The Winds of Waiting

Snarky subject line aside, I’m nothing but sympathetic.

GRRM gave us several blog posts on his LJ last night, the last one being an update on the status of The Winds of Winter, aka Book 6, aka Son of Kong.

Teal Deer version: we will NOT see Book 6 ahead of Season 6.

Rumors of him having spent the last several years not working on Book 6 are pure fantasy; he has been working on the book, and he has made progress, but he’s not finished. He will not finish in time to get the book published ahead of the new season. He’s thinking “months” more spent on writing before he has a finished draft to send to his publishers.

Part of the problem is that the pressure of NOW NOW NOW creates a vicious cycle which is not conducive to productivity:

Even as late as my birthday and our big Emmy win, I still thought I could do it… but the days and weeks flew by faster than the pile of pages grew, and (as I often do) I grew unhappy with some of the choices I’d made and began to revise… and suddenly it was October, and then November… and as the suspicion grew that I would not make it after all, a gloom set in, and I found myself struggling even more. The fewer the days, the greater the stress, and the slower the pace of my writing became.

Yeah, see…all this finger-wagging writers give each other about how we MUST write at a certain pace?

It’s not helpful.

The more we think we should be more productive, the more we get angry at ourselves, the more we don’t write.

My situation as a novelist is not comparable to GRRM in the same way that a small woodlands bird is not comparable to a large aquatic mammal as a fellow vertebrate, but I know this dynamic well. We need to forgive ourselves, live our lives, and be honest about what we can do.

That said, there’s another factor going into GRRM’s process, which is that he’s revising at the same time as writing. And that’s fine! I’d even say it’s probably for the best. Take a moment to appreciate the scale of the project that GRRM is working to complete: he’s dealing with hundreds of characters spread out over thousands of miles, he has everything from political subplots down to family dynamics and friendships. He’s controlling the big, hard things that they cover at Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, and he’s dealing with the small, soft things that I’ve been writing about over here. And these are not unrelated; the wars and politics interact with the family and romantic subplots. When I refer to my family/friendship/romance blogging as “small, soft things,” I don’t mean these things are unimportant. Much of our experience in reading/viewing a work of fiction is our interest in what happens to the characters, and GRRM is handling a huge cast of characters with all sorts of interesting stuff happening. It makes sense for him to write and revise at the same time.

But beyond that he has a huge job to do and it’ll take as long as it takes, we have another question for the book/show schedule, which is to what extent S6 will “spoil” The Winds of Winter.

Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.

I think part of the fun of watching S6 will be figuring out which parts are derived from Book 6, and which parts are unique to the show.

Then he gives us some examples of book/show divergences:

Just consider. Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes… but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways. Balon Greyjoy, on the flip side, is dead in the books, alive on the show. His brothers Euron Crow’s Eye and Victarion have not yet been introduced (will they appear? I ain’t saying). Meanwhile Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING.

THIS IS YOUR DAILY REMINDER THAT STANNIS BARATHEON IS REALLY DEAD ON THE SHOW. And no, I don’t think D&D are forcing him to say that. Not that GRRM’s word will convince certain fans. But he is telling us Stannis is dead on the show, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be among the characters who die in the books. He will not win the Game of Thrones.

Okay, that silliness aside, GRRM doesn’t seem to be aware that some of us know a lot more about S6 than we’re supposed to. We know we’re getting Euron Greyjoy. We’re pretty sure we’ll see a Kingsmoot on the Iron Islands, which strongly suggests Balon’s days are numbered. We seem to be getting Wyman Manderly or someone very similar. It’s too late for the show to introduce the older Tyrell brothers without being completely incoherent, but maybe we can still get something comparable to Griff and Young Griff? We can do without Arianne Martell, though. I don’t miss her.

Meanwhile, as I remarked during the Season 5 Finale Posting Spree, there are still a few storylines where the show has not caught up to the books. Arya’s situation in Braavos, Sam and Gilly traveling south, Jaime’s visit to Riverrun, these are all areas where the show still has material to adapt from Books 4 and 5. I can also name a couple of characters aside from Balon Greyjoy who are dead in the books and still active on the show. But I won’t name them because that would be a tremendous spoiler. Which means I may still have a bit of fodder for book/show comparisons.

From my side as a blogger, though, it’s probably better that I won’t be able to compare much of S6 to what we’ve seen in the books, because I’m really hoping to spend less time blogging about Game of Thrones and more time writing my own fiction. I’ve really enjoyed blogging up an unholy storm on Game of Thrones, and running all these book/show comparisons, but I was able to do so much of that in 2015 mostly because I basically took a sabbatical from writing my novels. I had other reasons to put my original fiction on the back burner for most of the year, but I’m hoping to spend more of 2016 being a novelist, which will inevitably mean I don’t have nearly such a high word count to spend on our favorite show. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about the siege of Riverrun, there’ll be at least one addition to the I Enjoy This Too Much family, and I’ll have some reactions to some episodes, but I do not expect to have the spare time or mental energy to devote to my GoT obsession that I had in 2015.

And from my side as a reader, there’s something to be said about not being able to read Book 6 before the new season. I wouldn’t want to rush through the book for the sake of reading to the end before we see Episode 1. When the book comes out—and I’m sure GRRM will finish eventually!—I want to be able to take my time with it. And once I’ve read to the end of Book 6, then I may be able to run some book/show comparisons. When I run those comparisons, I want them to be as thorough and coherent as possible, which means not having to race against the show.