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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 02:55 pm (UTC)
I've never commented on your journal before, but your last post and this post made me want to reach out and say that I think you are a very talented writer and I, for one, am glad that you are doing things that refresh and revive you creatively, rather than slogging straight through to create a book that you are not 100% happy with.
I am patient and awaiting DWD eagerly. And I have every confidence that when it arrives, it will be all the better for coming from someone who watches NFL, gets excited about miniatures and occasionally takes a leak.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
Indeed, George. Garden Party is so fitting. Please yourself, because I know you want to write the best books possible.

Feb. 20th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
I had to comment again because I'm so angry...

Do these people who send you rude emails realize that it takes time out of your day (and possibly time away from writing your book) when you have to read them all? And having to write these long explanations to people constantly also takes time away?

And now my comment has taken time away too! Sorry. ;)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Don't rush, and don't listen to the haters
George, we love you series to death, and as far as I'm concerned, you can take as much time as you need to finish it. Rushing a novel as complex as yours are is dangerous. We'll all still be here when you're done, and you won't here a single comment from me about being annoyed with the wait. Waiting is part of the fun.

Had the internet been around when Tolkien was writing and rewriting Lord of the Rings, he would have seen the same pressure. :)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
You are worth the time it takes.
Hater Trolls. They infest like unwanted roaches you see in Gordon Ramsey's "kitchen nightmares". I believe sir you deserve to live your life however you want, you've certainly earned it. For people who read your work, you would think they would have mature outlook on how you life and enjoy your life. For the amount of enjoyable your books are to us, patience shouldnt be a problem as your books do not grow old. ever. Keeping on trucking sir, i as a fan have all the time in in the world to wait on your masterpieces. cheers
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
Take heart and really sorry for all of the negativity spewing forth
Please keep up the wonderful work in all of your books and keep living the life that fuels the imagination that results in your work! It must be incredibly hard to have so much negativity spewed forth onto you and about you, but there are those who just wish you the very best and happily await more tales. And, as with most things in life, the satisfied happy customer rarely makes a fuss. So maybe we should take the time and make the effort to spread some positivity around because we really do appreciate the worlds that you've birthed, the characters that inhabit them, and the tales that you've told. We might be greedily awaiting more of them, but that doesn't diminish the respect and appreciation for those that came before!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds like people sure have been real assholes to you. Sounds like probably those people should to some extent get a life and be happy that you're bothering at all to give them something that they want to see. I want to read the book, I'll be really excited when it comes out, but in the meantime, there's a lot of other stuff in this world I want and need and should do instead.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
Dear George,
I read this journal every day, though I have never posted here. I enjoy your posts on every subject (even though I haven't read all of your works and I don't like football) but the trolls that sometimes wander around your blog irritate me beyond words. They have to be the most annoying, unbelievably rude people in the internet. Don't let them spoil your days!
And for the 260th time today... we will wait for your books for as long as it takes. Cheer up!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
I was one of the "haters" and I am so, so, sorry, I just love your series, it is so captivating that I can't wait to get more of it. But you are absolutely correct, you have a whole life other than A Dance and every right to enjoy it, travel, frolic and be merry, I've waited the short, I can wait the long, I don't like it when you are "depressed", take your time and do your thing, God bless you!
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
Keep on keepin' on, man. If it takes extra time to make something with which you're truly happy (while still living a good life with your family and friends, the importance of which people always neglect), you have to take that time.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Why not make your raders happy?
Dear George,

I hope you can find the time to read this.

First of all, thank you very much for the update. It is much appreciated. I am certainly one of those people getting more and more anxious to receive updates and that final "book is finished" update.

Anyway, I think most of us understand the difficulties of keeping deadlines and of run away projects. But, I believe bothers us the most is the constant quiet, without any updates. We love your book so much we practically start salivating as soon as you just mention the book title. Why not give us more of that? The more you write about Dance the happier we will be. Even short two sentence updates every couple of weeks would be enough.

We'd also appreciate more updates on the TV series. See how easy it would be to make us happy?:) And when we're happy, I'm sure you're happy:)

But then, if you do that, why not try making us even happier, loving you even more. Why not do something that will make us all jump when the book is published and rush out to buy it?

Perhaps publishing a new chapter (or 1/2 of it, or 1/4, or ...) every couple of weeks, leading to the publishing date?

Better yet, why not make us really happy and give us all the 50 first pages of the book in PDF?

And if you really want to get crazy and even make some extra money, why not publish the first 100 pages and sell them for ... let's say $10. I'm sure that most of us, your fans, would rush ahead and pay. And then once you publish the real thing we'd buy that as well.

Would the publisher mind? Not neccessarily, if they understood this will only generate more book sales in the end. Hell, you could even share the PDF sales 50:50 if them.

Of course, if you also involved the publisher in the campaign things could really go wild. For example giving the 100 page PDF only to those of your fans that write a short paragraph on why they love Song and forward it via your website to at least 5 friends. Yeah, might sound like cheezy marketing, but it works.

The publisher could go even further, establishing a Dance website to share spoilers, invite avid readers to predict what's going to happen, invite readers to submit short Song universe stories, hold contests, invite artists to do some artwork, perhaps even a contest for the best artwork to then be published in the book. There are really countless opportunities.

I'm also a huge Frank Herbert fan, and it really hurt to see what his Dune legacy has turned in to. But still we read those books and bought them. And it's far better to have read them and be somewhat unhappy than not to have read them at all. BUT what really ruined it for us, the readers, was the attitude of the authors who never even wanted to openly discuss the issues, provide explanations or do really anything for the fans of the "old" Dune. Now, you're not in that kind of position as everyone loves your work ... but the lack of communication is killing us a little.

Anyway, good luck with the rest of the book, and I'm really hoping to be able to pick it up on my October trip to the US.

All the best,
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
It could always be worse
Before I start, I think I should add that I've posted on the blogs here maybe once or twice and emailed Martin about the same amount of times over the past 10 years or so.

The Website is georgerrmartin.com, not asongoficeandfire.com. That means, to me, it's about the author, not the series (though of course the site is largely devoted to the series, as it should be).

Having said that, when I surf to the site, I do so to find out the latest news on the Song's progress — whether it's calendars, games, miniatures, the HBO series and other things. Still, it's mostly to see how the next book's coming along. It's not that I have anything against the other works. I'm sure they're great, but going months without any word on the Song's progress can be frustrating. So, I can sympathize with some of the detractors — though they should keep the derogatory comments to themselves.

Personally, I don't see how Martin manages all the things that are going on. Seems like quite a headache. I think most of us have an idea of an author as someone who retreats into the mountains and stays in a log cabin — a virtual hermit who devotes ALL his time and energy to his work and doesn't emerge until it's done. That's a nice thought, but unrealistic. Just imagine all the good food you'd be missing out on.

Gotta take the good with the bad — that goes for all of us. One of the most ironic things I've found about writing is that a work that may take years for an author to create can take only a day for someone else to read. It takes me months to get through a book. I'm a very slow reader and don't mind taking my time enjoying the details...unless the details are entirely pointless and don't contribute to the work, but that's not been the case with Song for me.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have a popular series with legions of fans. I've got my own universe and story that's been developing over the past 25 years. But, frankly, the thought of sending any of the stories off to a publishing company scares the crap out of me. I'm never satisfied with what I've written. I don't know how it would affect me if the publisher/editor sent a story back to me with a red F on it (yeah, yeah, I know that's not how it works, but you get what I'm saying). And if it took off, I don't know how I'd handle people telling me what should happen and how I should write in MY universe. I guess you can call me selfish in that regard.

So, to the detractors — I sympathize with you, but get the f$#@ over it. It's not your damn story, and you should feel fortunate we even have such a fantastic series to read. And to Mr. Martin, take as much time to make the best damn novel you can, but please try and keep us updated with progress fairly regularly.

Good gawd, I'm long winded somtimes.

Peace to the brothas.
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm from Spain and I've created this account only to write this message, giving you my entire support. It's unbelieveable how people can e-mail you saying such things, they should be nothing but grateful for the great time they've passed reading the previous novels. I know a lot of spanish fans, (me included xD), that consider you a demigod. We love you Mr Martin!
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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