George R.R. Martin had some sad news for Game of Thrones fans on his blog this weekend: “The Winds of Winter is not finished.” Confessing to be just as disappointed as his fans, Martin predicts that he is still months away from completing the novel. Of course, many fans were in an uproar over the announcement, while others, including geeky favorites Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day came to Martin’s defense.
Martin explains in his post how diligently he tried to meet various deadlines throughout the year to get the novel done before the next season of the HBO show, but that the writing was not going as fast as he had hoped. The stress from the deadlines was not helping him write any faster, either. To alleviate some of the stress and help make the book the best it can be, he has not set a new deadline for himself, repeating only his old mantra of “It will be done when it’s done.”
Martin also addresses concerns that now that the show is getting ahead of the books, it will spoil major plot points. In short, some things may be spoiled, but others will not as the show and books are beginning to take two different paths. I personally think we can still get enjoyment over guessing which events will end up in the books, and which will be unique to TV.
Many fans posted unhappy reactions on twitter, expressing a loss of trust in the author, or comparing their own life accomplishments to Martin’s progress on his book.
There were a good number of supportive reactions too, particularly in the comments on Martin’s blog post, but as always, it was the haters who made their voices the loudest.
Neil Gaiman took the opportunity to remind the twitterverse of a blog post he had written back in 2009 in which he introduced the idea that “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” The name of this post is “entitlement issues” which highlights so cleanly the issue with many fan reactions to Martin’s announcement. He reminds us that artists and writers are people, “And sometimes, and it’s as true of authors as it is of readers, you have a life.” Daily tasks, family emergencies, the need to recharge between writing sessions, these things may get in the way of completing a book on time, but they are all valid uses of the author’s time. It is simply unfair to expect authors to put their real lives on complete hold just to churn out books to their readers’ desires.
Gaiman also points out that the creative process is not something we have absolute control over, and sometimes the ideas that pop into your head are not the ones your fans are waiting desperately for. Gaiman’s advice for those getting antsy in their seats waiting for the next installment: “Wait. Read the original book again. Read something else. Get on with your life.”
Felicia Day retweeted Gaiman’s post, adding, “This. We are lucky to receive people’s art, not entitled to it. #georgerrmartinisnotyourbitch.”
The hashtag has caught on with some fans, while others have redirected their energy to arguing with Neil and Felicia about the social contract authors may or may not owe to their fans, ensuring resolution to the story he has built up.
I personally am heartily on Mr. Gaiman’s side here. Individual works of fiction are gifts to the world from their very human authors, not something we have a right to expect whenever and however we want. If your love for a book is causing you to spew hate at the person who created it, I think you need to take a step back and think.
What are your thoughts on the controversy? Let’s have a discussion in the comments, below!