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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.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ALL FIVE SEASONS AND READ ALL FIVE BOOKS, STOP HERE!

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)).

Comments

( 1015 comments )
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gonzagylot00
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
It's okay :)
Even if Winds of Winter had come out before the show, there's no way that the seventh book would have been out before the show hits 7 or 8 seasons.

Do it your way, main man!
Jay Bryner
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
Don't sweat it George
You kick ass. You don't owe us anything. Keep on rockin' in the free world.
Robin Cameron
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC)
From a writer...
Hi, George,

I'm a writer (unpublished) and am currently working on four books. However, if I were in your shoes. there would be little chance I could manage my writing schedule on top of other projects. Writers are not machines, they are people too, and each goes at his or her own pace. People need to understand this.

It's just like Neil Gaiman said, "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch!"

Good luck, man!

Robin
harryberger89
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:55 pm (UTC)
Winds of Winter
Would rather read the book the way you want it finished, just because something is rushed does not equal a good product so take your time. Is the cover art pictured in the blog above the final copy?
Michael Webster
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks for writing this George. I seriously google The Winds of Winter every week hoping to see news. Its hard to be patient but i understand. I'll be here waiting for as long as it takes.
April Hill
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC)
Some fans
Yes. You do have a population of very shitty fans. It takes a certain size balls to open up like you did last night and I appreciate it. I initially said to take your time, but it's not my place to tell you how to do your work. Nor anyone else's. I will suggest, however, that you enjoy it, because otherwise what's the point? To hell with deadlines and what may or may not happen in the show. We'll read it when it's done, and damnit, we'll be happy!
AC Smith
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC)
Timing
I came to the books AFTER the first season of the series (for some reason I still can't fully explain, my attention had turned out of genre for close to three decades after having spent the first seasons of my life immersed up to my scalp follicles in hard SF and fantasy).
Of course, I quickly caught up, then blew past the show.
I confess: I went through a period of time when I was pretty pissed off about what I perceived (because it's all about ME, don't you know) as a failure to focus and concentrate on GRRM's part. I got over it. Surprisingly, it strikes me you have every right to be a human -- a remarkably creative human with, as you say, many balls in the air. Thanks for taking me all the way 'round the horn and back to honor and respect. That simple thing that all of us in this life deserve.
Oh, and take all the time you need. We may go ahead and start partying without you. But you'll be most welcome when you arrive with that sonofabitch under your arm.
Happy New Years.

Nicolas D'Amico
Jan. 2nd, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC)
Don't be depressed George! Your awesome and we love you!
Alena Dubrovina
Jan. 2nd, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC)
Take your time
Take your time, George! WE ARE READY TO WAIT!
We know when it's released, it will be magnificent.
We will wait as long as it takes, even if it will take another year or two.
Just know your true fans are with you and wish you all the best!
Stay healthy and don't be upset.
Brian Rugh
Jan. 2nd, 2016 08:08 pm (UTC)
Dax says - forget about deadlines and expectations!
Sabeen Rizvi
Jan. 2nd, 2016 08:10 pm (UTC)
I'm with some of the other folks on here, waiting is alright if it means the book will be as good as (or possibly even better than) the other ones!
lydiaclark211
Jan. 2nd, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
You can do this!
You have the skills, which I admire. Think of 500 words a day that can triple or more when the muse is ignited. I will wait patiently.
Diego_AOS_
Jan. 3rd, 2016 05:16 am (UTC)
Thank you for this honest post. I can definitely wait, I've been waiting since ADWD, I cant wait a little bit more. Keep on the hard work and don't rush it, I apreciate quality over time. I know you can definitely deliver an incredible book, but I also know that takes time.

As for the show, it's been so different this season, I don't really care for probable "spoilers" or whatsoever.
matiancai74
Jan. 3rd, 2016 05:18 am (UTC)
K.B.O. (Keep Buggering On)
TV show brought me to the books and now I am half-way through book 4. Enjoying it immensely. Best I've read in a long time. Good luck with book 6 - we have faith in you and can patiently wait. All the best for 2016!
Sagar Mehta
Jan. 3rd, 2016 05:23 am (UTC)
Time
I dont mind how long the book takes to be written. Take your time and give us the best one yet!
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( 1015 comments )

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