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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 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for all you have done and best wishes for the future
Dear Mr. Martin,

Thank you for giving us the gift of A Song of Ice and Fire. Thank you for making us laugh, cry, and snarl in rage at the troubles and triumphs of your characters. Most of all, thank you for changing the way that many of us think about fantasy.

In spite of how much I love this series, however, let me say this: I think the happiness of even one person is more important than any book. I am sorry that the discontent of some readers has had such a negative effect on you. I'm glad that you do seem to be working on projects, whether literary or otherwise, as the mood takes you. I hope that, in the future, you (continue to?) do what makes you happy. It's your life. I am privileged to share the creations of that life at various points, but buying your books doesn't give me the right to tell you how to live.

(Incidentally, I empathise with you quite a bit on this matter. I'm working on a very difficult doctoral thesis at the moment, and I've gotten to the stage when anyone asking me when I will be finished - as nearly everyone seems to do every time I see them! - gets a pained smile at best or an annoyed "I don't want to talk about it" at worst. Working to a deadline is bad enough without being nagged constantly, even if the nagging comes from people who admire you, wish you well, and are only asking because they care. I'm not saying this latter situation is the case with you - unfortunately, it probably isn't - but it is for me. And I still can't help being annoyed...)

I've wanted to post something nice to you for a while, but I didn't want to bring up the topic in threads that were dedicated to other things, like American football (which I don't watch, as I'm Irish and I prefer our national sports of hurling and Gaelic football).

Anyway: best wishes to you and to your family. May your life be filled with every grace and blessing.

Feb. 20th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
Hang in there George!
Don't listen to what those detractors say, they just don't get it. I know you're working your butt off trying to get the book done, and I'm here cheering on the sidelines for you. I love your writing and eagerly await Dance of Dragons, you are an inspiration to me, I honestly wish I were as talented as you are. I know how frustrating writing can be and I think that when it's done, it will be fantastic, but all good things take time. Doing the things you love aren't going to detract from your ability to get the book out, it's only helping by giving you a much needed reprieve to let that genius of yours rest. Personally, I'd kick 'em in the shins for ya man. I have nothing but love for you and am perfectly happy to be patient. I have no doubts that Dance of Dragons, when it's ready, will be awesome.

Lots of Love,
Feb. 20th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Art doesn't work on schedules, GRRM. I understand that. While that understanding doesn't help the shakes while waiting for the book, I don't hold it against you.

Thank you for all the hard work you've put into ASoFaI. It's a wonderful book series.
Feb. 20th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Why do you care about petty malicious posts? Let those people write so many good books, and then, maybe, let them have a say. If it would be so easy we would be all writers. As many others here, I would rather read a book that is good then the one that is written in time. I just read your other post, with Ricky Nelson's Garden Party. Bravo! I just wish you weren't either depressed or mad but only amused. They don't deserve it.
People, let the man do his magic in peace!
Let me quote another one of my favorite writers:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
— Douglas Adams
Feb. 20th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Take your time sir.

I realize that you are a human with a life just like me. I really like your Song of Ice and Fire series, and hope for more, but if you never finish Dance of Dragons, I'm ok with that too, and thankful for what you've put out so far. Our lives are all busy in these times, and most of us have a lot going on. I wish people would get off your back, and just realize you are a human with a life just like everyone else, and should be allowed to enjoy things.
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Hang in there!
Do whatever makes you happy. I, for one, will be happy to get the book WHENEVER it comes out. The joy of reading is that I can go back and re-read the first books before I read the new one. So what's the big deal?!

I figure it would be better to complete the book on your own pace and get it right, than to rush to meet a deadline and give us junk.

P.S. I am psyched about the HBO mini-series!!! I hope they pick it up!
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Your stories are yours to share as you see fit. Don't let the haters get you down.
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
Keep on plugging, George! I don't mind waiting, as I'm sure you will deliver a great book when you're done. Thanks for everything you've already published!
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
Hey dude ,just turn that inspiration on like a tap!
No seriously,I'm just grateful the whole series happened at all.I can wait,
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
You are one of the finest fantasy writers since Tolkien, and lots of us have no anger or venom or disappointment with regards to you or Dance whatsoever! Take as long as you want to finish the book (I'm sure it will be spectacular like books 1-4), and live life to the fullest and enjoy all your other projects. You deserve it! REAL fans would never treat the creators of their beloved art this way. And I, for one, enjoy the merchandise.

There's just no pleasing some people. And so many of them have become COMPLETELY unjustified in what they are saying. Wanting the book out is one thing. Attacking you and your other works, and making hurtful personal comments, is other, and is totally out of line.

God bless!

New Jersey
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
Dear Mr. Martin,

please take note that the majority of your fans are people with a life. They love your work because you write wonderful (or wonderful despiteful), realistic (sometimes painfully realistic), changing characters. When I think through what kind of changes I went since 'A Game of Thrones' was published, I guess I would not be able to finish the books, because I would not understand my own characters anymore. To stay in contact with them for such a long period needs time as a matter of course. I guess. I have no clue. I simply couldn't do it.

Maybe this will light you up: Some of your POVs became a kind of adjectives in my circle of friends („That was so tyrionesque...“)
Feb. 20th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say thanks for the series itself,you've gotten many friends of mine who had given up on reading altogether back into it.Dance of Dragons comes when it comes and everyone here even those who end up complaining of the wait will end up buying it.Its bound to be good simply because you wouldn't be worrying over it as much as you have.
In the meantime folks try some House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski,or the Gaunt's Ghosts series by Dan Abnett.That don't suit your fancy?Very well,go pick up Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Or how about Alhazred by Donald Tyson?If these somehow fail to please,why not re-read the previous four books in ASOIAF and pick up some of Mr.Martin's other works.I mean come on now,you know they're gunna be good and then you can complain he doesn't release enough of them either. Haha just kidding.
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
As a fan of the books I actually don't care when you finish, just that you do. I don't mind the breaks in between (anymore). Half of the fun is re-reading the series when a new one comes out and I'd rather have something that you are happy with because that's something that I will be happy with. So take your time. Just finish :)
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
There's a bizarre irony in the idea that people awful enough to go after you in this manner would be so passionate about your work. I think they're missing something.
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)
obviously the way you work works best for the story. I would be more disappointed if you rushed and gave us a less than perfect story as you have such a brilliant record so far! I recommend your books to everyone!
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
Dear George,

No Worries friend! Your real fans have got your back. So take your time, live your life and be happy.
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
Nothing like feeling chained to a project to kill creativity. Take your time. We'll wait!
Feb. 20th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
I'm a big fan and I will wait patiently.

I know it's easy for me to say, but try to ignore all of those negative @$$holes.
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
I personally don't care how long it takes for this book to be released. I've reread the series three times and I just bought it all on audio CD so that I can listen to it during my commute. I just love it.
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
* sending positive thoughts *
Good luck! I hope all goes well.
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Way to go!
GIve the jerks HELL George! Take your time and do it right! Please don't let the jerks dampen you enthusiasm for the rest of ASOIAF.
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Just keep doing your thing. When it is done and published, I will read it. Until then, I have other stuff to read. Anyone who is so obsessed they would personally attack you needs to look at themselves. If their lives are so empty that this book is the only thing they have to look forward to... they need to get out more. (That is not meant to reflect on ASoIaF, I *love* the series, but there are other things going on in my life.)

And the idea that you have no right to.. oh, I dunno, live your life is beyond ludicrous. Do these people chain themselves to their jobs? I don't think so. Write other stuff, watch sports, travel and enjoy yourself. I think if you are totally miserable it will be reflected in your writing. And you don't deserve to be miserable. Or sad or frustrated. You are an artist and a damn good one, and I look forward to the book when it comes out. I would much rather wait and have something fabulous to read than have it rushed and be disappointed.

Feb. 21st, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Sorry you felt the need to post this. It's not fair if you are being harassed about writing this book. Of course I want to read it and find out what happens next but it's up to you when you feel it is finished. I know I'll love it more if you enjoy writing it and if that takes more time then please take it!
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
Give the man a break
I like every Song of Ice and Fire fan love the books and are obsessed with them coming out. But what you people dont get is none of us are able to write this story...George is the genius writing this wonderful creation. I am guess he is like me and if you keep bugging him he is not even going to want to look at writing this book because there is enough pressure writing something this big without all of us getting down his throat all the time. I call for the e-mails and the nasty comments to stop. He will get it done when he can...you know this is his paycheck so I am sure he wants to finish it as well. But the same people that are bitching now with be doing so as well if he just pumps out a fast book that sucks and puts his name on it. We are lucky he only wants to deliver the best of the best. Like great wine it takes time.
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:53 am (UTC)
Having read both this post and the one you wrote after that was closed to comments I say screw all the people who are causing you grief.

You owe us nothing! Yes, I enjoyed the books in the series immensely, and yes I am as anxious as anybody to read more about the wonderful characters and world you have created but, if I never see any more books in the series I will be thankful and satisfied that I read the ones you did write.

A lot of authors have not finished a series for one reason or another and life goes on. Sometimes authors have written too many books in a series with the quality suffering. It was obvious they wrote the book(s) because they had too, not that they wanted to.

You have your own life to lead and you can do whatever you want. If you announce tomorrow that you are retiring from writing and not writing another word, then that is OK. You're entitled.

I was told by a wise person that "Those who judge don't matter and those that matter don't judge."

I sincerely doubt any of the people who criticize you and what you chose to do with your time have ever written a novel that has been published and certainly have never written anything near the quality of the "Ice and Fire" series.

I hope these words are of comfort and encouragement. I am pleased to have met you and read your work.
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George R.R. Martin
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