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Last Year (Winds of Winter)

The last post from the Lost Post, and the one you've all been waiting for.

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

You wanted an update. Here's the update. You won't like it.



THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.

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

But the book's not done.

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

I suppose I could just say, "Sorry, boys and girls, still writing," and leave it at that. "It will be done when it's done." Which is what I have been doing, more or less, since... well, forever. But with season 6 of GAME OF THRONES approaching, and so many requests for information boiling up, I am going to break my own rules and say a little more, since it would appear that hundreds of my readers, maybe thousands or tens of thousands, are very concerned about this question of 'spoilers" and the show catching up, revealing things not yet revealed in the books, etc.

My publishers and I have been cognizant of these concerns, of course. We discussed some of them last spring, as the fifth season of the HBO series was winding down, and came up with a plan. We all wanted book six of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to come out before season six of the HBO show aired. Assuming the show would return in early April, that meant THE WINDS OF WINTER had to be published before the end of March, at the latest. For that to happen, my publishers told me, they would need the completed manuscript before the end of October. That seemed very do-able to me... in May. So there was the first deadline: Halloween.

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

Early August saw me back east for my nephew's wedding and an appearance with the Staten Island Direwolves. I took advantage of the visit to have another sit down with my editors and publishers and told them that I didn't think I could deliver by Halloween. I thought they'd be sick about it... but I have to say, my editors and publishers are great, and they took it with surprising equanimity. (Maybe they knew it before I did). They already had contigencies in place. They had made plans to speed up production. If I could deliver WINDS OF WINTER by the end of the year, they told me, they could still get it our before the end of March.

I was immensely relieved. I had two whole extra months! I could make that, certainly. August was an insane month, too much travel, too many other obligations... but I'd have September, October, and now November and December as well. Once again I was confident I could do it.

Here it is, the first of January. The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES premieres in April (mid April, we are now told, not early April, but those two weeks will not save me). Even as late as my birthday and our big Emmy win, I still thought I could do it... but the days and weeks flew by faster than the pile of pages grew, and (as I often do) I grew unhappy with some of the choices I'd made and began to revise... and suddenly it was October, and then November... and as the suspicion grew that I would not make it after all, a gloom set in, and I found myself struggling even more. The fewer the days, the greater the stress, and the slower the pace of my writing became.

Look, I have always had problems with deadlines. For whatever reason, I don't respond well to them. Back in November, when I returned to Northwestern to accept my Alumni Award, I told the Medill students that was why I started writing fiction instead of getting a job on a newspaper. I knew even then that daily deadlines would kill me. That was a joke, of course... but there was truth in it too. I wrote my first novel, DYING OF THE LIGHT, without a contract and without a deadline. No one even knew I was writing a novel until I sent the completed book to Kirby to sell. I wrote FEVRE DREAM the same way. I wrote THE ARMAGEDDON RAG the same way. No contracts, no deadlines, no one waiting. Write at my own pace and deliver when I'm done. That's really how I am most comfortable, even now.

But I won't make excuses. There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO, not David & Dan. It's on me. I tried, and I am still trying. I worked on the book a couple of days ago, revising a Theon chapter and adding some new material, and I will writing on it again tomorrow. But no, I can't tell you when it will be done, or when it will be published. Best guess, based on our previous conversations, is that Bantam (and presumably my British publisher as well) can have the hardcover out within three months of delivery, if their schedules permit. But when delivery will be, I can't say. I am not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over. The deadlines just stress me out.

I am going back to my stance from last March, before all this. It will be done when it's done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.

Having said all that, I know what the next question will be, because hundreds of you have already asked it of me. Will the show 'spoil' the novels?

Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that... hey, that's up to you. Look, I read Andy Weir's novel THE MARTIAN before I saw the movie. But I saw the BBC production of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL before I finally got around to reading Susanna Clarke's novel. In both cases, I loved the book and I loved the adaptation. It does not need to be one or the other. You might prefer one over the other, but you can still enjoy the hell out of both.

Of course, there's an aspect to our situation that did not apply to either the Weir or Clarke cases. Those novels were finished before they were optioned, adapted, and filmed. The case of GAME OF THRONES and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is perhaps unique. I can't think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written. So when you ask me, "will the show spoil the books," all I can do is say, "yes and no," and mumble once again about the butterfly effect. Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all... because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ALL FIVE SEASONS AND READ ALL FIVE BOOKS, STOP HERE!

Just consider. Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes... but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways. Balon Greyjoy, on the flip side, is dead in the books, alive on the show. His brothers Euron Crow's Eye and Victarion have not yet been introduced (will they appear? I ain't saying). Meanwhile Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING.

GAME OF THRONES is the most popular television series in the world right now. The most pirated as well. It just won a record number of Emmy Awards, including the ultimate prize, for the best drama on television. It's an incredible production with an incredible cast and crew.

WINDS OF WINTER should be pretty good too, when it comes out. As good as I can make it, anyway.

Which is a long way of saying, "How may children did Scarlett O'Hara have?"

Enjoy the show. Enjoy the books.

Meanwhile, I'll keep writing. Chapter at a time. Page at a time. Word at a time. That's all I know how to do.

((And yes, this is my final Cliff's Note for the day. You can all go to bed now)).

Comments

( 1017 comments )
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Needles__Kane
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:25 am (UTC)
I can wait. But thanks for the update anyways.
kata-strof.blogspot.com
Jan. 2nd, 2016 08:09 pm (UTC)
I wish I could tell you, George, not to mind the mass of ASOIAF-fans' cries of anger, waving of tridents and torches and demands of books being written and released. I can't, though, since I'm a stranger on the internet.
But I really wish people could stop being so upset just because they can't wait to consume some media they like.
Creating is a fragile process, be it writing, painting or sculpting, and the creative process is best left undisturbed by outsiders.
An author's story should be hers/his (and persons' from whom she/he seeks help) business alone AND NO ONE ELSE'S, until the point where it's ready to be released, in my opinion.
jcast747
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:29 am (UTC)
Just keep on truckin'. The fact that you're working hard is enough to sate me.
Steven Sidore
Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:51 pm (UTC)
Well said.
My sentiments exactly.
Brett Anon (TheBrett)
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:30 am (UTC)
It's alright
It's a bit of a bummer, but okay - and I'm glad you're going back to your "update when it's done" stance. I was thinking it would come sometime mid-2016 anyways.

Like you said, the show's diverged so much that a lot of the spoilers from Season 6 won't be much in the way of spoilers. And the one thing that might be genuinely spoiled by the show in an unavoidable way is something that a lot of fans already strongly suspect is going to go down a certain way.
Nicholas Vasilios Pappas
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:30 am (UTC)
Love your work, George! Get it done when it's done. I'll be there.
mikzey
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:31 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Thank you for writing this post. An update just keeps everyone up to date and clarifies everything. Many thanks and Happy new year. Michael.
mercedene
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:31 am (UTC)
'It'll be done when it's done' is good enough for me and should be good enough for the rest of your fans.
AustinBodkin
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:32 am (UTC)
Awwww
Thank You, George. You didn't have to be upfront, you did not owe anyone an explanation, but you gave one anyway. I am not going to lie about the disappointment of having to wait even longer for Winds of Winter, but you are, after all, only human. Although, on the bright side, now you have a New Year's Resolution ready to go for 2016!

Edited at 2016-01-02 07:33 am (UTC)
caravaggio2012
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:32 am (UTC)
Thanks for the update George. It's going to be great when it is done. We'd all love to read it this very second, but it will come when it comes. I'm sure the Pope wanted the Sistine Chapel painted faster too, but sometimes it just takes time. I'm sure it will be worth it.

Unless Jon's comeback isn't awesome, then I disavow you.

Cheer up buddy.
DabuLuvsJonclyn
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:33 am (UTC)
Shit happens, paces change or are different than expected, it's human nature. You're still a boss. Anyone who creates Wyman Manderly and Catelyn Tully is a straight G in my book, no matter how much time perfection takes. Thanks for the update.
Michael McLaughlin
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:33 am (UTC)
we still love you
Dan Lynch
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:34 am (UTC)
Sorry
I know that a lot of people will be a little disappointed by the announcement that Winds isn't coming out as soon as we thought, but to be honest I think you're the person who's been hit the hardest by this. So I'm sorry, and I just wanted to say that we're all still right here with you!
randitherogue
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:34 am (UTC)
No Worries
You know, George, I'm not as disappointed as I expected myself to be. I'm just happy to have heard some news about Winds! Keep on keeping on and we'll be here to read Winds when you've finished it. Remember, we're all here because of you and you have our support!
David Beers
Jan. 2nd, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC)
RE: No Worries
Amen. I appredicate all the artists that inspire me and I take whatever they want to give me and the rest of the world happily. The most important thing is that it's done right, because once you hit "print...." it's set in stone typeface.

Happy writing George! All the best!
threehourriverm
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for letting us know
That couldn't have been fun to write. But fact is in 50 years readers will judge on the book's quality and not if they met some arbitrary deadline and beat the TV adaption. As much as I'd like to see it released soon, I ultimately approve of the priority on quality.



Night George, thanks for the fun day reading these updates.

Edited at 2016-01-02 07:53 am (UTC)
unit9
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:35 am (UTC)
Haters gonna hate.
Thanks for the work you do, have done and will continue to do.
All that you've done has entertained and made me happy. Thirsty for more, sure. But quality over quantity and all that.
Andrew Firestone
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:35 am (UTC)
Don't be depressed George
Be determined.

Be determined to not let the stress of your commitments define who you are. These are your books. They are no one else's. If anyone can continue the absolutely mind-blowing trip through Planetos, what some may call one of the most ambitious projects in the history of fiction, it's you.

I'm not disappointed. I'm proud that I've chosen to read the books of an author who genuinely wants to produce great works for the reader. I know that your process can only be so difficult because of how much you respect your readers. And, against all the pressure to get it out now, now, now, that is triumph of the human spirit if I've ever heard of such a thing.

Thank you for your kind words, and please, don't be depressed about not making an imaginary deadline.

Be determined. Because you did not compromise the vision for you knew what be the most electrifying experience we will hope for.

Edited at 2016-01-02 07:37 am (UTC)
Dustin Klavon
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:36 am (UTC)
George,

I don't know if you will ever see this but I just wanted to say that it was tough to read this post and see some of the pressure and pain you are feeling. I've always been in the camp that you owe us nothing, you've created this wonderful series for us to enjoy, and for fans to at best criticize and at worst make personal attacks is wrong.

It's disappointing to hear that Winds still has time to go but I just wanted to say- thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for this series. Thank you for all you've done for fantasy and fiction. I think you hear and feel a lot of the negativity from the average joe fan and not enough positivity so that was my motivation to say that.

It sucks but we can keep waiting. Until then try to enjoy the writing process as best you can, try not to feel that pressure, and good luck to your Jets this winter too... you guys have a good coach in Todd Bowles.
ladydragonborne
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:36 am (UTC)
Please don't stress yourself out too much or be too hard on yourself. Of course we would all love to read the book right this second, but that is just not possible, as you said. Just keep persevering, and know that we all appreciate your hard work.
ezzkmo
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:37 am (UTC)
Thanks George for all of the updates. 2015 was a great year, and I have a added a couple more amazing books to my collection that have your (and many other amazing authors!) name on them.

Wishing you and the family a happy and healthy 2016!
Liam Mcguire
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:37 am (UTC)
Keep going at your own pace, one man can only go as fast as he can go, and the naysayers should bugger off in the meantime 😊
khalifa_alqaz
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
It's alright man, just keep it up and try to make it as good as possible when it's done, I bet it's gonna be worth the wait.
Michael Steed
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
Thanks Grrm
Thanks for the update. Thanks for the books. Take your time, enjoy your life. We'll enjoy them when we get them.

Thanks for being awesome.
Trey Mackey
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Not disappointed.
Im not disappointed at all. I love these books and I would rather you take two more years to finish instead of putting out subpar material. Any person who has spent time with these characters should feel the same way. Worlds are not created easily, especially one as wonderful (and not so wonderful in parts) as this. We continue on with our boring real lives knowing that at some point we will all step back into that world. And I can and will wait for that.
Zet Scott
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Most of us are waiting (kind of) patiently. We want the same quality of writing that you have been giving us. If we have to wait for that, then so be it. When it is done, we will be here. Praying for a midnight release. :-)
lythantos
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Thanks!
I am sure I speak for many when I say thank you for the update. I hope there are not too many who would wish for you to do what you do in anything other than your own time. All of the best art comes from the artist being true to themselves and their vision. Patience will reward us all in the end.
Courtney Katrina Foley
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Take your time George!
I think some people find it hard to understand what it takes to work
on such a creative endeavor.
Don't let it get your down.
Have a Happy New Year as well! :)
Elijah Bak
Jan. 2nd, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC)
Umm... thanks, I guess.
This confirms my plans for the remaining seasons of the show, i.e. I won't be watching them until after books 6 and 7. Dave and Dan have shown their weakness as writers with Robb's story line, Stannis', and the entire trip to Dorne and more besides. I won't let their telling ruin the major plot points of the as-yet-unwritten/unfinished books.
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