On George R.R. Martin, writing, television, and pressure

Have I actually put this on the blog yet? No? Yes? Well if I have you get it again:

Let’s talk about George R.R. Martin.

I’ve been open, repeatedly, about what I think about the Song of Ice and Fire books.  I think the first one is one of the greatest works of fantasy ever written and the series has gotten steadily worse with each book.  The first one was good enough that it took four books to get to “bad” with A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons was so bad that frankly I don’t even really care when The Winds of Winter comes out.

(Disclaimer: GRRM is a better writer than me, and I cannot do what he does.  I’m going to be comparing myself to him a fair amount in this post. This is true regardless of what I think of what he’s done with the latter ASoIaF books.  Clear?  Good.)

330858_800.jpgGeorge just announced on his LiveJournal that no, The Winds of Winter won’t be out before Season Six of the television series starts in April– that he’s already blown two deadlines and that he needs “months” more to finish the book.  He hints but does not directly state that it would probably take three or four months from the moment he turns the book in for it to hit shelves.  One way or another, mid-April’s not happening.

couple things about that.

First, let me repeat Neil Gaiman’s take on this: George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.  He is still not your bitch.  You’re allowed to be disappointed that the book isn’t here yet.  That’s fine.  You want to do a thing and you’re not able to do it yet.  It’s okay if you’re disappointed.

That’s where it ends, though.  I’ve already seen way too many people hinting or outright stating (assholes tend to not be especially subtle) that George R.R. Martin did X last year, and that instead of doing X he should have been working on his book.

Fuck you, if you think that way.

The thing is, I know exactly where the guy’s coming from.  I was really, really hoping to have Sunlight ready for C2E2 in late March.  It’s still possible, mind you, but it’s getting less and less likely every day.  I know what it’s like to have a deadline and blow it because the words aren’t coming.  And I suspect that Martin’s and my methods are not terribly different because of the way he describes working on TWoW in the post– he is not a word-count-every-day type of guy, because some days those words are not going to happen because what is in your head is Wrong and no wording is going to happen until Wrong becomes Right.  He is absolutely not working on this book every day and he doesn’t fucking have to be.  I haven’t written a single word of Sunlight in a couple of weeks because 1) I’m at a critical part that I need to get right and 2) I wrote a short story and 3) I’ve been the kind of busy that doesn’t allow me a lot of headspace for other stuff.

If I were GRRM, somebody might point at #2 and get on my case.  How dare you write a Jayashree story when Sunlight isn’t finished!  

Well, I wanted to write a Jayashree story, and Jayashree was what the Create-O-Matic in my brain was working on at the time, and shut up, I’m not your bitch.  Hell, I’m juggling two different series right now, and there’s at least one more rattling around in my head.  I’m not remotely famous enough that people are getting mad at me for working on one and not the other, but if/when one of them hits?  It’s gonna happen.  And I suspect that I will not react with calm equanimity when it does.

But what about the TV show?

Fuck the TV show.

No, seriously, fuck it.

game-of-thrones-jack-gleeson-purple-wedding.jpgI know George doesn’t feel that way; he says in the piece that he feels like he’s letting the show’s producers down.  He shouldn’t.  I’ve said this before, too: what they should do for the next two ASoIaF books and the Game of Thrones TV show is just never talk to each other again at this point.  Let the TV show end the story its way and let George end it his and let the fans argue about how things really should have gone.  That’s not the choice they made, though, and everybody wanted the book out before the TV show, and oh noez the TV show will spoil the books now!

Deal, chirren.  Y’gonna be okay.  At least now there’s something to spoil; one of the most tiring things about this show (which I’ve watched maybe a couple of episodes of) is that motherfuckers are insisting that it’s still possible to spoil something that happened in a book that came out thirteen years ago.  So far the show seems to diverging from the books mainly just to add more rape.  I can live without it, I think.  You still get the story, or some version of it, you just get it in a (maybe) different way than you used to.  Suck it up, Buttercup, you’ll be fine.

Here’s the other alarming thing: George R.R. Martin is 67 years old.  And, honestly, after reading that post and getting stressed out myself over the borderline depression and stress leaking through the words, I halfway think he ought to wait until the show is done before he puts any more effort into these damn books.  I’m worried about him, and not in an oh no my story might not get finished!!! sort of way, but in a he’s human and holy shit does the stress seem to be getting to him sort of way.  Now, George has already expressed his feelings on the folks worried that Brandon Sanderson will be writing A Dream of Spring:


But … goddamn, George, you have proven your shit by now.  It doesn’t matter that I haven’t liked the books lately.  You’ve earned the right to fucking relax and I’m pretty sure the guy left writing for the money behind a while ago.

Fuck these folks.  Write this book the way you want, how you want, as fast as you want, or, hell, not.  No more stressing out about fucking HBO or people who watch TV, and sure as hell no apologizing to us again.

People have been reminded plenty of times that George R.R. Martin is not our bitch.  But this is the first time I’ve felt like he needed to be reminded of it.


gameIt’s been all over the news lately: this will be the season where the TV version of Game of Thrones finally laps the books, or at the very least it’s going to catch them this season and next season will have to be all-new stuff.  George R.R. Martin, famous for being a slow writer (and note: I’m not complaining, at least not with an intent to be taken seriously by anyone) simply cannot keep up with the speed of broadcast TV, and there is absolutely no way that he’s going to be able to get two books written before the show hits the plotlines of the sixth and seventh books.

Those of us who had read the book when it came out fifteen goddamn years ago snickered at the poor saps who didn’t know what was coming when the Red Wedding happened.  Now, it seems, the tables have turned, and the TV people get to know the ending of the saga before, or at least at the same time as, the folks who have been reading the books.

My relationship to A Song of Ice and Fire is complicated, guys.  I’m almost compulsive in my need to complain every time someone mentions these books around me; I think Game of Thrones is one of the best works of fantasy literature ever written, and I think that the series has gotten asymptotically worse with every book that has been published since then.  They became actively bad with the publication of A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons was execrable.  At this point I may not even read The Winds of Winter.  If I do, it will be a hate-read.  I don’t even want to contemplate what the seventh book might be like.

Nonetheless!  A suggestion:

TV people!  Finish this season following the books as carefully as you always have (which is to say as carefully as you need to; the books and show, which I don’t watch regularly, have already diverged on a number of points) and then once you are clear of the published books, never speak to George R.R. Martin again about how the show should go.  Send him his checks, and end the series however you want.

George R. R. Martin!  Dance, naked and gleeful, upon the huge pile of money you have made off this show, and then write whatever the hell you want.  Don’t watch the show anymore; you can Netflix it when you’re done with the books.  Do not collaborate with these people and do not tell them your ending.  (Note: I am aware he already has.  He’s not listening to me anyway so I’m going to ignore this aspect of reality.)

Make the show and the books entirely separate cultural artifacts at this point.  We’re big folk; we can handle it.  Both of you, end the series however the hell you want, and don’t talk to each other about how you’re going to do it.  

Yes, this will lead to two wildly different endings. That is the point.

As evidence that this will work, I present to you The Walking Dead.  One of the show’s great strengths as a reader of the comics is the way that they gleefully remix everything that the comics do, sprinkling in a heavy dose of their own stuff, introducing brand-new characters, killing off people the books kept alive, and keeping alive folk who have been dead in the comics for years.  The Walking Dead TV show is the best adaptation of a story across media that I have ever seen.  Period.  Point-blank.  And part of the reason for that is that I never have any idea what’s coming next even if I’ve read the comics until they’ve fallen apart.  It is awesome.

Listen to me, Hollywood people and writer much more famous and powerful than me.  Stop talking to each other.  Right now.  Go do your own thing.  Both stories will be better for it.

This isn’t going to work

I fully expect that by the time this pops tomorrow morning HBO will have DMCA’d the hell out of it and it’ll be gone, but here’s for hoping, because it entertains me.  Oh, and Game of Thrones spoilers for those of you who think you can still spoil something that came out fourteen years ago:


photoWe went to one of the local Chippleday’s for dinner tonight.  Turns out the boy really, really likes corn on the cob.  I posted the picture on Facebook prior to putting it here; one of my friends said something about how great the kid’s eyes looked.  That, folks, is the glassy-eyed stare of a hardcore addict.  He had no idea there was anyone else in the room with him while he had that corn on the cob in front of him.  I was concerned he was going to drop it if we didn’t cut the corn off the cob; silly me, the kid didn’t even put it down until it was almost all gone.

A side note: I’m fat, I know this; I’ve been fatter and thinner at various points in my life, and I will be both fatter and thinner than I am now at other points in my life.  What I am not, however, is hugely broad.  I’m wider than a lot of guys but I can think of quite a few that I know who are much wider than me– and I outweigh some of them.  This is all just to say that the width of the urinals at Chippleday’s borders on criminal, in addition to the sin of being the purely evil toilet-bowl-set-into-the-wall style.   I had to keep my arms in front of my body in order to fit, and had I decided to toss my elbows out to the sides I probably could have smashed the divider right out of the wall.

“Why didn’t you just use the stall?” is a question I’ll leave to smarter people.

Random, quick note: We’ve been watching our way through the first season of Deadwood for the last couple of weeks– which I’ve actually seen before, but not for long enough that I remember the finer details.  I mention it now just to point out that I think I have a healthier appreciation than most for profanity well-used, and the dialogue in Deadwood is a fucking masterclass in how to use profanity in dialogue.  There isn’t a character on the show that I wouldn’t be perfectly happy to hear reading the phone book so long as the show’s writers sprinkled some appropriately salty modifiers in there somewhere.   I almost don’t care about the actual plots of the episodes; I could just listen to these folks talk forever.

One more note: I’ve decided to try and win this.

True Detective

…yeah, that literally couldn’t have ended any better than it did. I need to marathon my way through the entire series again this weekend.  If you’re not watching this show you need to torrent it or steal it or build a fuckin’ time machine and go back in time and watch it or summat.  Holy shit.

What should I get obsessed with next?  Looking at you, Orphan Black.