For those of you who aren’t fans, George R.R. Martin, who’s stories shed more blood than The Illiad, has a bit of a conundrum.
The new season of Game of Thrones covers some of the material in Books 4 & 5, when Book 6 hasn’t even been published yet. Martin assures his fans that he’s working on it, but even if it’s published before next year, there’s little chance that Book 7 will be published in time for the show to meet the same point in the story.
Fans of the books are especially anxious, now that word is getting out that Season 5 may contain spoilers from Book 6. Ouch.
The heat is on for Martin.
“It is great that so many people are eager for the next book and certainly these are the people who are paying my bills and allowing me to have a house across the street from my other house,” he says. “But at the same time, sometimes I just wish they would stop pressuring me about it. It will be done when it’s done. I’m working on it. I don’t know what else I can say: I’m a slow writer, I’ve always been a slow writer, and these are gigantic books.” From The Sydney Morning Herald
Give the guy a break. This shit is hard.
Martin is not only writing a seven book series with a thousand pages per book. He not only has a vast cast of characters that require pages of lineage charts. He has mastered the impressive feat of creating a world.
Besides simply writing the story, he has created a detailed world with it’s own history, customs, religion, mythology, and geography, not only for Westeros but for the countries across the Narrow Sea. Westeros appears to be inspired by the Middle Ages, which means understanding the mechanism of the feudal system, jargon, economy, customs, and weird clothing.
This is not the adenoidal voice of a die-hard fan who can list off every person Walder Frey’s brood (I gave up after Walder Jr.) This is the voice of a writer who has been there and done that, an author who knows from experience: this shit is hard.
Creating a world – if you have to do this for your work, then you know – is three times as hard as writing the book itself. You practically write an entire book before writing the book. In fact, that is what Martin did with his book The World of Ice and Fire.
I went through this process with my first book that I just finished – mythology, class system, agriculture, geology. I never felt like I was completely done, and it was still nowhere as near detailed as the world that Martin created for his series. It’s immensely complex. When I tackled one question, three more grew in its place.
The process of world building alone is some kind of test to see if a writer is serious about what he or she is doing and whether they can hack it. Any writer, who is not serious, can easily get discouraged and give up. I came dangerously close a few times. But inhabiting those worlds gives me the same feeling you get when you’re reading a really good book and you never ever want to put it down. Except instead of reading it, you’re writing it, and the world is birthed entirely from your own head.
But goddamn if that shit isn’t hard.
How did he even manage to write these five books? How is he not brain dead from slamming his head against the wall?
“When the writing is going really well, I do get lost in it, I almost live in it. It occupies the back of my head. I’m thinking about it constantly. I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. I cross the street thinking about it – my office is across the street from my house. I spend all day in Westeros and King’s Landing. The real world almost seems to fade away.” From The Sydney Morning Herald
I’m familiar with that place. It’s marvelous. As I take some space from my first book, I’m creating the world for my next project, a speculative fiction series. It’s a little easier this time around in that it’s a version of the U.S. a hundred years from now. I already can work off my native country, its people, and geography, and fill in the next hundred years. But that first book? I was starting from scratch.
And that is what George R.R. Martin had to do with this series. It is no surprise that it has taken him twenty some odd years to write the books.
So give the guy a break, and let the man do his job.