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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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Mar. 1st, 2009 05:38 am (UTC)
Good God. I don't even know how you are still able to write, what with the millions of angry and impatient messages you get!

I don't care when it's done as long as A) it does get done (which it will be), and B) it is amazing (which it will be).

Mar. 1st, 2009 05:40 am (UTC)
Good books can be likened to good lovers...
...they're worth waiting for.
Mar. 2nd, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
compliments and best wishes
You are marvelous, the books are marvelous - and not everyone out there is not an idiot. For my part, I will be very excited and happy when the book arrives and rush to buy it with all haste; and I wish you peace and enjoyment and nice constructive periods of writing - and the magical ability to dismiss unmannerly and stupid attempts at rushing.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
I enjoy well-written material (TV, movie, short, novel, essay, blog!). And that linguistic dexterity you displayed in the previous novels definitely played a large role in my enjoyment of your writing. On the other hand, I do not usually enjoy writing which is arbitrarily rushed to meet some meaningless deadline--maybe one set by some executive who may or may not even write anything beyond a check here and there or a grocery list, or perhaps even you set it in a moment of optimism. I, for one, would much rather you finish the book at your pace, whatever pace the story itself seems to dictate. Some of us have many things to read; some of us have many things to do; some of us have a life as well--and though all of us want to know what will happen, in truth, absolutely nothing will change BEFORE we read it--I'm truly sorry some cretins have spoiled the day, the week, the month out of impatience, out of a lack of empathy. Don't despair, though. I'd bet most of us would rather wait and "let the story cook" than add unnecessary stress and irritation to you. Good day to you! (And btw enjoy your new DL, Canty!)
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
I don't think the concern should be...
... that Mr. Martin isn't working 20 hour days to grind out a book as quickly as possible in order to mollify the impatient. Besides being silly, this ignores the basic realities of writing, chief among them being 'it comes when it comes'. Writing a thousand or a billion words doesn't get you to a hundred good ones with any more regularity or alacrity.

I think the concern should be that, regardless of how long it takes, there is an incredibly real likelihood the book is going to be a disappointment, and the longer things drag on the more likely it becomes that should the series even be finished at all, it will go out with a whimper rather than with a roar.

I want the book to be done, whenever that is. I want it to be as compelling as I thought the first three in the series were. I have all four of them in hardcover, a couple in paperback, and all of them in audiobook form, even. My concern is that any author, or even any professional, begins at some point to, to borrow a sports phrase, 'lose their fastball'. I am not an expert on literary history, so if there is a trend I am unaware of I freely admit that ignorance here, but are there a bunch of authors who do their best work past the age of 60? Mayhap there is a reason for that beyond age, then again...

Be that as it may, I found even the fourth book in the series to begin to groan under the weight of the world it represented. It was still a very good book, just less so than it's three older siblings. I see many of the same problems that plagued the Wheel of Time as it wobbled precariously through books 7, 8, 9, and so on beginning to crop up here. As the point of views become more diffuse and the 'size' of the world broadens, the sheer volume of the plot becomes ponderous to shift, a herd of buffalo thousands strong being guided across an endless plain by one lone shepherd, afoot.

So, I have nothing for Mr. Martin but the best of wishes. As someone who has derived hours upon hours of pleasure from his works I can only be hopeful that I will find similar joy in his future works, whenever they may be forthcoming.

And yet... I fear.
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
I got into your books about 7 or 8 months ago, and at first I was really put off by the sheer oddity of it. You see, I don't like "fantasy" type books. However, once I got past that, I REALLY enjoyed the books. I've read all the way through A Feast for Crows three times now, and am working on a forth.

I'm looking forward to A Dance like everyone else, but I'm not impatient. I figure the longer you labor, the more lovely it will be.

Thank you for writing this series. It provides hours of entertainment, and my friends and I discuss it all the same. It's truly one of my favorite series.
Mar. 4th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Live your life first
Hey mate I see lots of people saying take your time, finish it whenever and I agree with that for sure. Let me say though if you never want to take up the pen again on it don't feel you have to do otherwise. What you're doing I'm assuming started as a labour of love and if you ever did finish I think it would be an amazing legacy to pass onto generations to come, you're a truly inspired and refreshing writer. But in the end it is YOUR life that gets expended and you should do whatever brings you the most happiness and satisfaction. If that isn't the book then so be it. Don't feel trapped, the choice is yours and yours alone.
For the little one man's opinion is worth in this world I hope you find the inspiration and resolve to finish your great work one day, I think it will be remembered longer and touch the lives of more people than you'd imagine.
Just my 2c anyhow.
Mar. 4th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
i'm so glad to hear that you are making progress. and it sounds like the progress is substantial even by your evaluations.
it is a painful process to wait to find out what happens. i can understand why people are pissed off. that being said, i imagine it must be MUCH worse for you than it is for them. you don't OWE those people. and the truth is that the books are so good that for every one guy who walks away never to read another of your books, there will be 10 new converts to the series.
Mar. 5th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)
May I have this Dance?
Hi, just a quick note to add my support to you. I am a massive fan of the series, and check your site regularly for progress reports. I, like many others, am desperate for the next installment to be available, and although I would like it to be ready now I appreciate that these things cannot be rushed, and that you have a life of your own as well as holding the lives of these characters in your hands.
I for one would rather wait patiently until such time as you are happy with the book, because that way I know that it will be every bit as enthralling as the others. People who leave negative comments like the ones you have mentioned should be ashamed of themselves.
So chin up George, I and many others are behind you, cheering you on as you approach the end of this marathon. Keep smiling!!
Mar. 5th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
The Winds of Winter is Started!
That's the silver lining I spy here. Moving the Sansa chapter to the next book means you have a start on that one. I have trouble writing an interesting paragraph, so the thousands of pages(along with all the revisions) in this series is very impressive to me. Good Luck & Inspiration
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:48 am (UTC)
Whatevs Dude! Like Jesus said "It's all gravy baby!" (or something thereof)
"What's looking, is what you're looking for."
-St. Francis
You give everything all the meaning it has.

You are a Lion.
Not a sheep pretending to become like a Lion.
A Lion.

You ARE spirit.

There is only one.
Not two.

Now go on.
We are Grateful that we get to do this Great Work.
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for the update!
It's always good to have a prognosis - even if it is not good news - though, in this case, I think it is. You say you hope to have the book in our hands by the end of the year, and that is as much as we can realistically hope for, so I regard this as good news indeed.

I have written myself, and as everyone who has ever written knows, the process doesn't always unfold the way the writer imagines it will. Sometimes it refuses to unfold at all. We all hope that is no longer the case with aDwD, but if it is, we have to understand.

A handful of trolls can be truly loathsome, but as for the rest, they are just impatient for the rest of the story because they are so engrossed in it. Hopefully you will remember, when people are impatient, that it is only because the series is so damn good.
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Good luck
OK, so we'd all like to see the book finished. We'd all like to read it. But I can't help thinking of Pope Julius asking Michelangelo, "When will you make an end, Buonarotti?" To which Michelangelo replied, "When I'm finished!"

Maybe that's just in the movie, "The Agony and the Ecstasy", but the point remains. Good things take time.

So, good luck. I have many, many things to read, and I LOVE Wild Cards. When you finish ADWD, I will buy it and I will read it. Until then, hope all goes well with you. I've always enjoyed your work ever since reading "The Second Kind of Loneliness" in the December 1972 issue of Analog, and you have rarely let me down since then.

Take care,

Mar. 9th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
Hoping something will happen and it not happening doesn't make you wrong in any aspect... just hopeful ;)

I'm one of those people that's a bit upset about the length of time since the last book, but that's just because it's a good story and I'm anxious to get my hands on more of it. I know stress will kill the creativity and drive, so just take your time. Its upsetting that so many people want you to not have a life over this... You'll get there when you get there. In the interim I'm re-reading the series. It's interesting picking up things I didn't know would be important later on.

Thanks for writing such wonderful stuff!
Mar. 10th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
Be of good cheer
I feel, though I do not know, that there are more that support you than those that are angry. I am as anxious as the angriest, but I am content to know your desire is to give us the best book possible. How can anyone not know that A Dance With Dragons, and the whole series, is more near and dear to you than any of us? All should know that it never leaves your mind and you want to share it with us, as you have shared with us the wonderful books before it. I hope you to get a sense of those of us who are sending positive waves your way. Making you pensive and angry will not help you or us. My prayer for you is peace and inspiration.

P K Eubanks

P.S. The Rick Nelson video was a terrific response! It had me laughing.
Mar. 13th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
As you should
I never worried about you finishing this book or any of the future books. The fact that we have the ones we do is incredible enough, thank you. I do, however, have to point out that you are showing the strains of incredible expectations, expectations that could never be met. No matter what you write, or what you do, it'll never be enough, especially for those who are incessantly bothering you (i'm sure Stephen King knows exactly what you feel).

I know you never asked for anyone's opinion on this matter but you sound "guilty". Of what? It doesn't matter. If this is about you doing it your way then fuck'em! What EVERYONE (here we're talking about the vocal minority) else thinks doesn't matter. You're not hurting anyone and what you have given is joyous and worth celebrating, there's no need to write this letter (or the angry follow-up). If you really are doing it your way, and giving it everything you can, then everyone has to expect that it'll be done when it's done.

Enjoy your life, and don't let anyone tell you how to live it.
Mar. 15th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Well, I am sure you know that we all wait for this book, but hey, I understand! heh just thought someone should say it if it hasn't been already said. Sometimes things take longer than expected oh well, life happens even when you need to get something done.
So basically I love your books and wait for the next one.

Mar. 19th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Delays--a question
Hi George,
I'm a huge fan and love your work. I'm not writing to bash you for the delays, yet I do have a question. Even with all the other things you're involved with, how is it that it took 5 years between the 3rd and 4th volume of Ice & Fire, and now its been another 5 years since the 4th was published and we're still waiting on the 5th? I ask, because I really don't understand why it takes so long to complete the books. Could you please enlighten us non-writers? Thanks and best wishes, Craig
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: Delays--a question
The books are very long and very complex, and I write slowly.

That's all the enlightenment I've got, I'm afraid.
Mar. 22nd, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Thank you Mr. Martin. Your spellbinding tales have enriched our lives; you don't owe explanations. Creating 1 worthy novel in a lifetime is respectful, but you've earned a place in history. If you continue to add to your legacy, all the better - either way, Thank you!
Mar. 26th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Please take your time.
Your books are inspiration, and its obvious ( to me at least ) why it does take years to create them.

Apr. 9th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Dances with Dragons
I just wanted to add a word of support. You seem to be struggling. I don't know how much with artistic and how much with personal issues. I wish you the best. I am looking forward to the next book when you are able to finish it. So far the series has been excellent. Hang in there.
Apr. 9th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
Ignore the idiots...
Writing takes time - getting it right takes more. Real fans understand.
Apr. 15th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
I was converted to fantasy with Tolkien's Lord and avidly read all fantasy now. Never was I so enthralled with a series again until I discovered 'Fire and Ice'
Write on GRRM, I am patient and hanging on, it will be worth it - what a world you have created!
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Ignore your email
Write for future fans, not for us. Write for what is lasting, not for what gives us immediate pleasure.

There is a reason I am disappointed in modern art. There is a reason you don't disappoint. You know there's a tomorrow.
Apr. 25th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Waiting impatiently! :)
I can't wait until you finish Dance with Dragons. I usually wouldn't start a series that didn't have all the books out. I seen this had three out and assume it was a trilogy, but no. :( Don't get me wrong, I love this series and that is why I can't wait for the next one to come out. I also hope it'll be in ebook form right off, because I can no longer hold a book and read because of chronic pain.

How many books are in this series? From your comment there is at least one more after this one. Is it coming out at the same time? Another words are you just breaking one book into two?

Sorry to pester you, but you only have yourself for being such a good writer! And though I'm impatient I never feel you are lying, just optimistic.

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George R.R. Martin
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