Oh man, I feel for George R.R. Martin. He’s just fessed up that he can’t finish The Winds of Winter before the next Game of Thrones season airs on TV. It won’t affect HBO much, if at all. The producers have been working closely with Martin and should have no real problems pushing on with the narrative. It’s a helluva thing for the author to deal with though, watching somebody else tell his story before he’s even finished it.
DId he kill Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons? Maybe, maybe not. But if Snow comes back, it'll be the show runners Benioff and Wiess who perform the miracle. That's gotta burn.
All of the books in the series are huge and complex and take years to write and edit under ideal circumstances, but the pressure which has piled on Martin as the TV series exploded in popularity make for circumstances which are a long fucking way from ideal. His statement is heavy with the shame which will be familiar to all writers who must live their profession in public; the shame of not delivering.
“I won’t make excuses,” he writes. “There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO. It’s on me. I tried, and I am still trying.”
Oh man. I know that feeling. If you write, so do you. It sucks like the cold vacuum of space. Martin blamed the slippage on busy scheduling, distractions, and most tellingly on writer’s block. You never, ever admit to writers block. It’s like confessing to impotence. It's naming the devil. It's perdition and damnation.
Props to him for his honesty and bravery, but it won’t help. Unfortunately he’ll now have write into the teeth of a howling gale of entitlement, selfishness and fan anger. (Fan anger, which is a real thing, is where I got the idea for the fangr in HOOPER, just as an aside. I was pondering the phrase, and it became ‘fanger’ - an occasional term for vampires - and then fangr. The undifferentiated id monsters which are all teeth and terror, barely leashed in by a Hunn dominant are my private joke about the sort of readers who harass authors like Martin because they’re worried he’ll die before finishing ‘their’ book. Not so private any more, I guess.)
GRRM has undoubtedly added to his own woes. We all do. But the main culprit is the weight of our expectation, our fangrrr, which I suspect is crushing the creative life out of him. I also suspect the only way he’s going to get his mojo back is for the whole world to just step back, give him some space and say, “Whenever you’re ready, George. No rush.”