Lend me your ears, procrastinators, boss-haters, and degenerate undergraduates. Have you ever padded an essay to satisfy a page count requirement? Have you secretly adjusted the font size on periods to raise the page count? Claimed to be working on a deadline when you were most clearly not?
Come sit alongside George R.R. Martin if this describes you. You may recall that Martin is suffering from the most well-publicized bout of writer’s block in human history. He’s been working on The Winds of Winter, the highly anticipated penultimate volume in his Game of Thrones series, since at least 2010—and now, as if to make up for more than a decade of missed deadlines, he’s going out about why the book is well worth the wait funny, I think I told my British Lit professor the same thing when I needed an extension.
On his blog, he remarked, “The Winds of Winter is going to be a massive book.” “At this rate, it could be bigger than A Storm of Swords or A Dance With Dragons, the series’ longest books to date.” I generally cut and trim when I’m done, but I have to complete first.”
That’s the situation. Martin, how did you get yourself into this mess? Allow me to take you on a Scrooge-like voyage back in time, dear reader, to the ghosts of deadlines past. Our journey begins in 2010 when Martin proudly announced on his blog that the first four chapters of The Winds of Winter had been completed.
Then came the first signs of difficulties in 2011, when he refused to specify a release date for the sixth book in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying, “There’s an element of fans who don’t seem to grasp I’m making estimations.” I’ve been guilty of exaggerated optimism on a few occasions.” In 2011, we were very young! What a naivety!
In an interview with the Spanish blog Adria’s News in 2012, Martin stated that The Winds of Winter would be released in 2014, though he added, “I am pretty lousy at forecasts” just wait, this is going to become a theme. Then, as 2014 passed without the release of Winds of Winter, Martin’s publisher poured cold water on Martin’s supporters.
“I have no information on a potential delivery date,” HarperCollins‘ Jane Johnson told The Guardian. “These are becoming increasingly difficult works, and writing them necessitates a great deal of focus. Fans should be aware that these creatures are the length of two or three novels by other authors.” Do you hear what I’m saying, everybody? We should just be grateful and stop blaming him.
“I still have a lot of pages to write, but I also have a lot of pages that are already written,” Martin told Access magazine in March 2015. As if you were an actual college student. Then, a month later, he told Entertainment Weekly that he wanted to release the book in spring 2016 to coincide with HBO’s Game of Thrones’ sixth season, saying, “Perhaps I’m being unduly enthusiastic about how quickly I can finish.” But I’ve canceled two convention appearances and am declining a slew of further interviews—anything I can do to clear the decks and get this done.”
“I am not going to create another deadline for myself to trip over,” he remarked in January of that year. The deadlines are causing me a lot of anxiety.” That’s something I’m going to test on my editor the next time we meet. Fans were frightened when The Winds of Winter was advertised on Amazon France with a March 2017 release date is September 2016, but HarperCollins said it was a big ol’ nothing burger.
In January 2017, Martin declared that this was going to be his year: “I believe it will be out this year.” But, hey, I had the same thinking last year,” he said on his blog. However, he continued to tease followers by tweeting, “I am still working on it, I am still months away how many? I still have good and bad days, and that’s all I have to say about it… I believe you will receive a Westeros book from me in 2018… perhaps two. A boy can fantasize…” Sir, how about you finish one book and then we can talk about the other two?
Martin co-wrote the pilot for the first of several Game of Thrones spin-offs, which HBO ordered in June 2018. Fans anxiously anticipating his new book were understandably worried, but he used his trusted blog to reassure them: Martin wrote, “Work on Winds of Winter continues, and it remains my primary priority.” “It’s ludicrous to believe otherwise.” Ridiculous!
Then, in 2020, the strange answer to fans’ prayers arrived: a virus forced everyone into isolation, and Martin found himself stranded at home with nothing to do but write. “If nothing else,” he said on his blog, “the forced isolation has helped me write.”
“I’m working on The Winds of Winter for lengthy stretches of time every day, and I’m making steady progress.” I finished a new chapter the other day, another three days ago, and another the week before that. No, this does not imply that the book will be completed and released the next week. It’ll be a big book, and I’m still working on it.”
When Martin claimed he still had a long way to go, he wasn’t kidding. “I will make no predictions on when I will complete,” he wrote on his blog in June 2021, clearly enraged at the prospect of being held accountable for all of his missed deadlines. Assholes on the internet interpret this as a ‘promise,’ and then anxiously await my crucifixion when I fail the deadline. All I can say is that I am optimistic.”
This brings us back to the current day, with Martin arguing that all of the missed deadlines are worth his extremely lengthy, super wonderful, almost done book. Even if it appears that Martin’s suffering has no end in sight, we remain hopeful. Have you ever heard of Procrastinators Anonymous, my friend? Perhaps they can assist.