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Last Year (Winds of Winter)

The last post from the Lost Post, and the one you've all been waiting for.

Back when this was one long long long post, before Live Journal sent it to the cornfield, I mentioned opening with Dickens' line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So it was for me in 2015. I've spent much of the day recreating (in Cliff's Note summaries) my own personal "best of times" from the previous year, all the wonderful things that went down for me in 2015, the awards and the publications and the bestseller lists, the cons and the parties, the travel, all the exciting new projects underway at HBO and right here down the street in Santa Fe. But inevitably that brings me to my own personal "worst of times," and that is considerably less fun to blog about, so do forgive my reluctance to do so.

You wanted an update. Here's the update. You won't like it.

THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.

Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You're disappointed, and you're not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed... but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, "I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER" on or before the last day of 2015.

But the book's not done.

Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there's a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those 'no pages done' reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there's also a lot still left to write. I am months away still... and that's if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't.) Chapters still to write, of course... but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.

I suppose I could just say, "Sorry, boys and girls, still writing," and leave it at that. "It will be done when it's done." Which is what I have been doing, more or less, since... well, forever. But with season 6 of GAME OF THRONES approaching, and so many requests for information boiling up, I am going to break my own rules and say a little more, since it would appear that hundreds of my readers, maybe thousands or tens of thousands, are very concerned about this question of 'spoilers" and the show catching up, revealing things not yet revealed in the books, etc.

My publishers and I have been cognizant of these concerns, of course. We discussed some of them last spring, as the fifth season of the HBO series was winding down, and came up with a plan. We all wanted book six of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to come out before season six of the HBO show aired. Assuming the show would return in early April, that meant THE WINDS OF WINTER had to be published before the end of March, at the latest. For that to happen, my publishers told me, they would need the completed manuscript before the end of October. That seemed very do-able to me... in May. So there was the first deadline: Halloween.

Unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked. You can blame my travels or my blog posts or the distractions of other projects and the Cocteau and whatever, but maybe all that had an impact... you can blame my age, and maybe that had an impact too...but if truth be told, sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn't, and that was true for me even when I was in my 20s. And as spring turned to summer, I was having more bad days than good ones. Around about August, I had to face facts: I was not going to be done by Halloween. I cannot tell you how deeply that realization depressed me.

Early August saw me back east for my nephew's wedding and an appearance with the Staten Island Direwolves. I took advantage of the visit to have another sit down with my editors and publishers and told them that I didn't think I could deliver by Halloween. I thought they'd be sick about it... but I have to say, my editors and publishers are great, and they took it with surprising equanimity. (Maybe they knew it before I did). They already had contigencies in place. They had made plans to speed up production. If I could deliver WINDS OF WINTER by the end of the year, they told me, they could still get it our before the end of March.

I was immensely relieved. I had two whole extra months! I could make that, certainly. August was an insane month, too much travel, too many other obligations... but I'd have September, October, and now November and December as well. Once again I was confident I could do it.

Here it is, the first of January. The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES premieres in April (mid April, we are now told, not early April, but those two weeks will not save me). Even as late as my birthday and our big Emmy win, I still thought I could do it... but the days and weeks flew by faster than the pile of pages grew, and (as I often do) I grew unhappy with some of the choices I'd made and began to revise... and suddenly it was October, and then November... and as the suspicion grew that I would not make it after all, a gloom set in, and I found myself struggling even more. The fewer the days, the greater the stress, and the slower the pace of my writing became.

Look, I have always had problems with deadlines. For whatever reason, I don't respond well to them. Back in November, when I returned to Northwestern to accept my Alumni Award, I told the Medill students that was why I started writing fiction instead of getting a job on a newspaper. I knew even then that daily deadlines would kill me. That was a joke, of course... but there was truth in it too. I wrote my first novel, DYING OF THE LIGHT, without a contract and without a deadline. No one even knew I was writing a novel until I sent the completed book to Kirby to sell. I wrote FEVRE DREAM the same way. I wrote THE ARMAGEDDON RAG the same way. No contracts, no deadlines, no one waiting. Write at my own pace and deliver when I'm done. That's really how I am most comfortable, even now.

But I won't make excuses. There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO, not David & Dan. It's on me. I tried, and I am still trying. I worked on the book a couple of days ago, revising a Theon chapter and adding some new material, and I will writing on it again tomorrow. But no, I can't tell you when it will be done, or when it will be published. Best guess, based on our previous conversations, is that Bantam (and presumably my British publisher as well) can have the hardcover out within three months of delivery, if their schedules permit. But when delivery will be, I can't say. I am not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over. The deadlines just stress me out.

I am going back to my stance from last March, before all this. It will be done when it's done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.

Having said all that, I know what the next question will be, because hundreds of you have already asked it of me. Will the show 'spoil' the novels?

Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that... hey, that's up to you. Look, I read Andy Weir's novel THE MARTIAN before I saw the movie. But I saw the BBC production of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL before I finally got around to reading Susanna Clarke's novel. In both cases, I loved the book and I loved the adaptation. It does not need to be one or the other. You might prefer one over the other, but you can still enjoy the hell out of both.

Of course, there's an aspect to our situation that did not apply to either the Weir or Clarke cases. Those novels were finished before they were optioned, adapted, and filmed. The case of GAME OF THRONES and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is perhaps unique. I can't think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written. So when you ask me, "will the show spoil the books," all I can do is say, "yes and no," and mumble once again about the butterfly effect. Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all... because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.


Just consider. Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes... but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways. Balon Greyjoy, on the flip side, is dead in the books, alive on the show. His brothers Euron Crow's Eye and Victarion have not yet been introduced (will they appear? I ain't saying). Meanwhile Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING.

GAME OF THRONES is the most popular television series in the world right now. The most pirated as well. It just won a record number of Emmy Awards, including the ultimate prize, for the best drama on television. It's an incredible production with an incredible cast and crew.

WINDS OF WINTER should be pretty good too, when it comes out. As good as I can make it, anyway.

Which is a long way of saying, "How may children did Scarlett O'Hara have?"

Enjoy the show. Enjoy the books.

Meanwhile, I'll keep writing. Chapter at a time. Page at a time. Word at a time. That's all I know how to do.

((And yes, this is my final Cliff's Note for the day. You can all go to bed now)).


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Ammar Rajab
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
Thank you
Thanks for the update, it takes as long as it takes, you can't rush art, here from Syria telling you give us the WINDS OF WINTER we are waiting for ,it doesn't matter if it takes a year or ten.
James Garcia
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
The Book
I'm glad you're not letting anyone rush you! I think the book would suffer if you felt forced to write. Keep doing what you're doing! While I can't wait for the book to come out and I will watch season 6 as it airs, I will still be waiting in line to purchase The Winds of Winter on release day and I'm sure I will gobble it up like candy. Just do the best you can and Happy New Year!
Mikko Mustajrvi
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
Well, I am happy you got out of the "no information" -land. I will much rather read an update like this where you honestly tell how it is than know nothing and keep on guessing. Keep up the good work and toss us an update every now and then on how you are doing.
Sei Alarcn
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to inform us about this. Please don't be disappointed at yourself. Writing is hard, and more if it's about an amazing and complex saga like yours; it's hard enough without adding the pressure of impatient fans. Take your time to make a good job, one which satisfy yourself first of all. Don't worry about us, we can wait.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
Go George
This post was hard to read, not because I'm disappointed there won't be a winds of winter before the T.V show but because you feel you have let people down. That must have been hard to write. You are an incredible person and I am so grateful for the gift of writing you have given us. This TV show introduced me to my favourite author and all the projects he does,I hadn't heard of the book series untill series 1 then I read all the books, I always enjoy the books so much more. I'd much rather read the next book only when the author was happy than it be rushed for a deadline. Creativity can not be forced. So yes I will watch the next series but it won't make me any less excited about WOW as there are so many differences and details left out in the tv series. George you are awesome, you shouldn't be forced to such deadlines and pressures. I hope 2016 brings you all the happiness you wish for.
Kirstie McStay
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:36 am (UTC)
Aw, you sound so sad! I've never commented before but after reading that I feel the need to say something encouraging!
You tried your best and that's all anyone can ask of you. I would rather wait and read something amazing that you are totally happy with, than something rushed just to get all those monkeys off your back lol
I hope you feel better soon, without a deadline looming over you. Remember you can't make everyone happy, you're not a jar of nutella ;)
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:38 am (UTC)
We can wait. I really thank you for update. Don't let it make the book be less than perfect, as it always was. And as I'm sure it'll.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:40 am (UTC)
Take your time GRRM, i'm still in Feast of Crows, so have enough time to catch up! 😁
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for the update
Really appreciate the update George, I can imagine that must have been extremely difficult to write for multiple reasons.

It is really gutting to hear that we still have a way to wait but it is good to know I can rest my anticipation for a number of months and probably a lot of other fans as well.

I started as a TV show fan first, watched Season 1 and 2 before moving to the books, probably like a lot of other fans, and reading the first two books wasn’t ruined at all if anything it made me grow to love this world you created even more. Looks like it is back to the TV shows first and even though I may have a good idea about some plotlines I will still be pre-ordering my book for Day One!

There of course will be a lot of us who are really disappointed, especially those who have been following the books since 1996. I am sure you will get some crazy fans who vent at you but behind the wave of disappointment and craziness try to find what a huge compliment it is to your work. This world you created has a number of us spending countless hours in it, reading it, buying more material, discussing it, etc etc.. I have bought the calendars, the short stories, reread the books, watched the TV shows countless times, I sit on fan sites reading the theories and I will be one of many many fans who do that!

There is another book series I read, which I thoroughly enjoyed with another book coming eventually but it is a fleeting thought as to when it is released (probably after I think about TWOW). The author has short stories in the world and it is still on the to do list to read them but it doesn’t have the draw like Westeros does. That is not against the author but again a huge compliment to your work. I can’t wait for the next 2 books but I also feel the same about your short stories, I need more Dung & Egg!! I am one of many who feel this, so when you get the wave of responses today positive and negative, please try to remember the true reason why and maybe you can take some heart from it and power on without the deadline pressure.

I hope you can remove the ‘depressed’ mood and have a great 2016.

Edited at 2016-01-02 11:46 am (UTC)
vladimir prodanovic
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:42 am (UTC)
Not your regular pat on the shoulder
Dear Mr. Martin,
You are a big thing in my life. When i started reading your books i started measuring everything else i red according to ASOIAF monumental standard. This I think was a mistake. It did turn me into a snobby reader, but i got over it. Fanfiction as well as the regular one, it all deserves a chance. I gave "A feast for Crows", a good stern pass. I liked the Chtulu vikings, i liked the characters. But the letdown of "The Dance with Dragons"... my god i raged. This let me down even more than the end of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" epic SF adventure. I get it, you are fed up to your eye balls with fans, the hype, the show, I can't even imagine the stress, it has become a damned task, a Damocles sword. And this book whatever its ending is, it won't please. The show has its goals, the book has a life on its own, it is pulling you apart and the story is suffering. I don't know, i won't say thank you or something similar like you need pity or assurance. You are a man and you made this thing larger than life, and that in itself is something only a handful of people do. As i do in my job. Head up, ass down and do it. Make it your own again, restrain it and make it do your bidding.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:43 am (UTC)
It'll be fine
George, you do you. When the book comes out we'll devour it. In the meantime we'll wait. Don't worry about it.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:43 am (UTC)
Nice to be updated George, cant wait for WoW still. Would rather you take your time than be rushed 👍
Katrice Thomas Leach
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:43 am (UTC)
Thank You
That can't have been much fun to write. However, following all of these blog posts today has been a little like Christmas all over again. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the little tidbits of life that you've shared with us today. I may never have the pleasure of meeting you in person, but I feel like we all know you a little better today. Do your thing, Mr. Martin. Patiently waiting... Thank you! ❤
Jeremy Szal
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:45 am (UTC)
That's how it is
Mr. Martin, we're all waiting. We have been for years and continue to do so. And I'm happy to do it and I suspect many others will as well. Because for the simple fact that it is *your* franchise. You created it. You've shared it with us, but it's your creation and it needs to be done in your own time. As you well know, it's going to stand up as one of the most hyped books of the 21st century, and it's going to be judged by many, many people.

I cannot imagine anything worse than something that is rushed out the door just to meet demands.

So yes, I am willing to wait. Next year or the one after that, I can wait. You need to do what you need to do, and it's as simple as that. The rest of us can shut up and let you deliver your artistic vision in your own pace. We're just lucky enough to see it.

Jaideep Sen
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:47 am (UTC)
You're the best, thank you!
You're the absolute best, plain and simple. We love you. Thank you!
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George R.R. Martin
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