotR has its own interesting choices to discuss, but one of the things Tolkien was wise to do was not show everything. Tons of things happen offstage, but writers today seem to want to have a scene for every possible event that might be related to the story. Do we need to see a whole storyline of how the Rangers and Elrond’s sons make their way to meet up with Aragorn at Helm’s Deep? We don’t, even if it might be interesting. The main story loses focus if you split it too much, and I think that’s what has happend with ASoIaF a bit.
    It’s been diffused across too wide a canvas. I mean, I like Samwell Tarly… but his storyline isn’t needed. The Iron Islands stuff could easily happen offstage. The list goes on. To me, all this detracts from the main stories, which are broad enough as it is. You have Jon in the North as one major storyline, you have Dany and the Dragons as another, and then you have the game of thrones being played out amidst various Starks and Lannisters, etc. This is enough to braid together without trying to capture all the side events as well. The story has simply gotten cumbersome and sluggish, even though individual elements are still often wondefully done.
    I hope Martin can start narrowing it, and I’ll certainly clap my hands if he does. Whatever it’s problems might be, it’s still one of only two fantasy series I automatically go out and buy when a new book hits the stores (Erikson’s Malazan series, in all its madness, being the other).
    My best, as always,
    Bryan Russell

  • Teri

    Great article. Thanks for your insights. Oddly enough, although I am a huge George RR Martin fan, and I’ve never been angry at the delay. Do I wish I were reading it today? Absolutely. Do I care that I may not read it for years? Absolutely not. I’d rather read the right product in three years than a hastily slapped together version to meet a deadline today.

  • Marco

    Perhaps longwinded, but a nice balanced look at this issues. (It’s rare that you see people acknowledge both points of view.) My only quibble:
    In the “Driven Hypocrisy” section you use the word “given” where I think it’s far more accurate to say that George “sold” us the enjoyment. All in all, well done.

  • Bryan: I certainly respect your opinion on the matter, and if you want a tight book with no loose ends that gets you to the end of the book in the quickest way, I fullheartedly agree.
    But some writers like having plot lines that go nowhere or don’t aid the protagonists or antagonists in any way. I’m constantly reminded of Tad Williams saying this one time and I believe Steven Erikson said it as well. In real life not everything works out as planned, leaving people not helping in projects at all. I suppose that line of thinking is probably foreign to us; my OCD, after all, won’t let me not have every plot thread wrap up nice a neat in a perfect bow.
    Maybe George is one of those believers as well. I don’t know. True, his story might wrap up a bit quicker without those chapters, but as I said maybe they are required for George to even write the series and feel comfortable with it. If he needs a character like Sam, he needs a character like Sam.
    Teri: I’m pleased to see so many people coming out and saying that very thing. That’s where I stand — mostly.
    Marco: Longwinded? Ha! You should see when I really get going. haha The first book I wrote, Song of the Fell Hammer, was a 120,000 words book wrapped in 200,000 words brown paper! But thank you for the kind words. I’ll try to be more succinct next time around. haha

  • Hi Bryan. The points you raise are valid and have been debated many times before, but I think many of the storylines you describe as not being needed actually are important to the overall storyline.
    “It’s been diffused across too wide a canvas. I mean, I like Samwell Tarly… but his storyline isn’t needed.”
    Sam’s overall story is obviously important to the series. He’s now in league with Jaqen and whatever he is up to at the Citadel, and his role at the Citadel is clearly that of researcher. No doubt he will learn things at the Citadel that will be of import to the war with the Others. His storyline may also interact with that of the Ironborn (who seem to have blockaded Oldtown). Did we need to see so much of his long sea journey? Maybe not, although I think it was valid that we see Aemon’s death and learn from him the revelations about the whole Prince Who Was Promised myth (some vital info came out of that, particularly how far back Rhaegar’s interest in the subject went).
    “The Iron Islands stuff could easily happen offstage.”
    Again, much of it could. I found Aeron’s chapter unnecessary and Asha could have been used exclusively for the Kingsmoot section, with Victarion for the later chapter where Euron sends him to Dany. However, the Iron Islands stuff has been around for a while (several ACoK chapters were spent on it) and if the Ironborn do have a way to control dragons, that is clearly important to Dany’s story. There are other storyline developments as well in ADWD which tie the Ironborn more closely into the more central storyline, which hopefully will make the reasons for the AFFC chapters clearer.
    “The list goes on. To me, all this detracts from the main stories, which are broad enough as it is. You have Jon in the North as one major storyline, you have Dany and the Dragons as another, and then you have the game of thrones being played out amidst various Starks and Lannisters, etc. This is enough to braid together without trying to capture all the side events as well. The story has simply gotten cumbersome and sluggish, even though individual elements are still often wondefully done.”
    I agree with most of this, and it is interesting to see how few POVs were used to transmit very complex sequences of events in AGoT (eight, if I recall) compared to later books (there have now been twenty-five POV characters overall in the series). I think this slide began in ACoK when GRRM decided to bring in new POVs and definitely accelerated in ASoS where we had some great but ultimate superfluous chapters like Brienne and Jaime chatting on the boat or Arya’s at times interminable wanderings around the Riverlands. However those books were so focused and incident-jammed that those side-stories worked. AFFC showed the problems when the central narrative slackens and the side-stories take over a bit more. That said, I still think AFFC is a very decent book, just not quite up there with the first three or some of GRRM’s other books.

  • Adam: I have to admit, I haven’t read Feast. I’ve stayed away from it for the reason it is not a “complete” book. When I heard what George was doing with it and Dragons, I decided to wait until a fanatic fan integrated the chapters from both books into one read.
    My question to all of you is:
    Is Feast really a subpar book compared to the others? Is the writing off? Or is Feast not favorably compared to the others because the main characters people love love love are not in the book and psychologically those readers balk at Feast?

  • Adam, I basically agree with you to an extent, in that, yes, some of the information in these chapters and storylines is important. I just think, as a writer, there’s lot of ways to provide that information. George seems intent on showing it all by introducing new characters, POVs and storylines. Yet I think he could just as easily have found ways to introduce that information within the previous (main) storylines.
    I think the choices George made in regards to this is what leads to the sense of the story overgrowing itself. And the very fact that the story had to split shows this, because we all know that wasn’t intended. The very fact that the story can’t fit in even a HUGE book shows there are some basic problems with story structure. In other words, this wasn’t a choice to make the story better… it was a choice to make the best out of a bad situation. It was Plan B. Imperfect… but still pretty good, all things told, I must admit.
    Which takes me to Shawn’s question. Feast isn’t as good as the previous books, and for more reasons than the simple absence of beloved characters. The story’s flow and drive is subpar (comparative to his own high standards). He’s been building action and tension throughout the whole series, with these giant storylines slowly coming together… and then Feast ignores huge chunks of these stories, and what we get in its place is new storylines that lack much involvement, like Brienne wandering around and Samwell Tarly going to wizard school in a drawn out Potterish episode. Now, it’s been quite awhile since I read Feast, but really these elements didn’t support the overall narrative arc that Martin had previously built. The book is slower and a little more stagnant than the previous ones. Yet, in the details, the writing is still excellent. There’s still fine writing, there’s still that interesting grittiness, there’s still some acute character development (for example, Jaime Lannister’s continuing character evolution is quite interesting). In and of themselves the individual scenes are still quite strong, but the overall framework doesn’t work as well, and I would even say outright flawed on certain levels. But it’s not like it’s a bad book, certainly, or anything like that. There’s still some excellent writing and storytelling here, and it’s still better than much of what’s out there in the genre. But it hasn’t reached the high standards of the rest of the series, at least in my opinion.
    I’ll keep reading, of course, whenever the next book comes out. My fear is that the story continues to spiral ever outward. My hope (and this seems more likely) is that Martin knows these things all too well and is working to rein in the story and push it forward on a more focused track in the books to come, narrowing towards that endpoint. Only time will tell, I guess.
    And thanks for the interesting chat, guys. I must have missed all the flamewars on the subject. πŸ™‚ Poor Martin. Put out a couple more great books, though, and none of the rest really matters.
    My best, as always,
    Bryan

  • Having not read Feast, it is hard for me to gauge what was wrong with it. But losing the driving POV characters had to have hurt it. Not having Tyrion or Jon or Dany would take away the larger driving forces of the series, I think, and that is what probably ultimately hurt the book.
    Which is why I think Dance will be one of the best books in the series, because it will be condensed with strong POV characters that will push the narrative forward with every chapter read. It could be spooky great.
    And, once Dance is published, when a fanatic fan weaves Dance and Feast together, we’ll have a book that will probably feel a lot like Storm.
    But we’ll have to wait and see. πŸ™‚

  • Rob

    Hi,
    Really enjoyed the article, and I agree with most of the sentiment. I am not overly angry with the delay, etc. although I am as anxious as the next fan – and I still think it’s fair to say that Dragons is overdue.
    My biggest concern with the series is that, after all of the delay with Dragons, I question if the rest of the series will ever be finished. GRRM is not a young man; 60 if memory serves. While the remaining books may be easier and more quickly finished, GRRM could still be pushing 70 by the time they’re done. Let’s face it, things can happen to us at that time of our lives.
    I’ve suffered through one such disaster, Glen Cook’s Black Company series (which as far as I’m concerned is STILL a totally unfinished work). And having done so, I hate the thought of never know how the Song will end.

  • Rob: When I wrote the original article above, I had a section in there called THE AGE OF UNREASON. It spoke to those people who are worried that George might die or they might die before the series is finished. It was a relatively short part of the article but, in essence, it was me chastising those people for using George’s age against him. After all, how can we control our age of all things.
    I removed it because it really added nothing to the discussion other than reprimanding people for using George’s age and perceived health against him. I hate that. None of us can control our age, none of us can control how we write. So it’s a moot point, to me at least.
    Now, I understand people are afraid he won’t finish it. No one wants a similar scenario to what happened to the Wheel of Time series. But there is no one thing we can do to control it and there is nothing George can do to control it. He may pass on tomorrow; you may pass on tomorrow. Those kinds of things are entirely out of our hands.
    Of course, the ranters use George’s age as a reason why he needs to speed up writing the series.
    I find that sickening.
    And I also find it amusing as a writer. As I said in my article, you can’t force a writer to speed up or write more per day than his creative wall allows. It just doesn’t work that way, even for men in their 60’s — even for men in their 90’s.
    If George maintains his schedule, he’ll be finished with the series in 2015-2016. That’s not that far away at all.
    At least to me, it isn’t.

  • Shawn, if a fanatic fan weaves Dance and Feast together, well… that’ll be one large book. πŸ™‚ Marcel Proust sort of large. Needs its own shelf sort of large. Large. I shall start working out now.
    My best

  • “Is Feast really a subpar book compared to the others? Is the writing off? Or is Feast not favorably compared to the others because the main characters people love love love are not in the book and psychologically those readers balk at Feast?”
    I’d say that Feast is best looked-at as Book 1 of a new series. After the dramatic high and tensions of ASoS, it’s suddenly like going back to AGoT with the narrative starting slowly again and building up again, although it never reaches the heights of action and development of AGoT. Lots of things are being set up for the end of the series, and in particular the key achievement of AFFC is making it clear what impact Dany’s adventures on the other side of the planet have been having back in Westeros. The book also serves the purpose of showing that the effective end of the war isn’t necessarily the end of chaos and upheaval in Westeros. It is a set-up book, which is a problem for some people. The other major problem it has is that it leaves too many people teetering on cliffhangers, which is an issue given we may not learn their fates until Book 6, which is still the better part of 4 years off at best based on GRRM’s writing speed to date, possibly more.
    “I’ve suffered through one such disaster, Glen Cook’s Black Company series (which as far as I’m concerned is STILL a totally unfinished work).”
    I believe Glen Cook recently said in his interview on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist there are more Black Company books to come. He just took a break from the series to work on some other material.

  • Bryan: I’ve said this before elsewhere and I’ll say it again: I think one of the small presses should combine both of those books in a suggested chapter order by a fan and print the book on rice paper, like the Bible. haha That way the entire book can fit in the physical binding of a book and that way I can read the entire storylines as it could have been meant.
    Adam: A question. Will Dance have any of those POV characters we saw in Feast?

  • “Will Dance have any of those POV characters we saw in Feast?”
    Yes. Arya Stark, Asha Greyjoy and apparently Sansa appear in both books. Arya and Sansa’s chapters have been kept under wraps, but Asha’s was previewed at a con last year and I think justifies the choice of her as a POV in AFFC quite well.

  • Francine

    I’ve seen George Martin’s website; it’s a well-designed site. I don’t know why people have to be so mean. Writing is work. If his fans are upset, then they just need to learn to be patient. I mean Jordan fans are still waiting and he’s dead! But Martin’s fans know they can expect something and if they want quality, then quality is what they will get. Does it matter if it’s a little late? Little as in five years.
    As for me, I may be a semi-outliner, more of a freewriter, but I’ll stick to a deadline once I can land a writing contract. Contracts are a promise and promises in business should not be broken. Besides, I, personally, hate being late.Time is money so they say. George Martin’s book is worth waiting for as is Jordan’s. So I’m as content as a cucumber to wait. My mother has pronounced him a “bastard” for being late, but she said it with a big smile on her face. I knew she was kidding. We laughed.
    Great article Shawn, maybe someday my story will be critiqued here. πŸ™‚

  • Julia

    never comment on blogs. I had to comment on this one. Thank you so much for writing it since I very much agree. The strange thing is that I forget at times what the creative process is since I have fell away from it in my daily life.
    We do need to be more tolerant. We do also have a right to be frustrated. In my circumstance I was officially warned that this would happened before I even started the series. I waited two years before I started it. A Feast for Crows came out while I was reading the first three. Now of course, I am hooked and frustrated. Mostly because I cannot retain all the information given for long periods of time anymore. There is too much life going on. Also, because I know that I will have to re-read ALL FOUR books when the fifth comes out. This is why I am angry. This is probably why others are angry. We decide to take this out on the writer. Which is what my real point is. These articles need to exist, but really people are going to be jerks. That’s not going to change, and they are always going to take it out in the wrong place. In this case, on a writer whom to me, has dug himself to certain doom with the extensiveness of his plot lines. I wish when people wrote to those they admire they would also give an advanced warning as to it’s content. Example: CAUTION: Proceeding further may frustrate and hurt your feelings and staunch the creative flow. or ADVERTISEMENT: This letter will stroke your ego and boost your creative process.
    Wouldn’t that be great?
    Also, I suppose being the person that I am I always wonder… can one change their creative process? I spend my day to day life trying to improve my function. Could I do this in my creative process as well?
    More to the point, could George? Could he learn to map… and possibly instead of creating chapters of work (which in my mind I would eventually LOVE to read anyway…) just to disappear… create multiple outlines (10….15…100) That he could flesh out slowly and narrow down the options. I guess that’s what I always think about when wondering about the next book.
    PS- Amazon needs to stop pre-selling the book…. it comes up for pre-sale then drops… then shows up again. I should have been smarter and checked George’s site in the first place and yes it was supposed to be published a year ago… but we all know the book is not finished. It’s kind of like missing a period when you are trying to get pregnant… and then it shows up a few weeks later and you assumed you were pregnant but never took the test. Stupid Amazon. I bet some frustration comes from them…

  • Zonotrichia

    When A Feast for Crows was published, I hated it. The quality of the writing was (mostly) fine, but the novel lacked cohesion. It seemed a collection of disconnected tales from unfamiliar or unlikable characters. We get bits of Arya, Sansa, Jaime and Sam, but they’re overwhelmed by the Dorne, Ironborn, and Brienne. The Cersei chapters are horrific in both content and quality.
    Disgusted, I put the series aside for a few years. When I picked AFFC up again a few months ago, I was pleased to find that I was enjoying it. In fact, the parts of it that I had initially despised were now the parts that I liked best. The Dorne chapters, for example, are really pretty great. I think that I had originally been upset about them because of what they weren’t. They weren’t Tyrion. They weren’t Jon. They weren’t the story that I wanted to read. But now, those few years of apathy toward the series allowed me to stop caring so much about Jon, Dani, and Tyrion. In the absence of that caring, I was able to look at AFFC with a fresh set of eyes and appreciate it for what it was, rather than what I had once wished it to be.
    However, by any measuring stick, AFFC is not up to par with its predecessors. If it had been the novel that A Storm of Swords was, I don’t think that George would be taking so much heat for the delayed publication of A Dance with Dragons. We were told that he was breaking the book into two parts so that he could tell all of the story for half of the characters, rather than half of the story for all of them, but ultimately, A Feast for Crows still feels like half of a book.
    I think that fans have a right to feel let down and angry. But, being angry won’t get the novel published any sooner and I’m willing to bet that most fans who have read through the story this far will pick up Book 5 when it comes, whether they swear it off right now or not.

  • A Zen-like chill

    In response to your response to Krafus’ post, which I thought summed up my feelings on the matter quite well:
    You said “It is the fans fault why George no longer updates us on his writing progress on that book.”
    I disagree.
    It is SOME of the fans’ faults that George no longer updates us. He chose to respond to them, rather than respond to the rest of us, who I’m fairly certain greatly outnumber the naysayers.
    Those are my feelings, at least. He should take as long as he needs to finish the second part of book four, until he gets a finished product that is where he wants it to be.
    But thousands of us getting no information from him, since January of last year, due to what a couple hundred (or however many it was) asshats posted on his site is an insult to the rest of us.

  • Steel_Wind

    What do I think?
    I think you are probably right. But that misses the point completely.
    The question isn’t what do I think. The quesiton is: what do I feel?
    And what I feel is *angry*. Your explanations, however rational, however lucid, do not mollify me. I am unassuaged in my being pissed at George for making me wait far, far, too long for these books.
    Viewed on a transactional basis, GRRM simply has not a deposit to the “love bank” in quite a long while. He was overdrawn when AFFC was released, and he’s stil in the overdraft column. And it’s only getting worse, not better.
    But far worse is his lack of discussion about this. Instead, he pretends to ignore the subject and comments only on other things.
    Which fuels the resentment to an even higher level.
    So when the fan goes to GRRM’s website, there isn’t anything new about A Song of Ice and Fire. Instead, there are all sorts of news about some old novel GRRM wrote that was out of print but now, joyous news: it’s back! (We don’t care. It was OOP for a reason George. Where’s ADWD!!)
    And there’s news about yet naother frikkin’ Wild Card novel. (Also fell OOP for a reason. We don’t care. Where’s ADWD!!) Or about another SF convention he’s attending. Or about his passion for football, or…something else.
    Anything else, it seems.
    Fact is, there is news and gossip on GRRM’s website about everything OTHER than what the fans who visit there really want to hear about.
    So what does that mean? OF COURSE HIS FANS ARE ANGRY WITH HIM. He has chosen a course which leaves those fans with an impression that he does not care, isn’t working on the book diligently and is just too busy doing other things in his life.
    And when all he will talk about is the other things, the anger and resentment just festers like an abscess, rising to the surface.
    So, rational points aside – that’s the heart of it. It isn’t about what fans THINK. We are talking about resentment and anger. It should be obvious under those cricumstances that what is important is what the fans FEEL.
    And when reason meets the visceral, reason loses. Every time.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Steel Wind: I love people who can’t speak rationally. Love even more those who choose not to. πŸ™‚ It just proves my point all the more—and exonerates George all the more.

  • Steel_Wind

    Yes I suppose it does… except for one thing.
    George’s refusal to discuss the state of the novel more on his website unnecessarily antogonizes his fans and makes this all the worse. It is not only a mistake; it comes off as petulance.
    “If I tell ’em and I’m wrong, I lose. If I don’t tell ’em, I lose. Can’t win for losing”, says George.
    Yes, says I… except for one part. You can tell ’em and NOT be wrong, and then all is well.
    That takes a level of commitment to writing than I question whether rich and successful, GRRM has in the same supply as the GRRM who had-to-write-to-pay-the-rent did.
    In effect, I do not accept that the limits of one’s “creative wall” are never affected by the corresponding level of one’s bank account. I think for most people in all walks of life, there is a direct relationship between the two.
    Genius though he may be, I doubt George is THAT different from the rest of us.
    Sorry. There it is.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Steel Wind:
    “George’s refusal to discuss the state of the novel more on his website unnecessarily antogonizes his fans and makes this all the worse. It is not only a mistake; it comes off as petulance.”
    In your view it comes off as petulance. To me it makes sense. If his updates cause more angst than not writing the updates, I think it is fairly simple which one he should choose. I know which one I would choose — the one that leads to the least amount of stress.
    “Yes, says I… except for one part. You can tell ’em and NOT be wrong, and then all is well.”
    That may have been true five years ago. But certainly not now. Stating quite clearly when Dragons would come out in 2006 and the resultant destruction of the Jon Snow chapters which changed the release date for the book ended all possibility for your idea. The moment he had the perception of being a liar was the moment your idea died. If he hadn’t done that, it would be different. But the past happened and every update he made and could make now would be met with the anger I’ve already spoken about. So while your thought in theory is a nice one it is no longer practical now — at least until Dragons comes out. When that book is released he might be able to go back to his updates. Until then… nope.
    You can believe what you like about the “creative wall” and what success does to a writer. But I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment. It’s true, some writers find success and quit altogether. But as I’ve already proven George is writing the same amount of words he was writing at the beginning in the same amount of time. That is a fact and is inescapable. Therefore success has not changed his creativity.
    On another note, creative people are different than your successful stock broker, business owner who hands the reins over to someone else, etc. They are creative because they are compelled. Look at Terry Brooks. Never had to write another word after the original Shannara trilogy. And yet if he doesn’t write he gets cranky and he publishes a book a year. How many writers could I name in a similar situation, writers who write well into their 70’s and 80’s and who have no financial need to do so. Thousands over the years. So while I appreciate where you are coming from and in a different situation you would be spot on, writers are different — creative types like painters and musicians are different — and those differences must be taken into account.

  • Zonotrichia

    Shawn: While you did make a few rather valid points in your original blog post, you’re now coming off as somewhat fanboy-ish and as you haven’t even bothered to read A Feast for Crows, it’s rather hard to take you seriously.
    I am in agreement with you that being angry at GRRM does nothing to get the A Dance with Dragons published any sooner, but come on man, there are plenty of good reasons for readers to feel disgruntled.
    Why, exactly, are you defending Martin so ardently?

  • Shawn Speakman

    Zono:
    “While you did make a few rather valid points in your original blog post, you’re now coming off as somewhat fanboy-ish and as you haven’t even bothered to read A Feast for Crows, it’s rather hard to take you seriously.”
    That’s an amusing comment, since the comment itself negates me being a fanboy. haha You are right, I haven’t read Feast. If I were a fanboy, I would have read it.
    And how is it hard taking me seriously? Because I don’t know where plot threads go in the series or what characters were offed in Feast? None of that has any bearing on this argument.
    No, the reason why I wrote the article has to do with enlightening the masses. Seriously. The same arguments about the lateness of George kept popping up all over the internet and those arguments were rife with inaccuracies and misconceptions. Unlike many people in this world, when I see something wrong I want to fix it. I speak out. This is one of those instances.
    So my ardent rebuttals have nothing to do with being a fanboy, but rather setting the record straight.
    “I am in agreement with you that being angry at GRRM does nothing to get the A Dance with Dragons published any sooner, but come on man, there are plenty of good reasons for readers to feel disgruntled.”
    There are some good reasons. I pointed all of those reasons out at the beginning of the article, if you go back and read that part of it. I have no problem with people being angry. I’ve said that time and time again. I do have a problem when that anger is driven by erroneous information or poorly thought out reasoning. Hence the reason for the article.
    And for some reason people keep going back to those error-ridden arguments.
    So as they keep popping up here, I’ll keep responding.

  • Zonotrichia

    “Unlike many people in this world, when I see something wrong I want to fix it. I speak out. This is one of those instances.”
    Oh, you’re a martyr. I should know better than to waste time on Internet martyrs. Peace out.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Zono: First, that’s not the definition of a martyr. I’m not seeking admiration or sympathy from anyone, nor sacrificing anything. Want one of my dictionaries? I have a few, ya know…
    From your statement, I can see you are the type of person who, walking down the street, purposefully passes by an innocent man who is getting beaten by three thugs. You do nothing for that man. I, on the other hand, go to defend him.

  • Scooter

    Okay, I had to create an account just to address one big problem that I have with your entire, bizzaro love-fest defense of GRRM and his unprofessional behavior.
    Several times you state that it is “the fans fault” that GRRM no longer updates his work on ADwD. Are you serious? You MUST be joking, right, because you can’t honestly swallow that! The last time I checked, the “fans” are the paying customers in this equation. It’s like saying it’s the fan’s fault that Manny quit on the Sox last season because they whined about him sitting out too many games! Your position is that it’s a-okay to punish paying customers for having expectations. That’s indefensible to any rational person.
    You make some good points, but only so far as they address the humanity of the situation. GRRM is a living, breathing person with needs and emotions, not some cold machine or computer who can just churn and write, and every writer is different. All good points and all true. However, the fact remains that it’s taken 9 years and we STILL don’t have the product that was promised. And yes, it was promised, predicted, and prosthelytized. Is that even a word? If it wasn’t, it is now. Anyway, all that and 9 years later, sill no ADwD. And there’s no true defense of that, just noise and excuses.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Scooter: If you don’t want to look at the situation at all and put your blinders on, yes, 6 years have passed since the original incarnation of Dragons should have hit the bookshelves.
    6 years. Not 9 years. 9 years ago is when Storm was released. 9 years ago you weren’t promised Dragons. If you are trying to say George should have written Dragons in a day and published it, you are a bit off.
    No, I think you mean it’s been at worst 6 years since the original Dragons was “promised.”
    But that original incarnation of Dragons will never be written, will it?
    As I wrote in my article. As others have said here.
    Do you forget that? I guess so. Or maybe you didn’t know that. Maybe.
    And do you just ignore Feast? Which obviously, you do for some reason. Feast was released 3+ years ago, not 9. Feast is part of the series you know. Feast is as large as Thrones and the words needed to tell the story George intends were needed there. So how can you say 9 years when you got at worst half “of what you were promised” during that time?
    In short, in 9 years, you will get a book that is larger than Storm and is what George intends, rather than two books that would have been flawed and would not live up to his standards.
    Or your own, I bet.
    If you are pissed at that, go ahead. Be pissed.
    But don’t for one second try to pass off that if George had used those original 18 months of original Dragons work and published the flawed original Dragons, that the series would be better off. It wouldn’t be. Otherwise he wouldn’t have burned those 18 months worth of pages and started over.
    And if you agree with that last statement, you have to look at the facts that George is writing a book every three years.
    Feast.
    And now Dragon.
    Both enormous books matching the size of previous books in the series.
    All facts. Not noise. Not excuses. Facts.
    No, take those blinders off, man. You can’t sit there and argue with half-truths and uneducated rants. You can’t be part of any serious discussion if you don’t take all of the information available and use it to come to a conclusion. It sounds like you are trying to charge guilt before that guilt is proven, foregoing the necessary trial where all facts are brought out in favor of being judge and convicting on a whim. Don’t do that. You are doing a disservice to yourself and those around you.

  • Scooter

    Once again, you allow your own assumptions to rule your arguments, Shawn. First things first:
    1. Dance was announced 9 years ago (actually it was announced before that, but we can’t count the time he was working on the earlier installments) not 6, so we have, indeed, been waiting 9 years. Somehow, you’re trying to say that we can’t count the normal amount of time he would have been working on it? That first 3 years it should have taken, you weren’t waiting? Weird, I was.
    2. No, that original incarnation of Dance will never be published, but that was, in fact, the one that was promised. Just because it will never be published, you want to give a total pass on that? Gimme a break!
    3. No, I don’t ignore Feast, as much as I wish I could. But Feast has nothing to do with this discussion. Feast was not promised, it was not announced until just prior to publication. Feast just made things worse, as it was a poorly cooked appetizer to a highly hyped main course that still has not come. So what does Feast have to do with this? Nothing. It is not Dance and by George’s own admission, covers very little of the material that would have been in Dance.
    4. “In short, in 9 years, you will get a book that is larger than Storm and is what George intends, rather than two books that would have been flawed and would not live up to his standards.” Here’s where your assumptions begin to run rampant. Umm, how do you know these things? Did you chat with Georgie before writing your answer? How do you know what any author actually intends? You assume that the product that is released is what the author intended, but have nothing to back that statement up. How do you know Dance will be longer than Storm? You assume, based on several sources, but don’t and can’t know. You assume flaws all over the place, but again, that’s just your read. Based on no source or piece of actual information.
    5. Your assumptions continue to haunt you and undermine the basic premise of your entire justification for the wait, when you state, “But don’t for one second try to pass off that if George had used those original 18 months of original Dragons work and published the flawed original Dragons…” Wait a second here, the original Dragons was FLAWED somehow? Whoever said THAT? Because I know George didn’t. His NaB is very consistent in his claim that he simply changed his mind when he decided to cover the time gap in the Stark childrens’ development, etc. No one said the original work was flawed at all, and George said at the time and since, that he used less than half of what he had written for Dance in the publication of Feast. So stop trying to make it seem like we’re being done a huge favor here by not having a substandard product thrown at us. I think George himself would be offended by your use of the word ‘flawed.” It wasn’t flawed, just not the story he decided to tell/sell, or the way he wanted to tell it, after all. And he burned nothing, threw out nothing. He never states that, he uses the term, ‘rework’ pages and chapters. So it’s not like he was starting from scratch all over again. And I have no ideas if the series as a whole would be better off or not, had the original Dance format been published. And neither do you.
    6. And no, I clearly don’t agree with any of your assumptions, so I don’t agree that George is writing a book every 3 years. That sort of twisted math is straight out of the Bush administration’s spin department.
    7. Do not refer to Feast as enormous. It’s nowhere near the size or scope of it’s predecessors. And you have no idea how big Dance is, now do you? Again, you assume.
    8. You claim that there are facts in your answer somewhere, going so far as to state, “All facts…” Let me explain something for you. From Merriam-Webster:
    FACT – a piece of information presented as having objective reality.
    Did you catch that? Objective reality.
    ASSUMPTION – a fact or statement (as a proposition, axiom, postulate, or notion) taken for granted.
    And your very insulting reply notwithstanding, I’ve ignored nothing in stating my arguments. I religiously read and gobble up every piece of information about GRRM and the series. I scour the internet. How do you think I found you? And I have no idea what you’re talking about charging guilt before it’s proven. Do you have Dance? Have you read it? Is the cover pretty? The FACT remains that you don’t, I don’t and nobody else does either. And that’s all the proof I need.
    In my post, I never attacked you personally or had anything negative to say about you. I limited my comments to a specific argument you had made several times that I thought erroneous. You, however, attack me personally from the first line of your response and keep them up all the way to the end. I apparently range from selectively blind to ignorant and judgmental all the way to uneducated. Very disappointing. You see, I make assumptions too, and assumed this would stay more professional in tone.
    So don’t preach to me about your facts, Shawn, because here’s one you probably don’t like: We’ve been promised this book for far too long with nothing to show for it except crap collectibles that line the author’s pockets.
    Here’s a random entry from the June 2006 Not a Blog, “Meanwhile, for those who do read this page… yes, I am still working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, and yes, I still hope to deliver it this fall, or by the end of the year at the latest.”
    Shawn, don’t bother to reply to this post for my benefit because I won’t be around to read it. I’m moving on to a board moderated by someone with a little more objectivity, less personal rancor, and more maturity in stating their positions.
    Good luck with your life and pursuits. Best wishes… Scott

  • Shawn Speakman

    Scooter:
    To your points, which actually aren’t based in the reality of what has transpired the last 9 years:
    1) You can’t be angry that you’ve been promised a book 9 years ago when it takes time to write that book. It take George three years to write a book, so the only time period you should be angry with is six years long. You can’t receive a promised book before it is written.
    2) He wrote for 18 months straight, had a lot of material, and decided what he was trying to do was a failed experiment and he had to start over again. He did. You are lucky he only took 18 months rather than three years to figure that out. Does he get a pass on that though from me? Not entirely. As I said in my article, George is unprofessional for taking longer to hand in his manuscript. Does that make me angry? Yes. Is he unprofessional? Yes. Do I understand why he canned 18 months worth of work to make a stronger series? You bet. The difference is you don’t. I’ll address why in a bit.
    3) That’s right. Feast covers very little of what was intended in the original Dance because those two books are set in completely different time periods. From the sounds of your argument, you are one of those people who are pissed off Feast didn’t have any of the “cool” POV characters (Jon, Dany, Tyrion, etc). It just oozes out of your condemnation. I think you don’t understand what George did in those 18 months right after Storm was released and why he canned it. Go back and read my article and then read the posts by Adam Whitehead and you’ll see — maybe. George made a decision to change his direction in the series after working on it for 18 months. Why is he not allowed to do that if he thinks it will make the series stronger? He’s the writer, not you, in case you haven’t noticed.
    4) “You assume that the product that is released is what the author intended, but have nothing to back that statement up.”
    One, you are taking my comments out of context. The “book” I was referring to wasn’t Dance but the combination of Feast and Dance. That book will be larger than Storm. But looking just at Dance, that book is going to be filled with all of those characters you’ve so obviously missed the last 9 years. I can already see the writing on the wall: fans are going to love it because of that fact. And it will lack those slower chapters or less fan beloved characters that Feast is filled with.
    And yes, I know George. Personally. I know what kind of writer he is. He is a man who won’t put anything out unless it is exactly what he has intended. He won’t placate people. He won’t put out something less than what he deems his best effort. He has said it repeatedly to me at conventions and in my own home; he has actually said it repeatedly to you if you read reports from conventions where he has read excerpts of Dance.
    5) Actually, you are wrong here. George has said after 18 months worth of work on Dragons that he realized he hadn’t tied up certain threads in Storm and wouldn’t be able to after jumping years forward. Those incomplete threads would undermine the whole rest of the series. That’s why he stopped writing 18 months in.
    Besides, why can’t you understand that if George changes his mind in direction that it is for the best? He’s the author, not you, as I will probably again repeat in this, and he has every right to write the series as best he sees fit. If he deemed the 18 months worth of work unfit for publication, it was!
    6) This comment actually made me laugh. Everything points at the four books being written 3 years apiece. You deny the facts I’ve laid out in my article. Feast took three years to write, just like the previous three books.
    7) When I said that, I wasn’t commenting on Feast alone. I was calling the combined POV book of Feast/Dance as being enormous and larger than Storm. But looking at word counts alone, Feast is the same size as Thrones and Clash — and George wrote the words in Feast at the same rate he wrote those first two books. It is hard to escape that fact, isn’t it?
    8) “We’ve been promised this book for far too long with nothing to show for it except crap collectibles that line the author’s pockets.”
    Funny. As I pointed out earlier, you got half of that story in Feast, which was three years ago. I think you need to go back and re-read the note that George wrote at the end of Feast, to see his reasoning. It was his choice to split the book the way he did and his choice to change the direction the series is going. If you don’t like it or the direction he’s taken, perhaps George isn’t the writer for you anymore.
    “Here’s a random entry from the June 2006 Not a Blog, “Meanwhile, for those who do read this page… yes, I am still working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, and yes, I still hope to deliver it this fall, or by the end of the year at the latest.”
    And once more, and I’ll say it again before this discussion is over, you have ever right to be angry at George for lying or misleading you. By all means, rant away!
    The whole point of my article, however, was not to counter those arguments which I happen to agree with but to prove that George is writing at the same rate he was when he began the series and that people need to lay off his hobbies or travel habits or other work he does. That’s all. Because looking at pure word counts and the time it has taken him to write them — facts, my friend, facts — George hasn’t lost his ability to write words and move the story along. There are dozens of the rageful out there who suggest differently — who think George isn’t writing on Dance in favor of his other projects and hobby time — when the facts counter them.
    Maybe you don’t understand where I am really coming from in all of this. As I wrote in the article right from the outset and as I’ve reiterated numerous times in these comments:
    If you want to be angry for the lying or lack of professionalism, do it! By all means! I agree! Scream your bloody head off. Post all you want on all blogs and start an uprising that will shake the foundations of the very universe!
    My whole issue is with those people who place erroneous ideas about his “lack of writing” or his “hobbies” when all facts are contrary to those points.
    Simple, really.

  • Zonotrichia

    Shawn: “From your statement, I can see you are the type of person who, walking down the street, purposefully passes by an innocent man who is getting beaten by three thugs. You do nothing for that man. I, on the other hand, go to defend him.”
    Actually, for the record, I didn’t just walk by the innocent man, I gave him a kick in the groin and took his lunch money too. Do you honestly expect people to take you seriously when you write stuff like that?

  • Adam Whitehead

    “Feast was not promised, it was not announced until just prior to publication.”
    A FEAST FOR CROWS was announced in September 2001, four years and more before its publication.
    “It is not Dance and by George’s own admission, covers very little of the material that would have been in Dance.”
    AFFC covers some of the material that would have been in the original ADWD (v.1) but not a huge amount, and only then for certain charactes (Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Arya, possibly Sansa). However, the book was introduced to cover the period between ASoS and ADWD v1, so by necessity it doesn’t cover a lot of the material that would have originally been in ADWD v1. That now falls to ADWD v3 (the to-be-published one).
    “How do you know Dance will be longer than Storm?”
    We don’t know that DANCE will be longer than STORM but we know it will be longer than AFFC or AGoT, from GRRM’s own comments. His original plan was to make the book the same size as CLASH but it has now ‘gotten longer’, putting it between there and STORM in size.
    “Wait a second here, the original Dragons was FLAWED somehow? Whoever said THAT? Because I know George didn’t.”
    GRRM has said repeatedly that work on the original ADWD (v1) was constantly interrupted by the need for lengthy flashbacks to the events that happened after ASoS, and he came to the realisation that it was impossible to skip those events. If he had tried to continue writing ADWD (v1) in that vein, the book would likely have become unpublishably large as it tried to both cover the events of the five-year gap and push forward its own story at the same time. If that isn’t a flaw, I’m not sure what is.
    “George said at the time and since, that he used less than half of what he had written for Dance in the publication of Feast.”
    No material from the original ADWD (v1) was used in AFFC. You are confusing the decision to dump ADWD (v1) in September 2001 and write AFFC instead with the decision to split AFFC in May 2005. These are two separate events.
    “And he burned nothing, threw out nothing. He never states that, he uses the term, ‘rework’ pages and chapters. So it’s not like he was starting from scratch all over again.”
    GRRM did not use any material at all from the post-five-year-gap version of ADWD in either AFFC or the new version of ADWD. He started from scratch again. He said this at the time and reiterated it again after. Even chapters covering similar events had to be totally reworked to take into account the younger ages of the characters and the different events in the timeline.
    “And I have no ideas if the series as a whole would be better off or not, had the original Dance format been published. And neither do you.”
    Maybe it could have been made to work, but I seriously doubt it.
    “And no, I clearly don’t agree with any of your assumptions, so I don’t agree that George is writing a book every 3 years. That sort of twisted math is straight out of the Bush administration’s spin department.”
    This is always a funny comment. GRRM is writing a book every 3-4 years (so far; ADWD will pass that point in a few months). He is not – clearly – publishing a new book every five years. People ignorant of how writing and publishing work find these two statements contradictory when they are not.
    “Do not refer to Feast as enormous. It’s nowhere near the size or scope of it’s predecessors. And you have no idea how big Dance is, now do you? Again, you assume.”
    This is just rubbish. AFFC has the same word-count and MS page-count as AGoT. Due to the slightly larger font used, it is actually considerably larger than AGoT in hardcover and paperback (to the tune of almost 200 pages, with the latter). We know GRRM intended DANCE to be about 1300 pages in manuscript, which is the same length as ACoK, but it is now longer than that. We don’t know how much longer yet.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Zono: Yup, you are right. You are kicking an innocent man in the groin. Well done. And that’s why I am there to aid him.
    Adam: Nicely argued. But the facts of the matter what change their minds. They want to be angry just to be angry and embrace and spread erroneous information to fuel that anger.

  • Hannibal Rex

    Maybe I’m an atypical fan, but I’m not angry in the least, and I haven’t one iota of doubt about Martin’s integrity or dedication to the series. What I no longer have, however, is faith that he can see the series through to a satisfying conclusion. I still have hope, but not faith.
    There are some aspects that you don’t touch upon in your article. Regarding the strucure of the plot, let’s look at Martin’s original trilogy conception. While it has taken him much more time and pages than he originally anticipated, the original structural conception of a trilogy remained in place, at least until Feast. There was always going to be at least one multi-year gap, between the first and second parts of this trilogy, and looking at the age most characters started out at, possibly another such gap between the second and third parts was planned.
    As the story grew, however, Instead of one book in which the main protagonists were teenagers or pre-teens, we got three, and the cutoff point for the third book made it impossible to implement the gap as intended.
    So, even if there had been this gap, extrapolating from the pages required so far leaves us with at least nine books, if the scope of the tale were to remain true to the original conception. However, as of now Martin still seems to try to fit this tale that has grown beyond all his expectations into no more than seven books total.
    Maybe as an editor, you can shed some (speculative) light on this question: To what extent, if any, could the ongoing internal editorial struggle, delay and backtracking be related to the problem of trying to fit too much plot into too few pages? What keeps George from expanding the series?
    Broadly speaking, the sense you get from the first three books is that all the intrigue and the civil war would pale in comparison to the near-apocalyptic invasion of the Others. Now, maybe that’s a wrong assumption, but if it isn’t, I just can see how this epic struggle, and all the rest of the remaining story, can be made to fit into just two (or three, if it already begins in Dance) books, without becoming either rushed or anti-climatic, or both. And if the threat of the Others turns out to have been just on huge red herring from the beginning, well, then this series never was what I expected of it, and further discussion is moot.
    When I finished A Storm of Swords, I had my doubts that the (then planned) five year gap was possible, as too many plotlines were left dangling. So, when Feast was announced to bridge it the gap in its entirety, in a kind of training montage, I was a bit relieved. However, scrapping the five year intermission period completely, as happened some time after, appears to me as the point where the story got compromised, and maybe irredeemably so. Now, all the characters who were supposed to be at least young adults for the main events remain children or inexperienced. I can’t see how they’re supposed to fit their intended roles as such.
    And looking at Feast itself, it becomes clear that Martin has gone off track. While the quality of the writing remains high, but the structure and pacing of the story has suffered immensely. While I agree that we needed POVs in Dorne and the Iron Islands, one each would have been more than enough. And too many pages are taken up with meandering accounts of new or secondary characters, without much of significane happening in them. Contrast that to the beginning of the series, where Martin was unafraid to have huge events take place off-screen, if none of his POV characters happened to be in attendance.
    George has lost control of the series in Feast, and I think (I hope) he knows that. A Dance of Dragons will be the book that makes or breaks the series. If he can get back on track, there’s nothing to stop A Song of Ice and Fire from becoming the best fantasy series of modern times. If he can’t, however, it might just as well collapse under its own weight, becoming nothing but a sad cautionary tale for future generations of writers.

  • july_girl

    Three years, six years…that’s nothing. Could be like Melanie Rawn’s Exiles series; been waiting on the third book in it since 1997! As long as the book is good, the wait is worth it, πŸ™‚

  • Shawn Speakman

    July Girl: Yeah, very true. With Melanie I’m really worried. It’s been a long time since she wrote in that series and the third book may feel completely different than the previous two. I know she asked her fans to help her out with aspects of Exiles she might have forgotten, so that’s great. I just hope Captal’s lives up to the expectations that have grown over the last 12 years!
    At least with George, we know he’s been writing in the series continuously. And when Dragons is released we’ll see if he’s lost the magic from the previous books or not. From what I can tell in the excerpts, his writing is as solid as ever. The story though… we’ll see if the story lives up to expectations.

  • nickolai

    I just think he has lost his edge – FFC is just now the same earth shattering work we are accustomed to. Also the exponential jump in storyline interactions and possible outcomes may be more than anyone could manage without total preplanning. I don’t expect the series to ever be finished, sadly.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Nickolai: Even though it has taken him three years to write every single book thus far, you think he isn’t going to finish? That’s fear talking, not factual reality, my friend.

  • Cigar16

    I am glad I stumbled upon this site. Very nice. And Shawn, very nice, thorough article. I think most ASoIaF fans appreciated the breakdown of it completely as we all have had all of those thoughts of either being understanding with George and his task or PO’ed anger with him to just get on with it!
    I have gotten over it. I don’t bother to “check and see” anymore as to a release for the next installment. When it comes, great.
    I have only 2 concerns. The first being that the wait actually hampers me in the sense that when Dance finally does come out I will have to reread the whole series to refresh. The desire to just go straight to the new book will be hard to resist! And considering his track record, and the fact that personally I think he always looks unhealthy is he going to finish the series? Scary thought for a fantasy reader who loves to indulge in them and looks forward to the continuation or ending of a great story.
    Sorry such a long post but one more thing. Question…..Has a novel series ever been picked up, sold, finished, etc. by an author other than the origonal creator? Thanks.
    -Cigar16

  • SecretSquirrel

    I just burned through all his Ice an Fire books in the last month. I was surprised he was so late in getting the next one out. I get the feeling that he is kind of in a funny place from where he writes, and that figurines and games may just be a natural part of his creative cycle. There are definitely parts of writers personalities that readers don’t need to know about. I’m not sure they got that choice, but that is the way it goes.
    A lot of other A-list writers like Goodkind and Jordan seemed to hit the school zone too with their writing when they got popular. Maybe a new gear got put into the process or professional cycle by the industry that is making it happen this way. On the other hand, it could be looked at that his books are so big, you get a lot of value for the time invested waiting. He does seem to have slowed down, and is doing the huge amount of characters thing like Jordan started to do: where in one 800 page book, he only advanced the plot a couple of days.
    I like what Martin has done. His stories have a real edge to them and his descriptions are top notch. It seems like his characters seem to do the wrong thing too often, but that is my only complaint. It is definitely a different way of looking at fantasy than what we are usually presented with. Tanith Lee, Leiber, and Hambly have been there before, but never with such rugged detail. He has pulled out a lot of little techniques that he uses well, from Herbert and others, and it’s a presentation of themes and details not often attempted.
    The new book will probably be out soon, and then we will have to see where he goes from there, and what thoughts the industry has in response to the wait. These people seem to get a real kid-gloving through all this. It would be interesting to know what they are actually saying, instead of just a bunch of hints and vague, third-person observations.

  • SecretSquirrel

    I just burned through all his Ice an Fire books in the last month. I was surprised he was so late in getting the next one out. I get the feeling that he is kind of in a funny place from where he writes, and that figurines and games may just be a natural part of his creative cycle. There are definitely parts of writers personalities that readers don’t need to know about. I’m not sure they got that choice, but that is the way it goes.
    A lot of other A-list writers like Goodkind and Jordan seemed to hit the school zone too with their writing when they got popular. Maybe a new gear got put into the process or professional cycle by the industry that is making it happen this way. On the other hand, it could be looked at that his books are so big, you get a lot of value for the time invested waiting. He does seem to have slowed down, and is doing the huge amount of characters thing like Jordan started to do: where in one 800 page book, he only advanced the plot a couple of days.
    I like what Martin has done. His stories have a real edge to them and his descriptions are top notch. It seems like his characters seem to do the wrong thing too often, but that is my only complaint. It is definitely a different way of looking at fantasy than what we are usually presented with. Tanith Lee, Leiber, and Hambly have been there before, but never with such rugged detail. He has pulled out a lot of little techniques that he uses well, from Herbert and others, and it’s a presentation of themes and details not often attempted.
    The new book will probably be out soon, and then we will have to see where he goes from there, and what thoughts the industry has in response to the wait. These people seem to get a real kid-gloving through all this. It would be interesting to know what they are actually saying, instead of just a bunch of hints and vague, third-person observations.

  • nanachan707

    I’m a relatively new reader of ASOIAF – I’m currently reading the first part of “a storm of swords” – and maybe that’s the reason I feel no immediate urgency towards the publication of the fifth book of the series. however, GRRM’s is not the first series I read and of course not the first time I have to wait for a book to be published. judging by the length and quality of the previous ASOIF novels I’m not surprised it takes GRRM more than the average time to complete his works – this is not a 200 page light-read we’re talking about. on my part I’d sooner support GRRM no matter how long it takes him to finish “dance” than showering him with discouraging complaints that will get us fans nowhere.
    so, yes, I’m also of the opinion that we should let the man be.

  • morbiczer

    “What is to come with A Dance With Dragons? I bet it will be published in early 2010.”
    Well, that bet was lost. πŸ™‚

  • True enough. But I didn’t know George would be leaving for his pilot shoot for almost two months either. πŸ™‚
    It will be published this year, I have no doubt.

  • Anthony

    I appreciate your point of view and your efforts to be fair. We may disagree on “the math”, but I will defer to your understanding of the writing process and the publishing industry. I have one great concern in your article, and it truly is my main issue with Mr. Martin. You state, “The simple truth is: If you are unhappy with George, choose not to buy his books.
    That is your right as a consumer just as it is his right to choose whether to write or not.”
    I could not disagree more. It is my right to not buy any of his books, true. When someone imagines a story in their mind, it is theirs to do with what they want. However, when they decide to publish, they are telling me, the consumer, “I have a story to tell, let me invite you into this world”. Once you do that, you have a contract with me. A movie cannot end 10 minutes before the conclusion, A song cannot truncate mid-sentence, and American Idol cannot end without a winner. I willingly entered ASOIAF at George’s invitation. He and I have a contract. I have invested far more than a few dollars for the books, so don’t offer me a refund. There are thousands of books out there that I will die before I get to read. I chose George when he invited me into his world, and now that investment is being wasted. I am angry because I believe that George believes that “he owes me nothing”. I disagree and that is the source of my anger. You invite me to hear your story, you owe me the story.

  • Swan

    Shawn,
    I found this article after doing a search under “What’s wrong with George R. R. Martin”. I got tired of checking his web page for updates on Fire & Ice and seeing the same Jan 2008 update. Though GRRM did specifically state that would be the last update until the book was ready, I always held out hope that he would back off that statement. Though I’m late into this frey, I want to offer my most sincere gratitude for such a fine article. Not only did you go into extreme detail, but it was presented in the most logical and intelligent manner. I do appreciate your efforts. My respect is renewed. I am now far less irritated with the arrival of ADWD and will show my appreciation to GRRM by immediately reading his latest addition to the Fire & Ice saga.
    I know he has his reasons for doing what he does. I may not always like them, but that is surely his own business.
    Many thanks.

  • Swan

    Shawn,
    I found this article after doing a search under “What’s wrong with George R. R. Martin”. I got tired of checking his web page for updates on Fire & Ice and seeing the same Jan 2008 update. Though GRRM did specifically state that would be the last update until the book was ready, I always held out hope that he would back off that statement. Though I’m late into this frey, I want to offer my most sincere gratitude for such a fine article. Not only did you go into extreme detail, but it was presented in the most logical and intelligent manner. I do appreciate your efforts. My respect is renewed. I am now far less irritated with the arrival of ADWD and will show my appreciation to GRRM by immediately reading his latest addition to the Fire & Ice saga.
    I know he has his reasons for doing what he does. I may not always like them, but that is surely his own business.
    Many thanks.

  • Swan

    Shawn,
    I found this article after doing a search under “What’s wrong with George R. R. Martin”. I got tired of checking his web page for updates on Fire & Ice and seeing the same Jan 2008 update. Though GRRM did specifically state that would be the last update until the book was ready, I always held out hope that he would back off that statement. Though I’m late into this frey, I want to offer my most sincere gratitude for such a fine article. Not only did you go into extreme detail, but it was presented in the most logical and intelligent manner. I do appreciate your efforts. My respect is renewed. I am now far less irritated with the arrival of ADWD and will show my appreciation to GRRM by immediately reading his latest addition to the Fire & Ice saga.
    I know he has his reasons for doing what he does. I may not always like them, but that is surely his own business.
    Many thanks.

  • Dakkon

    Well what i think.. well first of all, i think im numbe 1 fan of martin, just like almust everione in this place.. not anger just.. well anger, and we have the right to be anger.. guy told everione in 2005 he had half of the book done, then 2010 and nothing cames..
    The thing must of you dont know, and you would know if you play atention just for 1 year, is that martin is not working in the book.. he does everithing else..
    He is even going to give classes?? about being a whriter???
    Came on.. love you martin, grate author, my favorite 1, but serious.. you are not even trying..
    And you Shawn Speakman, are you joking us?? what about in the defense of all of us fans, that have been taking this for years??
    How many more years will you defend him???
    will you defend him, if he keeps doing this for more 5 years???
    problems is that instead of all of us, tel him, stop avoiding the book and do some work (things dont happen by magic, unless your name is danny, i mean)
    But no you guys keep defending the man, and sayng “god work martin, how you just stop the book again to type about nfl for more 5 years?? you want to go and make a class about action figures?? go 1 martin, we will suport you.. we love you no matter what..”
    Just stop it for god sake.. it is just like bad parents..
    And yeah almust forgot.. but the no anger man (Shawn Speakman) is allways anger when people say: “MARTIN IS ENOUTH”..
    You my friend, can well be Great on you job, but you give a bad image for yourself…

  • Dakkon: As usual, you are letting emotion rule your thoughts and not looking at the facts logically.
    This is the main problem I have with Martin decriers.
    You say one thing: Martin posts about the NFL, he posts about tons of different things. In your opinion, you think he should be working on the book instead of writing those posts.
    That seems like a valid argument.
    The problem with that argument is one I firmly denounced in the article. Writers don’t write every minute of their waking lives. They can’t. Writing doesn’t work that way. On average, from my own experiences of talking to dozens and dozens of writers, most authors can’t write more than six hours a day. Six. After six hours their minds go to mush and no writing they do holds up in revision. They know this so they stop writing, to recharge the batteries for the next day.
    Six hours, Dakkon. Six. How many hours are you awake a day? 16? 17? For argument sake we’ll say George sleeps for 8 hours. That leaves 16 hours of his awake time. What does 16 – 6 = ?
    10 hours. 10. That’s time when George cannot write because he has written for that day and can no longer write good solid dialog, prose, etc. 10 hours. Those 10 hours he spends catching up on email, showering, shaving (Ha!), breakfast, lunch, and dinner, posting about the NFL, posting about his other projects, doing his editing projects, talking to Parris, whatever else he does, etc.
    Those 10 hours can’t be used for Dance. His writing mind is mush for that period, until the next day. You seem to think he should be able to write during those 10 hours. This is because you obviously don’t know what it is like to be a writer and you have no understanding of what a writer goes through. Beyond just telling you that he can’t write during that period, I’m also telling you wouldn’t want him to write during that time because the end result would be terrible writing.
    Ignorance unfortunately drives most of the Martin decriers.
    Ignorance in how the process of writing a book works.
    That’s the main reason I wrote my article above, to share some of those realities with people who simply don’t know otherwise and who use their ignorance in the most unrealistic way.
    Dakkon, I hope you look at George posting on his blog differently now.
    If you don’t, then you don’t care about the truth of the matter and that’s a sad thing.

  • scorpiknox

    Speakman, you are a crazy person. Your wild, fantastical and, above all, imaginary insights into the minds of people you don’t know is actually disturbing.
    You haven’t even finished reading the series, therefore you are not even waiting for Dance. You are not an expert on the matter, so stop acting like one.
    I read the first book in 1996 and I have been waiting 10 long years for ADwD. If GRRM had come right out and said he was having problems writing, or that he had lost his passion for the series, I would have been disappointed, but I would have accepted it. Instead, he chose to keep mum and peddle miniatures for the last 4.5 years, after he delivered half a book called A Feast for Crows.
    His recent change of heart and humor regarding Dance updates does not make up for what I perceive as 5 years of disrespect to those who don’t think that kissing his ass is fun. The censorship on NaB is a one-way street that allows for a culture of bootlickers to massage the man’s ego and bad-mouth anyone who, god forbid, has a dissenting opinion on how a professional author should handle his obligations. The “take as long as you want” crowd should be ashamed at the part they have had to play in all of this. How many new fantasy fans out there are going to be forever turned off to the genre because they were duped into starting a series that might never be finished?
    The whole GRRM is not you bitch argument is irrelevant. GRRM is not my bitch, but he is a representative of a genre that already gets little to no respect from the literary community at large. When big names act like little children, it looks bad. The past 5 years of sulking about detractors, extensive (excessive) travelling, and peddling merchandise that one tenth of one percent of his fans are interested in adds up.
    The recent HBO news has, perhaps, re-kindled his interest in the series, and for that I am glad. I would love to see the series finished at some point, and I would count GRRM as one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time if it finished with the quality he established in the first 3.5 books. However, I doubt that this will happen. I suspect Dance will be the last book published. I hope I am wrong.
    Let me ask you, do you think that your staunch defense of GRRM will somehow get you closer to him? Do you think he’s going to call you up and say thanks? Or has he already? I know you are an aspiring writer, and I can respect that. What I cannot respect is how you go about justifying someone’s mishandling of his relationship with his fans by blaming it all on the fans in the hopes of getting a book deal.

  • Scorpion:
    “You haven’t even finished reading the series, therefore you are not even waiting for Dance. You are not an expert on the matter, so stop acting like one.”
    Did you ever stop to consider that since I have not read the last two books that I am just maybe unbiased in forming my opinions? I’d say I am more qualified to look at this from all angles than, say, a fan who is disgruntled as they pantingly wait for the next book. Those people who are waiting are emotional about it. I’m not.
    “Instead, he chose to keep mum and peddle miniatures for the last 4.5 years, after he delivered half a book called A Feast for Crows.”
    A half book? How so? Is Feast 1/2 shorter than his other books? No, it isn’t. To tell the story of the entire series, it will take X amount of words. Feast is part of that X, and it is a full book even if it doesn’t have all of the characters. Once Dance is published, this argument that people use ‘we’ve been waiting 10 years for a book’ will be nonsensical. And, as we already know, Dance is now the second largest book in the series. It takes time to write large books, a fact you seem to completely disregard.
    Either way, let’s say for argument that once Dance is finished that someone takes the chapters from Feast and Dance and puts them into one book. That book will be enormous. Quite unbindable in a physical book. Therefore, that tale would be split in half, creating two normal books. It will have taken George 8 1/2 years to write those two books, 4+ years a piece on average.
    Not 10 years to complete a book. 8 1/2 years to complete two books.
    I have a feeling if George hadn’t split the books the way he did, most of the angry people out there wouldn’t have had as much a problem.
    “The censorship on NaB is a one-way street that allows for a culture of bootlickers to massage the man’s ego and bad-mouth anyone who, god forbid, has a dissenting opinion on how a professional author should handle his obligations.”
    That’s his choice. It’s his blog. If people cross a line into ill civility, which they do all of the time due to the anonymity the internet affords them, they must be held accountable. YOU as the reader, if you don’t like it, can hold George accountable by not buying his books. This is how it works.
    “How many new fantasy fans out there are going to be forever turned off to the genre because they were duped into starting a series that might never be finished?”
    As I’ve said elsewhere, that is their choice to start a series that isn’t finished. Readers need to take responsibility for their actions in this as well. I do every year. Why haven’t I read Storm? I choose not to. If George doesn’t finish the series or gets hit by a bus tomorrow, I’m only out two books of reading time and money.
    And as for not being finished, is George not working on the series? Of course he is! He is over 1300 manuscript pages now. That doesn’t just happen, ya know?
    “The past 5 years of sulking about detractors, extensive (excessive) travelling, and peddling merchandise that one tenth of one percent of his fans are interested in adds up.”
    I find it amusing you laugh at my writing knowledge and how I can get inside the mind of someone I actually know and have talked to about this, and yet you know a mathematical percentage that you have no ability to formulate? The hypocrisy is astounding.
    But besides that, a publisher doesn’t publish a book if it won’t sell. The other things he does are being done because there is a buying populace ready to consume. Your math doesn’t add up, from a business point of view at least.
    “The recent HBO news has, perhaps, re-kindled his interest in the series, and for that I am glad. I would love to see the series finished at some point, and I would count GRRM as one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time if it finished with the quality he established in the first 3.5 books. However, I doubt that this will happen. I suspect Dance will be the last book published. I hope I am wrong.”
    If you look at the series, it takes George 3 – 3 1/2 years to write a book in the series. Feast was right on schedule once he figured out not to accelerate the future of the storyline.
    Dance is for sure late according to that schedule, BUT it is also the most important book in the series as it is the setup to the end. You can choose to ignore that fact, but it is what it is. From a writer’s perspective — a perspective most people don’t appreciate and the reason behind me being so vocal — I choose not to feel that way.
    “Let me ask you, do you think that your staunch defense of GRRM will somehow get you closer to him?”
    This comment and those that follow made me laugh. I already have access to George. I defended the man long before being hired by Random House, before I knew him in fact, and now that I know him and know a bit more about his process, it just solidifies my feelings on the topic.
    Perhaps you should give a bit more credence to my insider knowledge.
    “Do you think he’s going to call you up and say thanks?”
    Nope, don’t think he will. I doubt he even knows about this article. That’s not what this is about.
    “Or has he already?”
    Nope, he hasn’t.
    “What I cannot respect is how you go about justifying someone’s mishandling of his relationship with his fans by blaming it all on the fans in the hopes of getting a book deal.”
    I don’t blame it on the fans. Hardly. If that’s what you think, then you missed the entire point of my article. I blame it on ignorance. Those people who learn the facts, for the most part, have a change of heart about their emotions. It’s the reason I wrote this article and the reason why I still talk about it from time to time. Ignorance is a killer. Ignorance like Dakkon just posted above — who thinks an author can productively write for 14 hours a day and have the quality not go down? It doesn’t work that way. Many people like yourself don’t think about these things; they don’t even have a clue what it takes to write a book, let alone a series to the quality of Ice & Fire.
    Ignorance and emotion. A bad mix.
    And as I am neither ignorant to the craft of writing or how George writes and, as I established up above, I’m unbiased when it comes to the series, it might benefit you to take a deep breath, incorporate what I am saying, and then ponder on all of this.
    The Neil Gaiman quote “George isn’t your bitch.” You know the one. Go back and read that Gaiman article. He talks about a lot more than just that. He’s a professional writer and he echoes almost everything I’ve said in my own article. Coincidence? Nope.
    Maybe there just is something to what I’m saying, eh?

  • scorpiknox

    First of all, thanks so much for getting my name right Steve.
    Also, thank you for taking time out your busy day banning people from the Terry Brooks forum for having a sense of humor and a backbone to respond to my post. I appreciate it.
    Where did you get the “8.5 years for 2 books” number? Last I checked ASoS was published in 2000. That is 10 years ago, with Dance not yet released. The creative math of Shawn Speakman rides again.
    The phrase “one tenth of one percent” was hyperbole and you know it, but of course you chose to look at it as an example of my astounding hypocrisy. To be fair, the actual number of people buying water-logged copies of Wild Cards (et al.) is probably less than my stated percentage* when you consider the number of ASoIaF fans there are worldwide. It’s cool though, you had to get a dig in about me being a hypocrite because it was easy. Fine. (*I cannot back up these claims, I admit it. But I feel like I am being more than generous here, much like you are with your numbers. See, we aren’t so different, you and I.)
    Apparently I am ignorant. Almost as ignorant as a man who talks about A Feast for Crows who has never actually read a Feast for Crows, but instead cites page count as to why it is not half a book. Spoiler Alert: None of the characters we actually care about are in Feast. Nothing much happens in Feast. It is just one cliff-hanger after another. It is half a book, by GRRMs own admission. He split Dance, with Feast being only one — wait for it — HALF. End Spoiler Alert.
    Not only am I ignorant, but I am emotional as well. Since you seem to be in love with counting pages, why don’t we do a bit of research and count the number of forum pages across the interwebs that you’ve authored defending GRRM like he was your little sister? If anyone is emotional about a topic that he really has no business being emotional about, it is you. I want you to know, and I am being very honest here, that the only reason I post about GRRM is because of GRRiMlins like you who vomit bullshit onto forums across the community, excusing his unprofessionalism and laziness. The only emotion I feel during this little discourse is amusement tinged with disdain.
    When you are under a deadline for your job, do you go on 2-3 vacations a year? I wish I could but, unfortunately, I’d be fired from my job if I tried to get away with that. Luckily the topic has never come up, probably because I am an adult and I take my professional obligations to my superiors and to my clients seriously.
    This little bit here caught my attention:
    “This comment and those that follow made me laugh. I already have access to George. I defended the man long before being hired by Random House, before I knew him in fact, and now that I know him and know a bit more about his process, it just solidifies my feelings on the topic.”
    So you get paid by Random house to Defend George RR Martin? I always thought prostitution was illegal. Oh, wait, you must live in Nevada. This has me thinking that maybe I could get a job from a competing publisher to talk smack about him. Could be worth looking into.
    OK, OK, all jokes aside, you’ve met him. Fine. You know about his process. Fine. This only backs up my theory that you think you might get something out of this. Either that or you’re star-struck by his “greatness”, which I can see being the case, since you have followed him in the great tradition of naming books that you haven’t even written yet. Talk about fantasy.
    Enough about you. Let’s talk about George. I have never sent him a personal email. Well, that is not true, I did send him one back in 2002 telling him that he was awesome and that I loved his work. My point is I am not a direct critic: I know me emailing him to “FTBG” will do nothing except anger him. I don’t want to contribute to his petulance, thus punishing myself by proxy by adding to the delay.
    In 2005, GRRM released Feast, stating that Dance was not far behind, as it was more than half way done. He was wrong. I’ll type slow so you don’t miss it this time:
    THAT IS OK!
    It is fine for GRRM to be wrong about these things. Getting it right takes time, and I totally accept that. Since you managed to ignore this in my previous post, I will restate it: I am not angry with GRRM for the delay. I am angry about how he handled the delay and how he treated his fans.
    Imagine the cable-guy comes to your house so you can watch your favorite channel starring your favorite actor. Everything is fine for a while. You are enjoying your show, new episodes (updates) come out every once in a while, and you’re OK with this. Then, out of the blue, you find that the only channels you get are the Home Shopping Network, the Travel Channel, and the NFL network. Now I don’t mind the NFL network so much, but somehow the Travel Channel managed to get my favorite actor to quit my favorite show and got him to star in a new show called “I Hate Flying But I Do It Anyway, Like 7 Times a Year, and Oh Yeah, I Cannot Write on the Road.” (In case you haven’t seen it, it is on right after “Man vs. Food” and “No Reservations.” There was no warning about the sudden program adjustment, just some grumpy talk about the critics.
    What GRRM did was lump those people who were sending demanding emails in with the fans who just want to know what was going on. If he’d have just come out and said that things weren’t going as well as he’d hoped and he needed some time away from the series to get it right, I would have accepted it. I said as much in the previous post, but, big shock, you ignored that. This was the beginning of the end of my fandom. All of the constant distractions and general disregard for those fans who chose not to post sycophancy on the NaB only served to fan the flames. The icing on my cake-of-hate is the people like you who refuse to acknowledge that he has behaved poorly these last five years and instead choose to defend a petulant, spoiled, unprofessional man.
    Only time will tell if the series ever gets finished. Once again, I hope it does. GRRM may not publish Dance until the end of the year (if we are lucky), but I do agree that the next books will probably be easier for him to write as Dance does seem to present to most challenging time-line issues.
    p.s. When you respond to this, try to avoid doing the line by line quote-response tactic. I know what I wrote, so you don’t need to remind me. Also, it lets people who may be reading this get away with not reading the previous posts, which is a cop-out. It also makes your response look much larger than it actually is and since you’re so concerned with page/word count, I figure that is cheating. Before you say it, yes I know I quoted you once in this post. The keyword here is “once”.

  • Scorp: I apologize for getting your name wrong. I took a quick look at it to get to the meat of your post.
    But I will quote when I like. There are other people here and it becomes messy if people don’t know who I am responding to. Simple. Others do this as well, I might point out.
    1) I didn’t ban anyone from Terry’s website. I placed someone on moderation, someone who broke two rules. If you actually think rule breaking is fine, then we are never going to agree on how George “treats” his fans. If people are openly disrespectful, they have no place on such blogs/forums. I highly doubt George banned people from his blog who asked or said things civilly. What you are saying, to me, just doesn’t hold up.
    No, the vast majority of people banned there needed to be banned. Knowing the internet the way I do, I have no doubt.
    2) It is two books in 8 1/2 years. Dance was originally started in 2000 and after 1 1/2 years was thrown away, George deciding the path of pushing the series years into the future to age the kids was the wrong way to go. That’s 1 1/2 years of work gone that did not and will not end up in the series because he found it to be detrimental to the series that you obviously love. He wanted to see it done right.
    Don’t you?
    Feast as you know it only took 3 1/2 years to write. Get your math and facts straight, please.
    And beyond that point, you will be getting more than simply the opposite storyline of Feast in Dance. George has written hundreds of more manuscript pages that take the story beyond the time frame of Feast and Dance. So even though you have been waiting a long time for the entire “complete book” to be given to you, you will be getting more than just a complete book when Dance is published.
    Isn’t that awesome? That he wants to complete a few of those cliffhangers you hated to make you, the reader, happy?
    He sounds like a monster to me.
    3) We do agree on one thing. I understand fully why you are angry. You should be. George being unable to follow through on his own deadlines is a terrible mismanagement of his own prowess as a writer. I even say that in my article. The unprofessionalism is astounding. It hurts the genre as a whole, no doubt about it. I state that clearly too.
    Or did you conveniently forget that I had done that?
    The problem I have is people assuming things by how he blogs, or what he blogs, or people who think they know how long he should take to write a book based on publishing dates of prior books — the dates of writing the manuscripts wildly different than the publishing dates. These are things people are simply ignorant about. It’s that simple. Ignorance simply means someone “lacking knowledge.” They don’t have the knowledge, believing their corrupt knowledge to be true.
    I am sharing my “insider” knowledge of George and the craft of writing as a whole because it openly refutes many of the points many detractors use against him.
    You hate that I stand up for what is right? What is factual? What is truth? I wouldn’t be who I am if I let such misconceptions or downright lies flourish, no matter who the writer is. Look at Terry. Often trolls come onto his site and criticize him for “copying LOTR.” If you look at the two books though and analyze them, they are only similar plot point by plot point for the first 1/3 of Sword. The rest is completely different from Tolkien’s work. Oddly enough, that spot is the same spot when Terry took 2 years off from writing it. When he came back, he was changed as a storyteller. I share that information because it is the right thing to do. Hell, Terry would probably hate my assessment of the two books, looking at the plot points.
    I still speak my mind though. I’m the first to admit things if they are indeed true and founded in fact.
    The points I use here are grounded in fact. I’m unbiased in that way. Most of the angry, annoyed fans don’t know those facts.
    That’s why I wrote what I wrote.
    It is what it is.

  • scorpiknox

    OK, we are never going to end this, so I will address a few points and vanish into the night.
    Apparently there was a temporal anomaly during the year and a half that George had to scrap all that he had written, because that time doesn’t count as time spent waiting. And all this while I thought I was waiting, but I guess I wasn’t. Seriously, you said you were a fantasy writer, not science fiction. What scares me is that you believe the things you write. Yikes.
    Unimportant semantics about timeline aside, we seem to be arguing about two different things. I don’t presume to know what GRRM does with his time, but I do presume to know how he represents his time, and that, to be sure, is what all the fuss is about. You say that we have a right to be mad, but then you try to tell us why we should be mad. That is weird.
    On the subject of standing up for what is right: The original article you wrote here annoys many of us because it is based mostly on conjecture and assumptions, mixed in with vague assurances of credibility. You use very fuzzy math and fairy-tale insights into the minds of others to justify your points. In the end, you come off like a bullshit artist with an over-inflated sense of self-importance. How can you not see that? This isn’t some grand crusade for the truth Shawn, it’s just you grandstanding about your version of the truth.
    With regards to NaB, we have different ideas of what is and is not a bannable offense. Your interpretation of forum rules would no doubt vary wildly from mine. But please, make no mistake that in NaB’s darker days people were getting banned for simply asking about Dance. These weren’t rude posts, but simple queries written by GRRM noobs who didn’t know any better. And heaven forbid if you display ignorance regarding something IaF related. You’ll be shouted down by the chorus of resident toadies before you can say the phrase “nipple tweak”. I realize that NaB is a private site, and GRRM and his assistant Ty can do as they please. This does nothing to ameliorate the feelings of resentment many fans harbor as a result of such behavior.
    Lately there has been a lighter mood about the place, no doubt due to impending completion of ADwD. The serious detractors don’t begrudge GRRM the wait, we resent the attitude. He has acted like a class-A dick for quite some time. I suspect he knows it, considering the recent change of tune. Too little too late for me.
    AAAAAnyway, I think I am done here. You’ve managed to not address why you feel qualified to talk about Feast being a “whole” book when you haven’t read it. You’ve managed to completely gloss over the man’s crap attitude towards non-GRRiMlins for the past 3 (at least) years. You’ve managed to consistently FAIL at math. (Seriously dude, who are you kidding with that 1.5 years not counting as time waiting crap? I’ll tell you: No one.) You’ve managed to twist my words to fit your meager arguments, because we all know how much I hate cliff-hangers, which is something I totally said (need a sarcasm font here). And, somehow, you’ve managed not to laugh at any of my jokes (wtf?).
    But the bright side is, if you ever do get published, you’ve managed to secure at least one sale. I will buy your book so I can say I got into a nerd/interweb argument with the guy who wrote it about another guy who wrote some other books that I have also read. I am warning you though, you’d better finish the series in a timely manner, or I’ll blog angrily until I can blog no more. That’ll show you.

  • faso

    yea

  • Scorp:
    “Apparently there was a temporal anomaly during the year and a half that George had to scrap all that he had written, because that time doesn’t count as time spent waiting. And all this while I thought I was waiting, but I guess I wasn’t.”
    I go into this in depth in my article about the difference between freewriters and outliners. That 1 1/2 year is a side effect of you choosing to read a freewriter. That freewriter is giving you a great series to read because of how he writes, but freewriting is a double-edged sword that George has no control over. If you are going to accept the good, then you have to accept the bad, my friend.
    Sad, but true.
    Still, the 1 1/2 year extra you had to wait is an anomaly. It was a pivotal moment in the series that had be resolved to his satisfaction. Now that it has, there shouldn’t be a time period like that again where he has to destroy a full 1 1/2 year’s worth of work.
    I say be happy he is writing the series to his satisfaction. If he had continued down his original path, he would have hated it and it would have shown in his work.
    Time well spent waiting, in my opinion.
    “I don’t presume to know what GRRM does with his time, but I do presume to know how he represents his time, and that, to be sure, is what all the fuss is about.”
    This is exactly right. Hence my article. I’m trying to show people what writers do with the additional time they are not writing, time they can’t write because the product isn’t any good. All writers experience that time, and all writers use it to answer email, blog, market, publicize, etc. But for some reason, George is not allowed that time that, to be honest, couldn’t be spent writing the book anyway because it would be crap writing.
    Yet you choose to make comments like this:
    “This isn’t some grand crusade for the truth Shawn, it’s just you grandstanding about your version of the truth.”
    Why can’t you see that my “version of the truth” is grounded in the actual craft of writing and is echoed by other authors out there? If I am saying something, and they are saying something, doesn’t that kind of lend weight to what I am saying, to what George is doing? Logically, it should. For some reason though, you and others out there don’t care about that. Even though I write for a living, I’m fine with you saying I don’t have credibility since I’ve not published a novel, but why do you choose to ignore the other authors out there who have published novels, people who have lived the life, who write for a living, and yet echo everything I’ve said when it comes to how an author spends his/her time writing and blogging?
    To me, it makes no sense. Because out of all of us writers, there are certain truths we all know about:
    One, we can only write for a certain amount of time each day before the words that are entered into the keyboard suck. Two, it is at that time we move our energies elsewhere, to email and blogging and marketing and publicity and family and friends.
    These aren’t vagaries of perception or assumption, Scorp, as you seem to think they are. These are realities for every writer out there.
    George included.
    Yet, you choose to ignore them.
    I can’t fathom that.
    And if you still don’t believe me, I’ll send out an interview to the dozens of authors I know and ask them those two points. If they come back answered as I know they will, will you concede my point about his blogging time and help spread the word to other decriers out there and share links to your changed argument? At that point, won’t it be a truth you can share?
    “This does nothing to ameliorate the feelings of resentment many fans harbor as a result of such behavior.”
    I know exactly what you are saying. I have probably five or six people I’ve banned over the years on Terry’s site who harbor ill will toward me. One of them even took a picture of my own home’s front door, as if to illustrate they could kill me when they wanted. People are idiots and even more so online. I would tell those people to move on because I have, and I know for a fact at least two of them have returned to the Forum under new IPs and new names and have led productive forum experiences. They had to learn the hard way though. Perhaps George and Ty needed a learning curve; perhaps those fans needed a learning curve. I don’t know. Perhaps down the road, once Dance is out, that they will unban those people. I do have no doubt that a great many of those people said very rude things and deserved their punishment.
    “You’ve managed to not address why you feel qualified to talk about Feast being a “whole” book when you haven’t read it.”
    I responded to this last post. Everything you say about Feast not being a complete book I know because I’ve read so many people talking about the damn thing for so long. Honestly. I know how it is structured. I don’t need to read it to know that information.
    That said and as I said in my article, I’m a writer. When I look at series, I don’t see books. I see words. Words will complete the series, not books. In my opinion, for Feast not to be a complete book, it would have to be 1/2 the words it actually is. It’s relatively the same size in word count as Thrones. Is Thrones an incomplete book too? Of course not. So what’s the problem?
    The problem is the lack of Jon and Dany and Tyrion and others you love. That’s why you can call it an incomplete book.
    And in a way, it is.
    BUT if Jon, Dany, and Tyrion had been put into Feast, some of those Feast chapters would have been bumped to the next book. As would half of the Jon, Dany, and Tryion chapters you will read in Dance.
    In your opinion, would it have been a complete book if, at the same word count it is now, some of those chapters were pushed into Dance and replaced by Jon, Dany, and Tyrion chapters?
    I’m betting your answer is yes.
    If it is yes, then I’ll continue with where that logic takes us.
    “You’ve managed to completely gloss over the man’s crap attitude towards non-GRRiMlins for the past 3 (at least) years.”
    I’ve glossed over nothing. If you hate the man for how he looks, or breathes, or combs his hair, or whatever, I don’t care. I really don’t. Don’t buy his books. That’s your choice. I have no control over whether the man is a good man or a bad man to his fans. I haven’t witnessed the negative things you say he has done as I didn’t read the comments back then. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this topic since I have no frame of reference beyond how people treat him now and how he treats his fans now.
    And as for the buying or not buying of books, I’m being serious about that. I’ve met hundreds of writers in my life. Three of them completely rubbed me the wrong way in real life, asses of the highest order. I choose to never read their books. I won’t. Ever. Period. They don’t deserve my money.
    I am warning you though, you’d better finish the series in a timely manner, or I’ll blog angrily until I can blog no more. That’ll show you.”
    Even if I do get published, which is highly unlikely, you won’t have to ever wait. I write self-contained books. I’m also an outliner. I never write myself into a corner like George does. I could never write like him. To destroy months of work because I’ve suddenly discovered I’ve gone down the wrong path doesn’t fit with my OCD personality at all.
    To write the same book three or four times? I couldn’t do it. I just had to rewrite The Dark Thorn from a different point of view and it damn near killed me!
    The craft of writing that George employs and that makes him so beloved is the very craft of writing that makes people hate him.
    I simply could not live that way.
    I’ve enjoy this discussion, by the way. I just want you to know that I do understand your pain and your anger. I get it. The man treated you and/or others badly on his blog. Got it. He missed his own deadlines. Got it. In all sincerity, those are terrible things.
    And I think you have a right to be angry about them. Really angry.
    The other stuff though? Easily explained with facts backing it up. As I said in my article, I just want people to be angry at George for the right things. I don’t want them to be angry over inaccurate information or misunderstandings or ignorance about the craft of writing.
    That’s all.
    It sounds like a simple thing.
    It hasn’t been though, has it? πŸ™‚

  • No one cares about your unpublished fanfiction, Shawnie. So stop namedroping it.

  • yea

  • Richard: πŸ™‚

  • Mega Man

    “Even if I do get published, which is highly unlikely, you won’t have to ever wait. I write self-contained books”
    Why the sudden lack of confidence over getting The Dark Thorn Cycle actually published Shawn?
    I thought you had the first book (almost) complete. Any reason why you think it’s going to be unpublished? πŸ™ I was looking forward to seeing the rest of it, having read the prologue.

  • Shawn Speakman

    Mega: Since I don’t want to derail this discussion — especially since Richard Curtis might have an aneurysm and I don’t want to be held responsible for that — I’ll post your question and answer it in a new post.
    By the way, Richard Curtis, I was hired by Random House to blog and share about taking my book from its initial creative stages through the hardships of querying, rejection, and hopeful representation by an agent and later a publisher (if I get that far). That’s one of the things that I get paid to do. If that causes you some consternation, this might not be the place for you.

  • Mega: Since I don’t want to derail this discussion — especially since Richard Curtis might have an aneurysm and I don’t want to be held responsible for that — I’ll post your question and answer it in a new post.
    By the way, just so everyone knows, I was hired by Random House to blog about my experiences taking my book from its initial creative stages through the hardships of revision, querying, rejection, and/or hopeful representation by an agent and later a publisher (if I get that far). That’s one of the things that I get paid to do. I was asked to demystify the process. If that causes some people consternation, this might not be the place for them.

  • scorpiknox

    I promised myself I was done here, but…
    Do you actually lack a sense of humor or is it just Vulcan Immersion Week in your sci-fi method acting class?
    Me:
    “I am warning you though, you’d better finish the series in a timely manner, or I’ll blog angrily until I can blog no more. That’ll show you.”
    You:
    [insert super serious response here]
    So you only look at words?
    Word count for George Orwell’s 1984: 101,052
    Work count for a Feast for Crows: 300,000
    Are you suggesting that 1984 is only 1/3rd of a book? How many words make a book? What is the exact number, 8.5? You know as well as I do that a book is about its content, not its size. Your argument is thinner than a broken condom, my good man.
    GRRM is not the only major fantasy author guilty of this sin. Robert Jordan published several 1/2 books during the decline of the Wheel of Time series. Ooh, Egwyn tugged on her braid again, riveting! Why are so many in the fantasy community enamored with these huge tree-killing tomes with little inside but repetitive plot-points and needless exposition? Where the hell are all the editors?
    Most of your other points are big fat I-Don’t-Cares since you’ve finally agreed that 10 years is actually 10 years and not 8.5 years and that George has behaved poorly towards his fans. Your analysis of his writing process and how he spends his time is clearly based in fact, and who am I to dispute facts?
    One last question: Why do you care about the motivations for fan anger? What if I were angry at George because I don’t like captain’s hats? What is the difference to you?

  • Scorp:
    “Do you actually lack a sense of humor or is it just Vulcan Immersion Week in your sci-fi method acting class?
    Okay, you got a snort out of me there.
    Regardless of what you may think, sense of humor does not transmit well over cables. You could have been being serious, for all I know. And that’s how I took it.
    I’m not here to win a booby prize at a comedy club, after all.
    Your 1984 point is clever but moot in this case. 1984 is a complete story. As of right now, Ice & Fire is not. A Game of Thrones is 1/7 of an overall story. The same with Feast. Both incorporate 2/7 of a tale. Both have cliffhangers. To me, why does it matter how George writes it? At the series conclusion, all of the same words are going to be there, all of the same chapters and their POV characters are going to be there. And it is going to take him on average — minus that 1 1/2 years of course — 3 1/2 years to write each and every book in the series. You aren’t missing out on anything.
    When Dance is released, then you really have nothing to cry about. Because in that book and Feast, no matter how George split them, you are getting maximum words for your buck, along with all of the characters you wish for.
    And George will be 5/7 done with Ice & Fire.
    Of course, are you prepared for Winds to take 3 1/2 years?
    Cuz I’m telling you right now, based on the past, that’s how long it is going to take.
    “Why are so many in the fantasy community enamored with these huge tree-killing tomes with little inside but repetitive plot-points and needless exposition? Where the hell are all the editors?”
    This may be you being cheeky again, but I fully agree with this statement. Jordan went to the wayside when his editor stopped editing him. Needless pages of drivel. Look at Steven Erikson, someone I admire greatly for who he is as a person as well as his ability to write a book a year but whose character continuity is non-existent. If he had taken more than a year to write a book, perhaps he could have addressed those problems.
    It goes both ways, as you can see.
    At least I know that George’s editor is extremely involved and has been ever since George decided to split the POV characters thus. I know there are several new POV characters in Feast that people question why they are even there. Those are good questions. I have no doubt Anne asked George that. We’ll have to wait and see how they work into the overall narrative in the coming books to know the answer — were they needed or not needed?
    Most of your other points are big fat I-Don’t-Cares since you’ve finally agreed that 10 years is actually 10 years and not 8.5 years”
    We are talking about the time it takes for George to write and what he does away from his writing time. I personally don’t care about the 10 years thing. I understand that an extra 1 1/2 years bothers you, but it was for the betterment of the series in George’s mind at least and that should be enough for you.
    It isn’t. And that’s fine. But there again, we will agree to disagree.
    As I said earlier, one cannot be a hypocrite when it comes to his freewriting method. It is a double-edged sword. It’s given you great pleasure and it’s given you anger. The coin has two sides and you take it with you whenever you open up one of his books.
    “Your analysis of his writing process and how he spends his time is clearly based in fact, and who am I to dispute facts?”
    Being cheeky again? Gotta love it. πŸ™‚
    “Why do you care about the motivations for fan anger? What if I were angry at George because I don’t like captain’s hats? What is the difference to you?”
    One is subjective. The other isn’t. Who am I to tell you what to like and what to not like?
    This entire debate is summed up pretty simple for me. 90% of the anger that is out there toward George is fueled by misunderstandings about the craft of writing and how an author spends their time away from writing. You mentioned that above yourself. The 10% that are angry at him for his board manners or are angry that he missed a deadline or three, they have every right to be angry.
    My points are not directed at the 10%. They are directed at the 90%.
    Because I’m just as angry as those 10%ers. I say that right in my article.

  • The captain’s hats. I’ll try to make this analogous to our discussion here.
    If you don’t like captain’s hats because they are shaped funny or have a brim or don’t sit comfortably on your head, I don’t care.
    If you don’t like captain’s hats because you think they are made out of white velvet — something you are allergic too — and I know they are made out of tilly cotton and can prove it by showing you the tag, I’m going to show you the tag.
    Why? Because maybe down the road you’ll want to be Captain Merril Stubing for Halloween. And that misinformation you think you know might keep you from wearing the greatest costume of all time…
    Make sense?

  • Archon

    This…
    I’m absolutely for George taking the time to make his book just right… but I’m more for him finishing the series… and George isn’t exactly in the prime of health for a man of his age…

  • Joshua

    George can write whatever way he wants to, and takes as long as he wants, if the books are as good as his previous. I’m not going to tell him how to write. If I want books out every year or two, there’s plenty of authors for that. There’s a reason A Song of Fire and Ice is the best series ever, and it’s not because it meets deadlines.
    (BTW, I am also a fan of Glen Cook. The Black Company more than prepared me for waiting for the next book).

  • Me & my fellow classmates use your blogs as our reference materials. We look out for more interesting posts from your end about the same topic . Even the future updates about this topic would be of great help.

  • A_zen-like_chill

    “A Game of Thrones is 1/7 of an overall story. The same with Feast. ”
    Negative, sir. A Feast for Crows is 1/2 of 1/7 of an overall story.
    And this, I think, demonstrates what many of his detractors feel about the situation:
    “What GRRM did was lump those people who were sending demanding emails in with the fans who just want to know what was going on. If he’d have just come out and said that things weren’t going as well as he’d hoped and he needed some time away from the series to get it right, I would have accepted it. I said as much in the previous post, but, big shock, you ignored that. This was the beginning of the end of my fandom. All of the constant distractions and general disregard for those fans who chose not to post sycophancy on the NaB only served to fan the flames. The icing on my cake-of-hate is the people like you who refuse to acknowledge that he has behaved poorly these last five years and instead choose to defend a petulant, spoiled, unprofessional man.” Very well said, scorpiknox

  • “Negative, sir. A Feast for Crows is 1/2 of 1/7 of an overall story.”
    I think it is clear you don’t understand what I am saying, Zen.
    If Feast is one half of 1/7 of an overall story, then Martin would have to be writing 8 books. He isn’t doing that.
    As I said earlier, look at it by word count, not book count, and definitely don’t look at it how he splits apart his POV chapters. There are so many words needed to complete the series. Do you agree with me on that fact? All of the words in Feast, according to Martin, are needed to reach the end of the series. Feast is a complete book in the sense that it has a complete word count. It’s not half a book in words, right? It is as large as other books in the series.
    For what you say to be true, Feast would have to be half of a normal book. It isn’t.
    Word count is the only thing that matters when getting to the end of the series. The words in Feast represent 1/7 of the overall words it takes to get to that end.
    Right?
    Of course.
    Now. Look at Dance. Dance is actually more than your “half book” theory. The first 800 pages of manuscript bring the story up to speed. The additional 500 or 600 manuscript pages Martin has written should technically be in Winds. He isn’t doing that because he feels as though he owes his patient readers some resolution to cliffhangers he wrote in Feast.
    Man, what a jerk, eh?
    By the way, I’ve always said he is unprofessional. And even Martin has admitted that.

  • Job

    Hi Shawn,
    What happened with the newer comments ?

  • Ed

    Yeah, where have they gone?

  • joliet jake blues

    Shawn Speakman says:
    January 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm
    True enough. But I didn’t know George would be leaving for his pilot shoot for almost two months either.
    It will be published this year, I have no doubt.

    Well, that bet was lost too.

  • Rooben

    Any new thoughts on this? Now that a date for a dance of dragons has been set in July, and as of April he has stated he is still writing….
    I have been defending GRRM using this article, but now people are wondering if your thoughts have changed, now that it is a year after your projected date.

  • Well, my projected date was based on things the author was saying, so I’m not too upset about that, to be honest. I fell for it like you all did at one time or another. I learned like the rest of you not to trust anything he says or implies. And those of you who believe every projection he makes need to have your heads examined. πŸ™‚

    But my original points are still valid. The lateness of the book has nothing to do with his extra curricular activities but the craft of writing he employs. The gardening approach rather than the architect approach, which led to the Knot. The Knot took a great deal of time to unravel. If he had chosen to just put a book out there with inconsistencies, the series would have imploded upon itself.

    As I said I would a year ago, I was actually harsher than many of the detractors out there on this very site. I thought for sure the Knot would kill the series. That’s worse than a book being late; that’s the absolute destruction of an entire series, not the lateness of a book that people will eventually get. But I’ve been assured the Knot has been unravelled, so that’s good.

    And that would be the worst thing for all of us as well as future cheated readers, so I’m happy he took his time and at least got that right. Everyone should be.

    No, the most caustic reason the book has been late is something he’s been saying for several years now and been up front about in interviews — he has been overwriting. All of those characters needing their story arcs advanced the proper way for the perfect climax to the series to be reached. The perfectionism he feels he must employ to keep what could be the finest fantasy series ever on track is taking its toll on his readership. It also doesn’t help when George writes a chapter three times from start to finish and that chapter takes three weeks to complete to his satisfaction, that’s 9 weeks of time spent on just one chapter. That’s more than 1/6 of a year gone. It’s easy to see why this book has taken so long due to the editing, editing, editing he has prescribed to for this book. And that’s if he keeps the chapter that way.

    Does that make anyone happy? No. Does it have anything to do with the occasional convention, NFL, blog post, or editing job? No. But could his editing make us happy? It very well could. Because the end result will hopefully be worth it. We’ll have to wait until July to see if it is, in fact, worth it. And if it is, I hope people who have been angry with him forgive and forget. After all, the end result is what matters.

    Terry Brooks wrote a nice piece about this here: http://www.terrybrooks.net/2011/04/brooksblog-i-do-not-envy-george-r-r-martin/

    A good question, Rooben. Glad to rebroach the topic after so long. Cheers!

  • Alex

    > Middle parts of a story take longer to write
    That what’s get me worried – 20 years to get to the middle of the story. With Freewriting style and same writing speed are we 1looking for 10 volumes finished by the year 2031and coauthored by Sanderson?

  • Marie

    I’m glad that George learned a lesson about giving out deadlines. You’re correct. Freewriters simply can’t write ‘within the lines’ of an outline. It ruins their motivation because the adventure is gone and writing becomes a monumental and overwhelming task. Expectations do the same thing. Stress stifles the imagination of a freewriter. However, I doubt that fans really care how a book is written. They just want it out so that they can read it. That’s one of the reasons I gave up on reading series’. Not only is the time frame too long, but the authors get bored and start new series’ while the other languishes and becomes a chore. Then the quality takes a nosedive.

    Booksellers and authors may believe that forcing readers to wait an entire year will give them an advantage in sales. I’d rather have a complete novel than wait a year to have a cliffhanger resolved. If the resolution came in three to six months, I’d stick with it. But…a year? Ridiculous. Publishers need to consider whether or not all of these series’ books are actually part of what is hurting sales. It has certainly been a large denominator in keeping me out of bookstores. Just an FYI for booksellers and publishers.

  • Unlimited

    Mr Speakman, I have read your article, which i found really interesting, trying to explain away the troublesome problems Mr Martin had over the publication of his last book.

    First of all, i believe that Mr Martin is a great man, and while i haven’t met him , he seems to be a guy who knows his craft. Personally, I’ve yet to read the books ( i’m waiting for the series to be finished) but i watched the first 2 seasons of game of thrones, which i found awesome. but obviously the man is not without his flaws. I will go point by point to explain myself.

    ” Writing is not a science”

    An aspiring writer myself, i agree to what you say in this paragraph. I started basically as a freewriter but i have come to realize that my series require me to become an outliner and i will do what is necessary for the good of the series i’m planning, not my own preferences. Why ? because, in my own opinion, I believe that the content of my work requires me to change in order to do it justice. My point is, while writing is not a science, If one realizes his story need a change of technique, one should strive ( and I know it’s hard) to work on him(her)self to change, instead of just being like ” well that’s how i am, i didn’t choose, to” or the like, resigning ourselves to our inability to change. It’s,(to me) a question of choice, and hard work.

    “The Creative Wall”

    The creative wall you talk about, if i understood your discourse, is basically the amount of time one writer spend writing during the day before his brain burns out. That’s also a point that can be improved upon if the individual has the knowledge ( in my case, the spiritual knowlege) to make those days much brighter. I read that Mr. Martin enjoy having written, that some days (as i believe also happens to a lot of writers) he can write all days, sometimes not. To change that way of writing requires a change in a way a writer lives his(her) life, but is it something writers are ready to undergo ? The problem is in my opinion, not complex. It’s just a question of technique.

    “The merchandising of hobbies”

    To me, Mr. Speakman, the problem is not how Mr. Martin’s other activities impedes his creative life, but the amount of time invested in those activities. Mr Martin likes to go to conventions, book signings, NFl, etc. and no one says that he shouldn’t do that. The problem is if those activites, in addition of the other commitments he has does impedes his work, then one should wonder if he should not start to make a choice, or some sacrifices. He even admits that he agrees too much on new projects even though he is already full of those ! He admits that he’s a slow writer, but (personally) I did not see ( and I certainly hope to be mistaken) what he did to address those problems that i think can better his life ( Maybe because he thinks that he doesn’t have a problem in the first place, and that he can live that way, when i believe that this is not an example for the next generation to witness). Only time will tell.

    “The evolution of a trilogy”

    Very good explanation here, but to me, if he had made more planning among other things he wouldn’t have that many problems.

    “Updating becomes foolish when darkness gathers”

    Based on the information you provided, I can say that Mr. Martin should have continued to post updates on his work, even if he had e-mails of grief or whatnot. While there will always be some folks that send negative mail, the problem should not be the e-mail or letters, but your reaction to them. To add to that, he was late, and did not meet his deadlines. Basically, he kind of broke (many times) his promises. ( and that, from a spiritual standpoint, is very bad.) Readers are being that take habits in the release date of the previous entries on a series, and seeing the initial pattern broken did not help Mr Martin cause. I’m not saying that some readers did not overreacted, but I believe that Mr Martin did not take then the wisest measures to approach his problems. And now he reaps what he sowed.

    “The driven hypocrisy”

    Mr. Speakman, it’s not because a person brought us a lot a joy that we have to forget his flaws. personally it’s not because we have a winning method that it means that it’s the perfect one, and i believe that he uses a method that can be vastly improved upon, bringing him better results. Remaining stagnant is not the best way to evolve, but it’s to find new ways to strive for perfection ( if you have the ressources to do it). So, no, I do not find it hypocritical “to decry his writing process that brought them such great, enjoyable novels in the past[…]” But, if explained accordingly, he can better his writing process ( if he desires so).

    “Any Conclusions ?”

    You are right. People do make assumptions based on who or what they see. It’s the reaction of the subject of assumption that can clarify or not the perceptions of others, and if he(she) can do it well. I too draw conclusions from my assumptions, based on his recent actions and intel gathered on him to respond. I do not need to be a little mouse on his desk to see what the consequences of his writing life are like.

    Many people have come to his defense, even Mr Gaiman in his famous article: George RR Martin Is Not Your Bitch. While I believe that a writer should not spend every waking hour of his life dedicated to his book, he should however, be very aware that his success is due to the readers, and therefore, should at least be extremely thankful (it goes both ways) to his(her) fanbase that put some writers in the position they are now. Writing a post “To My Detractors” Is not a nice way of showing gratitude to all of your fanbase (Even your detractors may belong to your fanbase, you must show them gratitude at all times in my opinion, especially the ones that hates you the most.)

    I realize that artists sometimes lacks discipline. because art can be concrete or abstract, people can assume they can express it the way the want it without looking at the consequences. That by taking inspirations from very dark or negative things they can acheive greatness or the like. I was appaled by the Modus Operandi of many artists, especially writers.

    It is often said that ignorance is bliss, but that same ignorance can lead us to our own downfall if we don’t pay attention to the way we live our life. What I decry is the fact that many people defend many ways of living that should be decried. Instead of staying in darkness, why can’t we choose to live a better life by first looking for it, and giving ourselves the means of achieving it ? We can’t live forever in pleasures of all kinds, we also have to make some sacrifices for the greater good, but first for our own greater good. And that is, trying to live in true harmony with oneself, which will then pave out the way for the extinction of our own flaws altogether.

    That was my own humble thoughts. I respect everyone’s opinion and by no means i wanted to disregard it. Please forgive me for my english mistakes as it is not my native tongue.

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