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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 03:38 pm (UTC)
It could always be worse
Before I start, I think I should add that I've posted on the blogs here maybe once or twice and emailed Martin about the same amount of times over the past 10 years or so.

The Website is georgerrmartin.com, not asongoficeandfire.com. That means, to me, it's about the author, not the series (though of course the site is largely devoted to the series, as it should be).

Having said that, when I surf to the site, I do so to find out the latest news on the Song's progress — whether it's calendars, games, miniatures, the HBO series and other things. Still, it's mostly to see how the next book's coming along. It's not that I have anything against the other works. I'm sure they're great, but going months without any word on the Song's progress can be frustrating. So, I can sympathize with some of the detractors — though they should keep the derogatory comments to themselves.

Personally, I don't see how Martin manages all the things that are going on. Seems like quite a headache. I think most of us have an idea of an author as someone who retreats into the mountains and stays in a log cabin — a virtual hermit who devotes ALL his time and energy to his work and doesn't emerge until it's done. That's a nice thought, but unrealistic. Just imagine all the good food you'd be missing out on.

Gotta take the good with the bad — that goes for all of us. One of the most ironic things I've found about writing is that a work that may take years for an author to create can take only a day for someone else to read. It takes me months to get through a book. I'm a very slow reader and don't mind taking my time enjoying the details...unless the details are entirely pointless and don't contribute to the work, but that's not been the case with Song for me.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have a popular series with legions of fans. I've got my own universe and story that's been developing over the past 25 years. But, frankly, the thought of sending any of the stories off to a publishing company scares the crap out of me. I'm never satisfied with what I've written. I don't know how it would affect me if the publisher/editor sent a story back to me with a red F on it (yeah, yeah, I know that's not how it works, but you get what I'm saying). And if it took off, I don't know how I'd handle people telling me what should happen and how I should write in MY universe. I guess you can call me selfish in that regard.

So, to the detractors — I sympathize with you, but get the f$#@ over it. It's not your damn story, and you should feel fortunate we even have such a fantastic series to read. And to Mr. Martin, take as much time to make the best damn novel you can, but please try and keep us updated with progress fairly regularly.

Good gawd, I'm long winded somtimes.

Peace to the brothas.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm from Spain and I've created this account only to write this message, giving you my entire support. It's unbelieveable how people can e-mail you saying such things, they should be nothing but grateful for the great time they've passed reading the previous novels. I know a lot of spanish fans, (me included xD), that consider you a demigod. We love you Mr Martin!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Seriously, though... You probably don't care for advice, but if you don't think you can tell the rest of the story in one novel, you should take your time and make consider another one on top of that. I know it's more work, but better a great work that takes a long time than a rushed job that you just don't end up satisfied with in the end. Yes? I'm sure whatever you do will turn out awesome. Cheers!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the other comments, but please don't let the detractors get you down. Clearly they're not familiar with the creative process. They go to work (hopefully!) for 8 hours and then have some down time, but maybe don't realize that writers like to do the same thing? Enjoy your football and your other writing projects. We'll be here when you're done. People who can't be bothered to grok that are not worth the time of day. Thank you for the update, and for being a conscientious writer; I'm sure that if you'd wanted to, you could have hacked out something wretched and had it to the publishers two years ago, but if a good story takes longer, so be it :) Some people think that quantity = quality, but most of us know better.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
From someone who's a professional editor -- submit the book you want and need to submit. Not before.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
I'll wait for you.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
I say, tough monkeys to anyone who wants to shout or stamp their feet at you. You're a pretty magnificent writer and I'd much rather you wrote the book you wanted than scrawled out bollocks to please the idiots of the world!
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
When one of your books shows up in my bookstore, it's like Surprise Christmas. I heard something that sounded like wisdom the other day. "Expectations are premeditated resentment." From me to you, Senor Martin, do what you've gotta do and thank you so much for the bad-ass books thus far.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
My First Message To You
I'll keep it short and add to the well-wishers.

You do great work. You're correct, you can't please everyone. Best of luck with everything...work and non-work alike. It's done when its done.

Feb. 20th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Shame & Love
Every great artist has a legion of deranged fans to contend with. They confuse their enthusiasm for new material for entitlement. I just watched the same thing happen to Trent Reznor where this horde of fans did a fantastic uproar when Trent’s x-mas gift (400 gigs of HD live footage!) was not delivered on x-mas day. It was horrific to watch. Shame on them.

& if the series is never finished it’ll just be Deadwood all over again. Deadwood may very well have been the best television series of all time. And we will never have any kind of closure. Still I am eternally grateful that it existed. Period.

I read 150 books in 3 years & there was many ‘classics’ among them. A Song of Ice & Fire was the very best of the lot (I’d play sick from work & friends to read it obsessively). The series has done for fantasy what BSG did for sci-fi. GRRM, you owe us nothing. We, in turn, owe you whatever you desire most.

Peace, love & goodwill
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
Your books are good enough to be worth the wait. Good luck, and you definitely have my support.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin -

I just wanted to thank you for all of the work that you're doing and, despite what the impatient among believe, I understand that your work (especially the Song of Ice and Fire) is very time-consuming. Further, I completely understand and respect that you have other interests aside from this one series of books. I'm just heartily looking forward to the new issue (and can only truly hope that the gap between books 5 and 6 is less than the one between 4 and 5)

Keep up the good work!

Feb. 20th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Anyone jumping down your neck for the next deadline is not a true fan. You have to do what you want to do, or the book will not live up to its predecessors. It's never going to be perfect, but if you don't strive to get it as close as possible, then you really won't please anybody.

Keep hold of your obstinacy, GRRM - I'll wait till the Doom comes for a worthy next chapter.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)
All I'm going to say is "good luck!" As complex as the story stands at the end of A Feast for Crows, I can't imagine how it will unravel itself from here. All I know is the only thing that will make the story as good as it can be is a major labor of love.

I wish you godspeed for the June deadline and should you make it I will be hitting my local bookstore ASAP as soon as it hits the shelves.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
I recommend your books to everyone I talk to about literature. If you decided to never finish the series, I'd still recommend them constantly. Thank you for the truly phenomenal gift you've already given us.

(Not to mention, I'm a huge patriots fan, but I still like reading your football posts because they get me all riled up. So please don't stop :) )
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you're not reading this many comments in, but here goes:

I'm a very amateur writer. I've tried writing things. The longest I've ever done is about 60,000 words. And I know what that was like.

Regardless of whatever else I read, and whatever else you write (or don't), you'll still be one of my favorite authors ever for what you have achieved, even if you don't write another lick. Creation is a product of the person who's doing the creating, and it won't happen any other way -- it depends on them, their life, and their experiences. Whatever they are, and whatever the person chooses them to be in the future.

So, live your life, do whatever work makes you happy, and if more books come out of it, I'll be ecstatic to read them.

Feb. 20th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Support your favorite author!
As anxious as I am for DWD, I totally understand. You aren't a machine, you are a human that writes amazing things that I love to read. You're fine, honey. I'll wait. :)
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
If the story was bad, I wouldn't read it. If the quality was less, I'd say I wasn't willing to wait.

But considering I still say that a Song of Ice and Fire is one of the best series I've ever read? I'd rather it continues to be written at high quality, rather than hold to deadline.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I admire folks who are professional writers, especially fiction writers. It gets hard, and if aren't having fun in life in the mean times, what's the point?

Take your time, be happy, have fun.

Lots of love and support.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Take what time you need to. It's not as if the books don't bear re-reading, and in the meantime, the world is full of other things to read & see & do. Thanks for all your wonderful work.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
I hope you dont let all of this stupid, morbid shit get you down! It is your story to tell. And I absolutly loved your response to all of the nay sayers! True true! I guess I am not one because I am used to this sort of thing. Ever heard of Jean M. Auel? Now there is an author who takes her time! Anyway's I just want you to know that I am excited about this book coming out. But,like you, I know there is more to life then the next release date. So do what you gotta do, and fuck the rest!
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Don't Sweat It, George
The fact that you even keep a blog, letting us all in to see what you do and like, is cool. There will always be detractors, and always people who claim that they like your books but you're mistreating your fans. I have a hard time believing that you are fleecing your fans or otherwise maliciously mistreating those who enjoy your works. It sounds like too much work.

I'm a huge fan of your written work (I can't say I ever watched B&B or the 80s TZ series) and found the Dreamsongs collections far better than I'd even hoped. If you stopped ASOIAF now I'd still be happy for what I have, but I have to admit I'm greedy and I'd love more.

Don't let the vocal minority get you down; we all know that ADWD is a #1 book the moment it hits stores. You have at least as many fans who read your blog as so-called fans that are really just entitled whiners that post here too, as well as thousands and thousands of fans who just enjoy your books and don't take to the 'net in force.

Armageddon Rag is an awesome book.
Feb. 20th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Please hang in there! Don't give up on those of us that are patient and loyal. It's neat to have fans, but ultimately, a writer writes for him or herself at their own pace. And that's the way it is. And life gets in the way for better or worse. Your fans who stick with you through the good and bad road blocks are the ones who are important. It's all about the story, and we'll wait patiently.

I'm a playwright and comic book writer. I understand.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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