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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.


Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
I don't think the concern should be...
... that Mr. Martin isn't working 20 hour days to grind out a book as quickly as possible in order to mollify the impatient. Besides being silly, this ignores the basic realities of writing, chief among them being 'it comes when it comes'. Writing a thousand or a billion words doesn't get you to a hundred good ones with any more regularity or alacrity.

I think the concern should be that, regardless of how long it takes, there is an incredibly real likelihood the book is going to be a disappointment, and the longer things drag on the more likely it becomes that should the series even be finished at all, it will go out with a whimper rather than with a roar.

I want the book to be done, whenever that is. I want it to be as compelling as I thought the first three in the series were. I have all four of them in hardcover, a couple in paperback, and all of them in audiobook form, even. My concern is that any author, or even any professional, begins at some point to, to borrow a sports phrase, 'lose their fastball'. I am not an expert on literary history, so if there is a trend I am unaware of I freely admit that ignorance here, but are there a bunch of authors who do their best work past the age of 60? Mayhap there is a reason for that beyond age, then again...

Be that as it may, I found even the fourth book in the series to begin to groan under the weight of the world it represented. It was still a very good book, just less so than it's three older siblings. I see many of the same problems that plagued the Wheel of Time as it wobbled precariously through books 7, 8, 9, and so on beginning to crop up here. As the point of views become more diffuse and the 'size' of the world broadens, the sheer volume of the plot becomes ponderous to shift, a herd of buffalo thousands strong being guided across an endless plain by one lone shepherd, afoot.

So, I have nothing for Mr. Martin but the best of wishes. As someone who has derived hours upon hours of pleasure from his works I can only be hopeful that I will find similar joy in his future works, whenever they may be forthcoming.

And yet... I fear.


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

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