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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.


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,


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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