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)).
300 likes ·   •  66 comments  •  flag
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Published on January 01, 2016 23:22
Comments Showing 1-50 of 66 (66 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by aprille (new)

aprille This post makes me want to give you a hug. We're all loyal readers and I'm sure we'd rather wait and have a fantastic, epic read when you're happy with the book. Good luck with the writing, sending good vibes your way.

message 2: by Greg (new)

Greg Okay George, I'll let it go this time. It's okay, you've given us so much so it is only fair that we give you our patience. As long it doesn't end with Bob Newhart bolting upright in bed claiming he had the 'strangest dream', I will be happy. All the best.

message 3: by Moonsong (new)

Moonsong Read this post first thing as soon as I woke up and switched on the pc. Needless to be said it was a very rough awakening. My first reaction was incredulity, followed swiftly by rage. Sorry. I guess I love the world s you create too much. It's like cutting a piece of my life in half, and it has been in stasis for ages now, which is why I feel like I can't take it any more. Obviously I will have to lol. Just not gracefully ;-p

message 4: by Payal (new)

Payal Niharika And even if we have to wait for 100 years, we would. Because we know it would be every bit worth it.

message 5: by Manveer (new)

Manveer That'a a bummer.

message 6: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid Thank you for letting us know! You've transformed so many dull mornings, evenings and even days and weeks into pure magic for so many readers all over the world and we can only be extremely grateful. How can we possibly be mad and disappointed of you? That's just outrageous! I myself feel so relieved that you couldn't make it. It sounds a bit weird, but I'd rather wait another 2 years to read a marvelous book, than have it in April, written poorly, not revised nor polished enough. I can only wish you to stay healthy and hope you still enjoy writing the book, in spite of all the pressure, because we, the readers, can sense that happiness and love of yours between the lines.

message 7: by danicatalyst (new)

danicatalyst It's okay to wait and read a well written book than to read a rushed and fail book. We're going to wait because we know that it's going to be worth it. :)

I hope you'll find every inspiration you need for WINDS OF WINTER. Have a happy new year, sir!

message 8: by Ben (new)

Ben Fleck Ohhh sadness. But still will be ready to read when it does indeed come out!

message 9: by Gal (new)

Gal Yaish We've been waiting this long, we could wait just a little more. In my opinion, the longer it takes, the better it will be when i hold the book in my hands. That'll be a time to rembmer :)

message 10: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa Ah, what a shame. But no need to get depressed! You're the author of one of the most amazing epic fantasy novels ever written, so you if anyone are allowed to take their time. And I'm pretty sure most of your fans will understand how terrifing those deadlines can be and how they can affect ones writing. So, you just do you and make sure you write a novel YOU are pleased with! :)

message 11: by Zeeshan (new)

Zeeshan Mahmood Thanks GRRM. We can wait. Take your time. :)

message 12: by Arctialuna (new)

Arctialuna I can wait 2 more years if needed. Don't need to rush it, I'm just sorry you feel bad for not having it ready in time when writing a book shouldn't have to have a deadline. Take your time, we will be here, you fans, whenever it will be published :)

message 13: by Apsalar (new)

Apsalar I can wait not a fan of the tv show. Better to finish it the way you want than to rush it just because some kids have no patience

message 14: by Diana (new)

Diana I can wait for the book whatever it takes, but it will be difficult to avoid all the spoilers till then...

message 15: by Ben (new)

Ben Thank you Mr. Martin for setting our expectations.

message 16: by Helen (new)

Helen I can wait, you are worth it, hug from me too.

message 17: by eleonora - (new)

eleonora - I can wait for the book for years, but you know there's no way we can avoid spoilers from the tv series, even if we don't watch it everyone is going to talk about it. I'm so disappointed that I can't enjoy the books without people telling me everything...

The tv show should just talk about things that already happened in the books and they avoided talking about. (CAT??)

message 18: by Cristina (new)

Cristina Ésto me parece ya una tomadura de pelo.

message 19: by Yasmin (new)

Yasmin Halliwell Fraser Bower *crawls in a hole to cry and wait*

message 20: by Daniela (last edited Jan 02, 2016 06:16AM) (new)

Daniela Caris To be honest I can't say I'm surprised :) I'm not even dissapointed. I'm just grateful you took the time to write this and explain everything to us. We love your books and we will always love them. We will be here and wait patiently until the book is done, until YOU say it is done and you can be proud of what will be published.
In April I am going to enjoy the tv show like I always have and this time, instead of being surprised about the changes the tv show makes, I will be surprised about the changes the book makes when it is published.
All we can do is give you all the time you need and be grateful for the amazing world you have created for all of us! Thank you! And happy new year!

message 21: by Elisa Santos (new)

Elisa Santos No worries; this wil give me time to re-read all of them.

Take your time and writte something that will amaze us all.

message 22: by Adara (new)

Adara Don't worry George, we'll all just wait, as is proper. I doubt the show will surpass the books in depth. The rabid fans need to get off your back and learn to be reasonable. Good luck with the writing. We're all rooting for you.

message 23: by Shellie (new)

Shellie Taylor I have to say my first reaction was "You had time to read and watch Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but didn't have time to write??? That book is the size of a dictionary!" But I have since calmed myself down. I was debating whether or not to watch the show before the book came out but spoilers will abound whether I wait or not (thanks to that hateful thing called social media), so I might as well divulge. I've already accepted that the show and books are two different entities. I've waited since 2011, I guess I can wait a little longer. Good luck George!

message 24: by Davide (new)

Davide I'm sure the wait is going to be worth it :)

message 25: by Joan (new)

Joan Take all the time you need, it'll be worth it.

message 26: by Liz (new)

Liz Please take your time and write something that makes you happy. In our world of instant gratification, we sometimes forget how much time goes into crafting something worthwhile. Thank you for giving us all kinds of wonderful stories and I hope you enjoy your time creating them.

message 27: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Thank you George

message 28: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Everyone needs to get off your butt :D We'll get it when we get it. Happy writing!

message 29: by Ahimsa (new)

Ahimsa Writing is hard.

We are lucky to have your books. I for one will try to avoid the show and the spoilers but Star Wars was spoiled for me and I still enjoyed it. Plus most of the characters I care about aren't even in the show.

message 30: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Take your time George -- we know the finished product will be well worth it!

message 31: by Lisazj1 (new)

Lisazj1 I don't think any reader has the right to be angry at how long a writer takes to write, however impatient we are to read. You can't rush creativity. If you try, you usually end up with something that NO ONE is happy with. I'd rather wait and read your best book that you can write.

I don't think you owe any justification to your readers but thanks for taking the time.

message 32: by Lemniscat (new)

Lemniscat Take your time - miracles do not happen in a little while! Meanwhile, we will all have other books to read but we do however anticipate a good book!

Michelle Only Wants to Read I'll read it when it comes out. Who am I to demand stuff from a writer? lol. Plus, it'll give me a chance to revisit the books again and rediscover the story. I'm good at waiting :)

message 34: by Novita (new)

Novita Raini Sir, please consider my comment as a virtual hug for you (or high five, or a pat on the back, or even handshake if you're not into hugs). Just so you know, me and a lot of my friends who aren't in goodreads will wait for your book no matter how long it will takes for you to finished it. Take your time, Sir. Just know that we love you and your books. We are lucky enough to exist at the same time as you, and please take care of your health too.

message 35: by Nicole (last edited Jan 02, 2016 10:43AM) (new)

Nicole I love you George, don't stress! It's a shame that you had to write this but nonetheless I want you to know I am happy either way, whether I read it first or see the show... writing "The Winds of Winter" should be a joy for you and not become a burden with deadlines looming on the horizon. The true fans understand that good things come to those who wait!

message 36: by TuezdayMorning (new)

TuezdayMorning I love your books! Take all the time you need. Don't rush, don't stress about stupid deadlines (those are about money, marketing, publishing etc) which don't make a difference anyway. When it is done and published you can be sure I, for one, will be thrilled! Until then, it is great to have something so exciting to look forward to. Happy New Year to you and yours! May it be filled with peace and joy!

message 37: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra ok i get it , i want the book to be as good as it's been so far but sorry if the show takes the lead i don't see the point in me spending money on this book anymore ... call me a hater but thats what happens when you already see the stories unfold beforehand

message 38: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Pedersen Of course I'm disappointed, but please don't let your fans control the world you introduced to us.

message 39: by Yann (new)

Yann When you consider that AGoT came out in '96, and it took 6yrs for ADwD to come out after AFoC, I'm not sure why people are surprised it's going to take 5-6 yrs for TWoW to be released.
I started this series back in the late 90's.. I'm used to having to re-read it all before each new book.

message 40: by Sheneé (new)

Sheneé The show is awesome but I'm a word girl. I'll keep on reading your words as long as you keep writing them regardless of the show. I have no doubt that the two will wind up being different and I'm certain the books will be better...for me anyways. The picture I paint in my head as I read is always preferable to me.

message 41: by Holly (new)

Holly I would rather wait longer for the book and have it be spectacular rather reading a mediocre book that came out "quickly".

message 42: by jonah (new)

jonah I love how everyone on here is so much more supportive than on Facebook. Keep doing your thang, GRRM. I'm a pretty new fan (comparatively) but I love the world you've created and I'll wait as long as it takes, patiently. :-)

message 43: by Stig (new)

Stig Johansen Nothing wrong with waiting. So many other books to read in the meantime, anyway.

message 44: by Tania (new)

Tania Tomas It's fine by me. I still have to finish A Feast for Crows and start A Dance with Dragons. Take your time. I rather read a book that took time writting and that I will enjoy reading , than read one that was written under pression.

message 45: by Astaldo (new)

Astaldo This post remembers me how much I really don't care anymore. I understand that GRRM is trying and all that, and I wont say anything bad about him, but honestly 5 years between books just killed my interest.

Oh i will read it when it comes, but I just don't care that much about it.

message 46: by Seán (new)

Seán Downey Done caring at this stage, it's beyond a joke

message 47: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Mirus Femke wrote: "I can wait not a fan of the tv show. Better to finish it the way you want than to rush it just because some kids have no patience"

can't agree more, in fact i blame HBO and the publisher deadlines, killing the inspiration, for me he can take whatever it takes to deliver the last 2 books, i trust this man.

message 48: by Kara (last edited Jan 02, 2016 06:10PM) (new)

Kara Unlike a lot of people, I don't think you owe us anything! You're a human, not a robot. Who wants to spend all their time working? And writing is serious, taxing work. Time with friends, family, yourself, other deserve to live your life the way you want to...just like anyone else.

Happy New Year!

message 49: by Jane (new)

Jane nicely put.
take your time, we as your fans can wait. it's definitely better to have a book that screams with a quality writing and great story, than the one written quickly because of some deadline.
and yes, i agree - deadlines sometimes (mostly) are not a good thing. i would say that they kill inspiration and creativity.

good luck with your book and happy new year!

message 50: by shaymond (new)

shaymond I have always backed your position on the question of 'when is the next book gonna be finished?'. You are the writer, we are the reader. You write, we read. I can't imagine writing one 300 page novel, let alone a 1000 page book within an epic fantasy of 7 books. The challenge is daunting and I commend you upon all that you have written to date.

So, I say, take your time. Write the book how you want it to be. We will read it when it comes out.

The Show is the Show, and the Book is the Book.

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