On George R.R. Martin and stress

This is not a review of the Game of Thrones finale. I might write one of those, but for right now, no. Feel free to read this without fear of any spoilers. It is also not another why won’t he finish the booooooks whine, because 1) George R.R. Martin is not your bitch and 2) I have plenty to read. So adjust your expectations accordingly before you read further.

Y’all, I am, honestly and sincerely, kinda worried about George.

Here’s the thing: you may be aware that I wrote a book called Skylights, a book which ends in such a way that strongly suggests that at least one sequel is forthcoming. Skylights was released in 2014 and the first draft was completed well before that, and was set in a near enough future that it now demands a second edition where I’ve elided most of the actual dates.

I have been thinking about the Skylights sequel for, I think, close to a decade now, if not longer than that. I have taken several serious stabs at writing it, all of which have failed. In that time, precisely zero people have pushed me for a release date or tried to buttonhole me about what happens next. Have people liked the book? Yeah, generally. But there’s no popular groundswell out there for a sequel. Nobody’s chewing their nails or mad at me that the book’s not done yet. If it were to never come out absolutely no one would be upset. The pressure is entirely, 100% internal.

And that goddamn unwritten-ass book is a source of stress in my life every single fucking day. I literally do not go a single day, ever, without chiding myself for not working on the Skylights sequel. Does it make me continue to work on it? No. No, it does not.

And Skylights is a sequel to one book, featuring a constrained cast of characters, and not the sixth (or seventh!) book in a massive doorstop series that a huge chunk of the world knows exists and has been clamoring for for decades.

I think about what this dude must have been going through, having sold this series to TV, and having to watch the slow-motion nightmare apocalypse unfold as the TV series gets closer and closer and finally passes the narrative in the books, and having to have a conversation with people about where he sees the ending going (and I will never believe that he had actually decided on the ending long enough ago to talk to HBO about it) and then, to make things so, so much worse, to have the first ending to his story be so universally despised as this one was.

I want to say something like “Oh, he can just lie down in his giant pile of money and not worry about it,” but you know, I really don’t think GRRM is actually that type of person. I don’t know him; I’ve never met the man, but I just don’t see that. (And if he is, that’s fine! Again, GRRM is not your bitch, or mine, either.)

I’m just picturing myself in this situation, and thinking about how I literally cannot conceive of any way that this deal might have gone any worse for him than the way it did, regardless of the money. Even cancellation would have been better, because then he wouldn’t have had the indignity of having to watch someone else finish his story while he continues to struggle with these massive, unwritable books– and to have to watch them do so in a way that nearly everyone agreed was terrible.

I would not be able to cope with this shit, y’all. Just would not. And no amount of money would help me with it. Again, I’m stressing about Sunlight, or Moonlight, or whateverthefuck it’s going to be called if I ever release it, and no one cares about that but me. He’s literally going through what I’m going through times several million.

So yeah. I’m worried about him right now. Maybe he should be trying to take a swim in his huge pile of money, if he’s not already doing it.

2 thoughts on “On George R.R. Martin and stress

  1. I get the sense that GRRM gives exactly zero f*cks about any of this. He’s having way too much fun in the Wild Cards universe. His Hugo Loser parties are so popular, people are increasingly disappointed to win. I don’t know him either, but my guess is he’s 110% done with GoT and has been for ages.

    Of course what the hell do I know. 🙂

    I too am stuck on a sequel – not to a book that anybody read, but a story with a character I liked and had a whole arc for. Dozens of false starts over the last 5 years. What can ya do.

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  2. Agree with Elizabeth, I think he’s done with it, most assuredly on an emotional level. If he’d been still hooked in, he would’ve finished the books before the show got past season three. That he didn’t is not necessarily a bad thing, like you said, he has many fingers in many pies. I think it’s an interesting scenario for those of us who relish, and hate, writing series.

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