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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 03:00 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry you've received so many demoralizing emails. I don't understand why anyone who values your writing would be so critical. Even if their affection for the Ice & Fire series doesn't transfer over to you in the slightest (which I find strange), you would think that at least they'd realize that, practically speaking, badgering you about how long DWD is taking to write is not going to improve matters and could quite possibly make them worse. After all, if anything is a waste of your time, it's reading hostile emails from excessively entitled jerks.

I'm glad you're not chained to your computer 24 hours a day. You're a human being, not a novel-writing robot. One who is entitled to a varied, full life, including multiple projects to work on, and a bit of travel now and then, if that's what you're into. This is to say nothing of the right to address (in privacy) all the challenges and crises and irritations that come with being a non-robot. And I figure having a varied life and personal challenges can only contribute to the quality of your writing during the times when you're working on DWD.

Perhaps more to the point: let he who is capable of writing a series as complex and engaging as Song of Ice & Fire cast the first stone. Except anyone who had worked as hard on a story as you have on this one never would.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
I think it was JD Salinger who described blasphemy as a low form of prayer. That's what your complainers are basically up to - after all as you note, they have no constructive way of contributing to the writing process of a person they've never met.

No one would be complaining if the books you've written were not extremely compelling. Take them for the (backhanded) compliments they are, and then forget about them. They're not meant for you in the end anyway, but rather for the Unknown.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Also, pay no mind to the haters. It's only giving your new fans time to catch up (I've got six friends who've started in the past two months alone).
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
I can top that!
I've been working on a novel for 25 years and I haven't even started yet!
Seriously, I know it must be grating to see less-than-gracious comments by disappointed fans. To them I say: "Bah!"
I'll cheer when I have the book in my hands but I don't want it to turn into an albatross around your neck for you. (I have no idea what that analogy meant. The voices told me to write it)
Until then, I would recommend taking a 3-month vacation from working on it - THAT'll teach them!

Mind you, the world needs a new novel by you - that new Cherryh novel was just awful.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
We love you, George!
Take as much time as you need to get it right. I for one am a GRRM FAN, not just a aSoIaF fan-- so I am excited about any project that you are attached to!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us an update. It's been rather painful following the comments in your Not-A-Blog of late with all the venomous hate. Am I disappointed that the book isn't finished? Sure, but I'm probably not nearly as disappointed as you yourself must be. Great works require patience from both the author and the audience, and I'm more than happy to continue waiting. Thanks again.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
I know it'll be worth the wait.

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for a) writing b) telling us what's up and c) writing again.

I think we get frustrated because we (the rabid ASoIaF fans) keep hearing about other projects. It's disappointing and we worry that our favorite project is being neglected. I don't begrudge you football and I'd be kinda worried about you if you didn't have other interests besides writing.

Best luck with Dance of Dragons, Wild Cards, and even football. :-)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
It honestly really bothers me that some people just won't leave you alone about it. Don't they realise they're just going to spoil it for the rest of us by rushing/pressuring you? Grr!

Anyway I know I'm just another sympathetic ear but it probably helps to know that there are lots of us rabid fans out here that are more than happy to let you take as much time as you need to finish the story. I for one will be somewhat sad when it ends, because, well, finishing a good book or series always makes me sad to have to let the characters I have come to know and love (or hate) go.

Take care, and thank you for having such an enjoyable blog to read (even though I have no idea about American football!).

Noli nothis permittere te terere.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
Forget them

I just wanted to send you my support. I have sat by for years and watched you defend yourself from the people who want what they want, when they want it, and wont take anything for an excuse or reason. I have been in the Air Force for 10 years, I do empathize :-) No matter how long it takes, you take the time you need. Another of my favorite authors, Stephen King, took almost a decade for one of his Dark Tower books...I am in no rush. It will make the story that much better from the anticipation.

What I am trying to say is...you have a supporter out there...Its all about the quality...take as much time as you need. Winter IS coming, but I can wait it out :-)

Thank you for all your hard work entertaining us,
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
Two things:

1. I LOVE the Wild Card books, so, although it may be heresy to say this on a post about Dance With Dragons -- I'm so happy you're working on those :) And for the record, a lot of us are equally jumping with joy about your announcement about Suicide Kings.

2. Thank you for openly talking about the other things that happen when you're writing. As a starting out writer, I found this post tremendously comforting -- I'm getting incredibly frustrated by my own lack of progress, especially today, and it was an incredible relief to find that you are having similar frustrations with writing progress and interference from real life.

3. Can I just squee at hearing that you already have a finished chapter for Winds of Winter!!!!

Thanks again, and I'm more than happy to wait as long as it takes. (Especially since I have another Wild Cards book coming...)

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
"Unlike many of you out there, I got my copies of the Song of Ice & Fire calendar, so I knew what date it was."

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
Cheer up George!

We know you can do that, and we will wait for you. First of all you are a person and you have a life, and that comes before everything. At least you are sincere and take your time doing what has to be done. As we say in Spain "good things need their time" =). So don't give up and nevermind the trolls and their trolling mails, they don't deserve your attention. And next time you come to Spain, we'll take you to the best pizza restaurant in Barcelona xD
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
You just can't hurry the wave of the mind. Writing is about the loneliest thing there is. Do what you have to do; we will still be here.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
You've certainly apologized enough for making date predictions you turned out not to be able to keep. But I think you're wise to try to stop making them. I don't wish to defend those who are flaming you for not getting the book done, though the completion date announcements do have a tendency to raise expectations, and your propensity for writing cliffhangers raises frustrations.

For my part, though, I say: take as much time, and as many breaks, as you need. If you barreled right through, with no discarding and no revising, yeah, you could get it done in six months. But it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it would be with more care. You know that: that's why you discard and revise; and I as a reader know it and appreciate it. An author who's taken a break to watch a football game that he enjoys will be a better author when he goes back to the keyboard.

And what's done is done. So what if FEAST appeared in 2005 rather than 2004 or 2003? We have it now!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
As a writer myself... (Not a pro like you!) I am one of your BIGGEST defenders! I know how it is. Life happens and stuff happens and sometimes you just want to watch tv or work on something else.

I'm 100% behind you! You do what you need to do and I will be here when you finish!

Sansa has been moved to the next book?! Oh Noes! Hopefully Sandor (in some form - priestly or otherwise) will be in this book at least! (she says hopefully)

I love hearing about it and I get excited when I see that you have posted!

Thanks so much for doing this. It is great to hear from you.

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Can I just say that I think you should finish the book when you are ready and when you think it's as good as you can make it.

And if anyone's a genuine fan of your work, they'll be happy to wait for as long as you need. I read your subsequent post and am disgusted that you'd be getting abuse for taking the time you need to write a book.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
Here's another fan throwing in his thanks. Your stories are amazing and wonderful, and I'll gladly keep waiting until they're ready.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Take as long as you want! It's your story to tell. Things don't always happen the way we meant them to.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
You're an artist, not a robot. Like ol' Ricky says, "You can't please everybody..." (LOVE Ricky Nelson BTW, great song on your most recent blog).

Please, just keep doing the magic that you do so well. I would gladly wait years more for a story that comes from your heart than have a rushed shell of a story tomorrow.

Some people are impatient and I suspect they just don't understand the writing process. They must think great writing just "happens"...in reality it is meticulously sculpted and fine tuned many times. I'd like to see them try to write something interesting AND 900+ pages long. They remind me of someone who goes to a fine restaurant, orders the rack of lamb and chocolate souffle, and then complains when it doesn't show up in "burgers and fries" time.

You finish it the way it SHOULD be done (however long that has to be) and the REAL fans will be there to read it!

And PLEASE- take breaks! Great ideas come to you when you relax, not when you're staring at a PC screen for weeks on end! Have a beer and watch the game or whatever else you do to unwind. Write for the love of the world you've created, not to please some really selfish people.

Keep on Keepin' on :D

(On a side note, I am very honored you took the time to read my email about our lil Summer pup. Thank you for posting it on your site and thank you even more for the well wishes! It was so sweet...and I won't deny it totally boosted my husband's and my geek status with our friends, hee hee. Summer's grown up well and I'll send an update one of these days!)

Edited at 2009-02-20 03:31 am (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
You, sir, officially remain The Man, and I understand Samuel L. Jackson weeps himself to sleep knowing that so long as you live, he will always be second place.

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
I just want to say that my Husband and I LOVE A Song of Ice and Fire, and that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Yes, the anticipation is kind of killing me, but I'd rather have your best work than something sloppy and rushed! So by all means, take the time you need!

You're awesome, and I know when Dance With Dragons is done and published, it will have been worth the wait!

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
I tried to explain this a bit in my own journal when I read your most recent entry, since you disabled comments but the post got me all pissy. Then I came down to this one, so I'll repeat part of it here:

You've been working on this story for years. I cannot imagine that your priorities would not occasionally shift to other projects or interests. You have nothing to apologize for.

My suspicion is that a great deal of the people emailing you nasty things are doing so mostly for the thrill of being able to have some sort of effect on a famous person. If I'm correct, you're probably going to receive another slew of negative emails every time you hint that it might be getting to you. It really sucks, and I'm sorry. My hope is that you can still read and absorb the positive, which I'm sure still vastly outnumbers the negative, as well. If you're like most people, you probably skim over that stuff and feel a little better, only to have one well-worded bit of nastiness bring you back down again.

You were right above; you can only please yourself. But for the record, you've ALREADY pleased your fans. Even if you never finish the series, you wrote something so freaking good that your reader experiences culture shock when they put down the book and blink around their living room. That's not nothing. You're fine. Go do something you enjoy and remember that we all have, you know, ALL THE OTHER STUFF IN OUR LIVES to get us through the anxiety of waiting for the next book. :P
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Well, if it helps any, I didn't know who you were when I friended you and I read your LJ because you are friends with nihilistic_kid. All my friends recommend that I should read you, and I definitely plan on doing it eventually though.

But I like your football entries.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
I appreciate the update.
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George R.R. Martin
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