Last night I was watching Master of None, I promise you that this will not be the last you hear about that, and skimming through FaceySpace (that one’s for you Jen! My sister hates it when I do that). I have a weird addiction to social media. Actually it’s almost compulsive. I don’t think this is something I’m proud of but I also don’t think that it requires an intervention. I just liked to be tapped into the pulse. Any way, I saw that George RR Martin had been making blog posts on to his live journal site, and his latest one was right there on my feed, and it’s subject matter… the publication of the Winds of Winter. The title was simple, Last Year (The Winds of Winter), but even then I knew.
So it was with very little surprise when I read the posting and found out that Winds of Winter (book six) would not be coming out before the newest season of Game of Thrones. Siiiiiiiiiggggghh. This was news that I had been expecting/fearing, but to finally get the vindication was a blow. Let me break it down for you.
At my heart I’m a purist. I started reading the books before I started watching the show, and that’s how I want to conclude the series. I want to see how the author/creator intended to end his story, and then compare it to how the television show interrupts it. This way I can be a typical fanboy and bitch and moan when (and if) they screw it up. That’s my right as a geeky fan, to preserve the purity of the source. It’s like if they wanted that to happen don’t you think the author would have written it that way?! But Game of Thrones is in a very unique situation having caught up with all the books, and no new material to base things off of.
Now I’m presented with this tough decision. Do I stop watching the show and wait for the books? And the even more difficult question. Is that even possible? Spoilers are real yo!
While Martin has posted on his blog again today thanking everyone for their support (Side Note: Here’s an idea, stop writing blog posts and work on your freakin’ book!), I’m kind of left here with this feeling of disgust. I’m totally aware that this is just a book series and those types of feelings could make me sound psychotic, but allow me to explain.
As an author you have a responsibility to your readers. You’ve provided them with five books, three of which are great, one that is pretty good, and a fifth that’s not so much, and have seen your work get turned into an award winning television show that has a huge following. As the author you know there is still more left to this story that isn’t finished, and you want to take your readers to the finish line with you. I think there’s an obligation, a fairness, to allow them to experience this story, in it’s entirety, with how they found it.
I’m going to call a spade a spade here and say there’s a bit of laziness in the fact that Winds of Winter will not be published before the next season. Just about four years have passed since the publication date of A Dance of Dragons, and Martin himself says he regrets not continuing writing once it was finished, that the writing was going particularly well yet he just stopped to do promotion for the show and new novel. Call me crazy here, but being someone who also enjoys writing, it’s the most mobile thing to do ever. Here’s an example. I have to travel to promote my television show and my new book, but I also would like to continue writing, what should I do? Oh that’s right bring my lap top and work in a writing schedule so I can work more! What a brilliant and very convenient idea! At this rate I can wrap the books up before the show catches up to the source material. But that is logical thinking.
When I’m not writing at I Am Geek I also like to write fiction. All types of genres. If the story comes to me then I need to get it out of my head, and that’s the thing I don’t get about Martin. If the story was flowing and you were making progress… how could you just stop?! I get the part where he says the writing wasn’t always there because it’s difficult to over come that, not to mention frustrating. Sometimes the only answer for getting stuck is stepping away or re-reading things or maybe even starting a different section of the book. Find a way to work around the problem. Martin’s blog journal struck me as him saying “it would get hard and I’d give up on it”. Gee thanks.
I come from the Stephen King mentality of writing. That the story is already in my head and I just need to get it on to paper. His book, On Writing, was a fantastic read and helped provide some great advice on the craft. One of the things King preaches is that you let the characters dictate the story. Once you start telling them what to do then you start to compromise the narrative. They should be living, breathing beings on their own you’re just their voice. While I was reading Martin’s post he came across as someone who is trying to tell the characters what to do, and that left me feeling a bit worried. This man has no idea how this story is going to end up because he’s too busy trying to force his characters into doing things. How could we possibly expect him to finish this series at all? There have been five books at this point, you would think it would be time to trust the characters a bit, and allow them to take you home. They know better than anyone else.
My trust in Martin to deliver a satisfying conclusion to this book series has wavered a bit after reading his post. I get that he’s a person in high demand, but at some point he needs to under stand what has made him a person in high demand. His books. Maybe it’s time for him to turn to these characters and ask them for guidance. I want to be understanding but I’m finding that I can’t be. The man had a responsibility to his readers and he’s let us down. He said it himself, he never believed the show would catch up to the books. But they have, and the only one responsible for that is him. Now we the reader/viewer have to make the choice. Do we wait or do we watch? I’m starting to lean towards watch because I know the show will have a conclusion. I’m not entirely confident that books will. And that breaks my heart a little.
Remember being a kid and upsetting your parents? That terrible moment where they would sit you down and discuss what you’ve done. Time kind of stops and you have that sweat that starts at the back of your ear but also is somehow inside your chest. That’s when they look at you and say, “We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed” and your heart just freakin’ shatters. Anger passes but disappointment is one of those things that lingers. There’s no time frame for when the disappointment will pass. That’s what I want. I want to look at George RR Martin and tell him I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.