A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Martin has broken the silence and released a new update on the progress of A Dance with Dragons on his 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.

I have made a lot of progress on the book since August 2007, but this part hasn’t changed:

Thanks for your continued support… and for your patience.

I’m thrilled to hear that the book is progressing, and my anticipation continues to build. Despite what anyone might say, A Song of Ice and Fire is not something that’s going to fall in place overnight. I wish George the best of luck in finishing the novel and making it the best he can. I sure as hell wouldn’t want him to rush it for the sake of his ‘fans’.

What’s more unsettling is his response to the recent blog posts concerning him and A Dance with Dragons:

I have to admit, the rising tide of venom about the lateness of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS has gotten pretty discouraging. Emails, message boards, blogs, LJ comments, everywhere I look (and lots of places where I don’t), people seem to be attacking me, defending me, using me as a bad example of something or other, whatever.

I can and do avoid most of the online discussions, although I do regularly get emails from people eager to point out the latest URL where DANCE and I are being hashed over. I can do that, and I can screen the trollish comments here on LJ, but there’s no avoiding the emails.

Some of you are angry about the miniatures, the swords, the resin busts, the games. You don’t want me “wasting time” on those, or talking about them here.

Some of you are angry that I watch football during the fall. You don’t want me “wasting time” on the NFL, or talking about it here.

Some of you hate my other projects. You don’t want me co-editing WARRIORS or the Vance anthology or STAR-CROSSED LOVERS or any of the other projects I’m doing with my old friend Gardner Dozois, and you get angry when I post about them here. For reasons I don’t quite comprehend, the people who hate those projects seem to hate WILD CARDS even more. You really don’t want me working on that, “wasting time” on that, and posting about it here.

Some of you don’t want me attending conventions, teaching workshops, touring and doing promo, or visiting places like Spain and Portugal (last year) or Finland (this year). More wasting time, when I should be home working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don’t want me to “pull a Robert Jordan” on you and deny you your book.

Okay, I’ve got the message. You don’t want me doing anything except A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Ever. (Well, maybe it’s okay if I take a leak once in a while?)

What makes me a little ashamed, though, is how heavily the venomous response of his ‘fanbase’ is wearing down on him – it’s frustrating that Martin’s so-called ‘fans’, the people who he’s writing for, are causing so much stress on the man. For A Song of Ice and Fire, and the fanbase it’s accrued, to be anything but a glowingly positive experience in Martin’s life is just wrong. I just hope that he knows that there are many of us out there willing to wait patiently as he takes the time to finish the novel.

  • Rob B February 20, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Thanks for posting this stuff Aidan. I don’t think GRRM has ever been anything but honest in all of his postings at not a blog.

    Add me to the “wait patiently” crowd.

  • Ben February 20, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Someone has actually emailed him and said that he is “sixty and fat?” That is just awful. Gosh.

  • hagelrat February 20, 2009 at 9:22 am

    sheesh. thanks for posting. I’ve never read grrm but i do feel that “write faster” should imply “because we love what you do” not “no really, why should we wait while you create. Pressure will be applied”.

  • dennis February 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I for one am happy to have an update of sorts… I have no problems with GRRM taking as much time as he needs, but sometimes I just like to know things are moving forward.

  • Eric February 22, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Thanks, Aidan, for posting these remarks from GRRM. It is great to know that this is moving forward. Some of the comments that are coming from so-called fans are simply atrocious and unfortunate. I will continue to wait patiently for the next installment, and I’m sure that it will turn out great if GRRM takes the time to do the job right.

  • Zoe February 22, 2009 at 2:34 am

    I’ll tell you what, if it was me I’d just be chuffed that so many people care about my story.

  • […] Sounds familiar, eh? […]

  • Charles March 9, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I am not one of those people who are full of venom and bile, but I can fully understand where the frustration comes in. I don’t think fans are out of line by expressing their displeasure. We (the readers of epic fantasy) had bad experiences with Terry Goodkind, David Drake, and the tragedy of Robert Jordan’s untimely demise. Consider what has happened, He finished the third book five years ago. That’s when we were told of the POV split. My first thought was, good, that’s fine that means most of the book has already been written. For a book he claimed to have written a great deal of already, it seemed to be taking a long time. Then, beginning in 2007, came the yearly announcements that he understood our frustration, but bear with him, he’s working hard and he’ll try to be done by June. A year went by and he said the same thing. Another year went by and he has said the same thing. MEANWHILE, he offers a neverending stream of tie in products and merchandise, making the delay seem suspiciously like an effort to draw out the cash. This at least is understandable. But what is not ok is the fact that he’s working on other books, other anthologies and the even a book series from the 80’s about superheros. I can understand the venom, but I don’t share it, not anymore. I’ve moved past the anger and into despair. I don’t think he’ll finish the series. I honestly don’t. Even if he does it will be at least 2020 and probably 2025 by the time it’s done. Instead of singing its praises, I now advise readers against beginning the series. If (and that’s a big if) he ever publishes Dance with Dragons, I won’t buy it, I’ll get it from the library and maybe pick up a soft cover from a used book store in a few years. A massive drop in expected sales may encourage him to make hay while the sun shines, finish your award winning, best selling, this is what everyone will remember long after you’re gone series. When it’s done, by all means, write about 1980’s superheros. One last thought. Does anyone honestly think that the HBO executives are going to put less pressure on him if the pilot gets picked up?

  • Lena September 9, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I can’t believe people can be so quick to call the delay pre-meditated on GRM’s part, or to shoot him down on a “fan” page saying you’ll be getting his book from a thrift store or something!? Let’s face it- reading that can’t exactly make the guy feel devoted to Dance with Dragon’s for the sake of his fans..
    I’m sorry the epic fantasy crowd has had so many “bad experiences” with delays, but it isn’t confined to your branch of literature, you know. That GRM has even posted something when he knows it isn’t what his fans want to hear is really unusual. ie-Anyone into epic historical fiction might know that the Earth’s Children series hasn’t been added to since 2002 and that no one’s heard a peep out of her since 2006! Or that Gabaldon has taken eight years over her two last additions..
    Anyway, I’m just trying to say that creativity isn’t a constant, and that if GRM wrote other books between Ice and Fire- great! Maybe it’ll give him more perspective and patience for his characters Ice- if not a greater appreciation for his fans, most of whom only checked out his other books to criticize (or so it seemed to me).

  • JakJ November 6, 2009 at 6:16 am

    George R. R. Martin is an artist and you can’t rush creativity. I am willing to wait as long as it takes for him to finish and hopefully he isn’t phased too heavily by these disgruntled fans; i wouldn’t want his vision for Dance to be screwed by these relentless anti-fans.

    I can’t lie I can’t wait for Dance to come out but I know I’ll just tear through it so quick and be looking for the next one. Hell, what am I going to do when the series is at and end? I’ve been reading “The Sword of Truth” by Terry Goodkind, but I have not found anything quite like “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

  • Dinkster January 6, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I am on the more forgiving side, and I’ll surely buy it whenever it comes out. I do think sometimes though, about the fact that this is what he does for a living and I wonder how his dedication to his career would stand up to any other line of work. Still, I don’t think he’s a liar and any comments about him being “60 and fat” are… well, I can’t even think of a word that adequately describes it.

  • Isaac January 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I think the caustic tone of the comments that some have directed at GRRM (i.e. “60 and fat”) are out of line. I do think that the underlying sentiment is justified, however. GRRM is able to pursue many lucrative activities (HBO mini-series, miniatures, travel to conferences, etc) only because these same fans that he whines about paid for the first four books of ASoIaF. While I realize that he is technically free to do whatever he wants with his time, I think there is some moral obligation for him to put the completion of the series at the top of his priority list. It is his job, after all. There are times when I miss out on things I would like to do (travel, watch football, blog) because of demands placed on me by my job. I personally think that GRRM has become complacent now that he has found financial success, and that he lacks the drive necessary to finish the series. I will still buy the remaining books when they come out, but I am doubtful that “A Dream of Spring” will ever become a reality.

  • Jim Smith January 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Why should there be a ‘moral obligation’ for GRRM to complete the series? Westeros is not his only concern. My only concern is that when it is published it will be crushed under an even heavier weight of expectation than AFFC. As a consequence it will not receive the balanced treatment it deserves.

  • Saif January 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Of course there is a moral obligation for him to finish what he started. If ASOIAF had been sold originally as a series with no ending (or even a series which would be concluded anywhere between fifteen and thirty years later) neither I nor many other readers would have bought it. GRRM has sold books and made money on the assumption that he will deliver the end of the story. And, while I don’t necessarily say that ASOIAF should be on the top of his priority list purely because of its financial success, I do think he should give it time before his other commitments/interests on the basis that he has taken year after year on it. I would consider it a very basic ethic to finish what you start, and to not start new projects until you’re done with old ones. All writers should owe something to their readers – that’s what they get their royalties for.

  • Kelly April 9, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Some of you people need to get out and get a life. If this series is never finished (and let’s face it, there are no guarantees for any of us living past today)so what? Yes, they are excellent books, and yes I would love to have the enjoyment of finishing it (within the author’s timeline) but there are always other books to read, movies to watch and, seriously, a life to live. Get out of YOUR HOUSES!! The man is enjoying himself and you are NOT ENTITLED to another book, or another 3 or however many it’s going to take to finish up. For the fellow who will just go to the library, good for you. I doubt Mr. Martin is going to miss the $$. Artists don’t create art for the money, they do it because they are driven to. But art can’t be all to life or you become a very boring person and your art will suffer for it. And last but not least, Saif, it’s rediculous to say that Mr. Martin has a MORAL OBLIGATION to finish his series. Last Icheck it was still his to do with it as he so chooses. Get over yourself. I will fee blessed & excited when the next book comes out and grateful to be able to enter back into that wonderful kingdom that has been created for me to enjoy and to recommend to others.

  • Mario May 4, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Now I’ve been waiting paitiently for a Dance With Dragons for a number of years now and I am still excited about the book. I can understand why some people are getting impatient, as I said it’s been a number of years and the only thing that’s come of it is that you have decided to turn it into more books. Still there is no reason for people to be hostile towards Mr. Martin for working on other projects.(The Man has got to make a living) As for Mr. Martin, I wish you all the luck with the HBO adaption and look forward to watching it, but please sir, at least finish A Dance as soon as possible and for what it’s worth you will have my utmost gratitude and eternal devotion. For now I wait with baited breath.