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A Dance With Dragons

No, it's not done.

Yes, I am aware that more than a year has passed since my last update. A lot of you have been emailing me to point that out. Thanks, but really, I did know. Unlike many of you out there, I got my copies of the Song of Ice & Fire calendar, so I knew what date it was.

No, I'm not planning to update the update, for reasons stated in the update itself. Until such time as I can write, "It's done," it will remain the last update... aside from what I may say here from time to time, on my Not-A-Blog.

I made a lot of progress on the book in the first half of 2008. So much so that I was optimistic that I would be done by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I did not make much progress on the book in the second half of 2008. Indeed, I made some regress. (That Sansa chapter I talked about finishing, for instance. It's still finished, but my editor and I decided it belongs in THE WINDS OF WINTER, not A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, so it's been moved into the next book. Sansa will not appear in DANCE.)

Some of the reasons were literary, arising from problems in the narrative itself. I'm not going to discuss them here, because I really do not like talking about questions I am still wrestling with on a work in progress. It never helps. Art is not a democracy, and these are problems I need to solve myself. Having a few hundred readers weigh in with their thoughts and opinions -- which seems to be what happens whenever I post here about DWD -- does not advance the process. I'm sorry, but that's true. I know that many of you would like to help me, but you can't. I have editors and I have two capable assistants, and that's sufficient. I'm the only one who can dance this dance.

Some of other reasons for the delay have nothing to do with the book itself. They're extra-literary, arising from other things in my life. I could sketch out some of them here, sure, but what good would it do? Those who are inclined to understand would send me messages of sympathy and support. Those are not so inclined would dismiss them as "excuses," or even "feeble excuses." A few will even go so far as to accuse me of lying.

That's the part that really bothers me. For the record, I have never lied about anything having to do with A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or the series as a whole. I have been wrong, yes. I have been wrong lots of time, especially when I've tried to predict how long it will take me to complete the book, or when it will be published. Being wrong is not the same as lying. Since the very beginning of this series, I have been guilty of being over-optimistic about how long it would take me to finish the next book, the next chapter, or the series as a whole. I cannot deny that. I have always been bad with deadlines... one reason why I did my best to avoid them for the first fifteen years of my career. That's an option I no longer have, however. Or at least will not have until A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is complete.

That's the main reason why I no longer want to give any completion dates. I am sick and tired of people jumping down my throat when I miss them.

This latest flood of emails has worn down my resolve, however. So in hopes of quieting it, once more I will step into the breach --

I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will likely be published in September or October.

(Yes, I am aware that I have previously said that I hoped to finish by the end of 2008. And before that, I said that I hoped to finish by June 2008, before I went to Spain and Portugal. And before that, I said I hoped to finish by the end of 2007. I know, I know, I know. No, I was not lying. I was wrong. And wrong again. And wrong before that. This time I hope that I am right. But you know, I can't swear that in blood. I write one chapter at a time. One page at a time. One word at a time. And then the next.)

That's all I have. But it's more than Amazon has, or anyone else.

The INSTANT that I finish the novel and put it in the mail to Bantam, I will post that fact here, just as I did for SUICIDE KINGS a few days ago. Until and unless you read that announcement here, believe nothing you hear from any other source.

Thanks for your continued support... and for your patience.


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Feb. 20th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
All that I want, as a reader, is for the book to be what you want it to be. However long it takes, I'm fine with. (I will be dancing when I show up to pick up my copy.)

Thank you for talking with and listening to your readers, even if some need to learn to wait more politely.

My husband won't even start the series till he has all the books in hand. I have repeatedly told him he's crazy!
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
You are an amazing writer and I know that you will be done when you are done. I am looking forward to it, I cannot deny that, but I know that I have to be patient. It does give me a chance to reread the other books and see nuances that were missed the first couple of times around. Frankly, that makes me love the series more.
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Live, love, and be well...
We buy your books, not pieces of you. It may be argued that every artist instills a piece of himself in each work...and thereby we get a piece of you. But that piece is given, not owed, and certainly not bought.

So. You are human. Live your life and earn your bread. I want the next installment as much as anyone and more than most, but not at the cost of trying to turn another entity into a slave for my amusement. When the book is done, I'll be happy. Until then, be well and enjoy life, as we are all meant to do.

Feb. 20th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
Just so you know, I've immensely enjoyed your other projects (most notably Wild Cards) as well. I am sad that my new ASOIAF fix is taking a long time, but I know how the writing process goes... sometimes there's just not any words to write with. Art can be a bitch that way.

And for fuck's sake, of course you're allowed to have a life outside of writing. It's your JOB for crying out loud! It must be immensely frustrating for you :(
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
The one that brought you
To the assistant: I know this will probably be deleted, but it's not meant to be mean or negative. If you do delete, please at least pass on the sentiments to George.

Okay George. We get it. Well, maybe some of us don't. I won't apologize for those who are mean or spiteful, but neither will I be either of those. You've been very successful, and that's a good thing. You've earned the success. I think the biggest problem I have is not that it's taking a long time to finish Dance, but that it's not been worked on much. You've mentioned how difficult it is to put together the mosaic novels, and yet as difficult as that is you've put out three since the last "Ice and Fire" book, even though half of the next book was already written. I think Wildcards is cool. I liked Hunter's Run. I like Tuf, loved Dreamsongs, and think it's good for you to merchandise in areas you are interested in. I'm glad you travel and enjoy your success with others in your field at various cons etc... I just wonder what would happen if Dance was your primary focus every working day for just a few months. I really think most people just want you to work on it. We understand you're not fast, and that this complicated work takes time. It's just hard to celebrate so many other accomplishments when we're waiting on you to "Dance" with the one that brought you. Thanks for the update.
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
Best of luck. Looking forward very much to the book when it appears.
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the comments, so if someone has already said this, well...it bears repeating.

Take your time, personally, I'd rather have a masterpiece that took four years to complete then a hack work that took one. Also, I've always assumed you were in semi-retirement so I always thought you were just taking your time enjoying your golden years and what not.
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
Just keep on trucking and try and ignore the moron horde. Good luck.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Take all the time you need to complete the story the way it should be completed, George. thanks for letting us know from time to time how things are going with you. It's already more than what amazon or anyone else can give us. I'm saying 'us' but I should say 'I or me'. I can't speak for others. grins. Honestly I personally think that what you've already achieved and offered us (yes US this time) is already way beyond everything anyone else ever did. You're the best, George. Don't let anybody tells you otherwise or sapp your good mood.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
to George
Hey buddy, really sorry to hear that a lot of your 'fans' are treating you this way. You're a fantastic writer, capable of more depth, humour and just general great story-telling that many other writers (especially in Fantasy) aren't able to touch.

Keep up the amazing work, your series has captured my imagination, and as a reader and fan, you have my full support!!

- Hywel
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
While it would be inaccurate to say I am not dissappointed not to have a copy of Dance in my hands (please excuse the typos I was bought 3 english pints after my first), I do appreciate that the delay is to give us the best story you can. As long as you finish your Song before you die I'll be content.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC)
Adding one more comment to the sea
It drives me crazy that people forget

A) that you're human. And have interests and projects just like they do.

B) that the only thing worse than waiting for the next book, is finishing aforementioned book and having to wait for the NEXT next one....

C) that there are "a few" other books in the world and maybe they should read some of them while they wait. Some of them aren't bad AND they have dragons in them.

But yeah, you do what you gotta do.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
I can't believe how many people think it would be best for you to chain yourself to your desk and get the book finished just so they can read it, with no regard for the literary aspect of it all.

There's already a book series for people who care more about getting the next book than about the quality of that book. It's called Twilight.

I would much rather see you die of old age 50 years from now with the series unfinished than see the entire series ruined by a half-assed attempt to just get it done. Having any of the yet-unwritten books be anything less than they should be would be much more a tragedy than if it were never finished at all.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Please, take as long as you want. The creative process shouldn't be rushed, especially when what came before was so promising.

Good luck! and more importantly

Happy writing!
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
No one would anticipate it so much if it wasn't great, and it wouldn't be great if it could be hammered out effortlessly at regular intervals.

Take your time, have fun.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Much love to you, George. Shit never goes as easy as one anticipates.

Edited at 2009-02-21 04:38 pm (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
I suppose the difference between myself and some of these internet cowards who are harassing you is that I have a filter. I call that filter 'adulthood.' I no longer nag at Mommy and Daddy until they give me Tecmo Super Bowl II, I simply choose to acknowledge reality. Writing is hard work, and the middle of the series is logically the most difficult part. People get burnt out.

Oh and critics, I know you're stalking 'Not A Blog,' and I want to tell you that my analogy is DEAD ON. Just because you rationalize your argument with an adult brain, doesn't mean you aren't being childish.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Its hard to stay upset, so I won't.
This is more in response to George's response to his detractors. This is kind of what I've been worried about and why I haven't added my own internal struggles with not complaining. Don't get me wrong I think he is still emotionally stable, but I think we as a fan base have pushed him over the edge and guaranteed that the rest of the book will be done amidst a flurry of unpleasant emotions. How this will affect the book I do not know, but I can't imagine it will be helpful. And though I've limited myself to positive comments so far I can't help but feel a little guilty myself for having one or two of those negative thoughts, guarded as they've been.
There is a very good defense of George linked at Westoros under the sites topic of when the book will be done, or nontopic rather. In it a well connected blogger points out the style in which George writes and how many times he has to throw out and rewrite. I must say if I wrote like that I'd drive myself insane long ago. Way to stay sentient George. :) As I see it, and the way the blogger sees it, all the side stuff are good ways to keep his writing from scrambling his brains. So as for that I say, yes its ok if you take a leak and if you wanna take a little break to give your mind a breather thats ok too. Though as a small favor it would be appreciated if perhaps you could have someone make you a little site specifically for selling stuff as while I am interesting in buying some of your stuff I never could bring myself to enjoy advertisements I wasn't specifically looking for. To conclude thanks a bunch for the many gifts your writing have brought me and others and keep on keeping on my brother. :) ~Christian
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Don't sweat the assholes
I normally never post, I just like to read what you have to say on your many projects, but I finally feel the need to say something. What you do is an art, and cannot be rushed. You have a life outside these great books, and people who have none should try to understand that. Oct sounds great, it will be a wonderful 30th birthday present for me, but if you don't finish, oh well, maybe for Christmas. Please don't get upset by the obsessive naysayers, there are many of us out there who love and respect what you do. Thank you GRRM!!!
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
Screw 'em G! I love the swords and miniatures (and I’m sure I will love the calendar as soon as I get them) As everyone HERE (not Amazon or some other mass message-crap board) says DO THE BOOK YOUR WAY! Its yours to create and ours to enjoy. Just so I get to drop the F-Bomb, “FUCK ‘EM!!!”
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
I choose to be a fan of authors, not works, and I will read whatever it is you write, Mr. Martin, be it books, short stories, or blogs. Ars gratia artis.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
We love your books, and know that life happens. I'll be happy to read the book whenever it comes out. Good luck!
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
oh, but we love you no matter when the book comes out, sir. don't let the ungrateful hateful ones get you down.
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Take your time, do it the way you want it done, I'll be happy to read it when it's ready.

And for the record, this is your journal, why shouldn't you be allowed to discuss your other works, football, conventions and anything else that happens in your life? I appreciate that you take the time to communicate with your fans!
Feb. 20th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
Oh. This post, and the other one, made me want to simultaneously punch the detractors and give you a hug. Take whatever time you need. I don't mind waiting.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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