So, as I’m sure everyone know by now, yesterday (or early this morning) George R. R. Martin made an announcement which should have surprised exactly zero people familiar with his writing pace . . . namely that there still isn’t a release date for Winds of Winter. I am amazed that people are surprised by this, but even more amazed by some of the reactions I’ve seen:
People saying they’ve been crying since they found out.
People sure it’s being delayed so people will actually watch the sixth season of the show.
People convinced he could be done by now if he just learned to type faster/got a newer computer/used a modern word processing program.
People speculating on how many years he has left to live — going so far as to use an online life expectancy calculator in one case! — and concluding that there is no way the seventh book will be written by him.
People convinced that he’s suffering from some sort of fear of not living up to people’s expectations and that’s why it’s taking so long, so he needs a good psychiatrist.
People thinking he doesn’t want to finish it because he’s been working on the series for so long that it would cause him to have to acknowledge his own mortality.
As well as the usual entitled whiny brats saying “I’ve invested x years/$x in this series! He owes it to us fans to finish it and quit accepting invitations to do other things/writing other things” in every conceivable fashion short of actually calling him their bitch.
But none of these floored me as much as one particular sort of response I saw: People who won’t be reading the book when it comes out since they’ll already know what happens from the show. This, despite GRRM pointing out in his blogpost that the books and show have already seriously diverged! These people, when pressed about it, acknowledge that there will be differences, but the big plot points will still be the same.
I just can’t wrap my head around this. Maybe it’s because little me started the Little House series with Little Town on the Prairie, after having seen various episodes of the show set all over the timeline, but for me, reading a book has never been about finding out how things end up. It’s about the journey, not the destination. (Come to think of it, this might have something to do with trouble with coming up with plots . . . or maybe that’s my love of Little House in general being the issue there. More on that in the blogpost I intended to make today which I’ll almost definitely probably make later this week.)
I can’t comprehend reading something as long as A Song of Ice and Fire just to find out how it ends! I read over twice as fast as the average person (between 400 and 700 wpm, depending on which online test I use . . . I’m calculating this based on 500 because it made sense at the time); it’d take me 3540 hours to read all of the books so far! That’s 147.5 days . . . assuming I could read 24 hours a day, which I can’t. Assuming a more reasonable 6 hours a day spent reading, it’d take me 590 days to read the books. That’s over a goddamned year! If who Jon’s parents are or who’s going to ultimately end up on the throne was the only thing keeping me interested, I’d have long since given up!
It especially doesn’t make sense to be reading GRRM’s books for that purpose since this is the guy who has repeatedly said the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself! I think that makes it pretty damned obvious that he’s not writing the books with his focus being on the end point of the plot!
EDITED TO ADD: I have found even more confusing commentary elsewhere: People saying that GRRM himself will not be interested in the books any more after the show ends, “since he won’t get to show us the ending”. What the fuck?! Guys, no writer ever has ever written something just to get to show readers the ending. In fact, given GRRM’s “sins” — the “overdescribed” banquets and heraldry and “too much emphasis on characters people don’t care about” — I’m willing to bet what he wants is the same thing I do: to show people the cool characters and setting he made.