I have posted on this subject before, and I'll now post on it again since the issue of the delay with Dance has once more reared its ugly head. Shawn Speakman proved the spark this time, with an interesting article about how whether any of the criticism of George is justified. Since then, other bloggers have given their views on the whole business:
Wert has written an excellent piece that explains the reason for the discussion in the first place, before giving his own reaction to the various accusations of the 'antifans' (I like that term, it has a nice ring to it...).
Aidan has given his thoughts here (look for the well-considered comment by blogger Thrinidir).
Graeme has also waded into the debate, including an amusing story about the time he met GRRM himself...
I'm a huge fan of GRRM, and naturally I've got my own feelings on the matter. Whereas my fellow bloggers have written carefully considered articles, I'm going to just have a good rant. Apologies in advance if it's a little incoherent...
George R. R. Martin is an amazingly talented writer, and A Song of Ice and Fire is a brilliant fantasy series. We should be grateful that we have had the chance to read his work, and we should appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that he has put into it. Let's be honest here - the guy's given his readers an unsurpassed reading experience and countless hours of enjoyment (and by that I mean not just by reading the books, but debating their many mysteries online). GRRM's work is something to be celebrated and cherished.
Yet sadly we have 'fans' who spend their time berating GRRM's apparent tardiness, demanding fresh news on the long-awaited next novel, and whining about how he's being 'disrespectful' by refusing to reveal how close the book is to completion. These deluded antifans think GRRM should be writing 24/7 to deliver Dance, that he shouldn't watch another second of NFL until the manuscript is turned in, and that when he's not writing he should be updating us all on his progress. GRRM, they squeal, 'owes' us.
What absolute bullshit. GRRM owes us nothing, and anyone who says he's being disrespectful to his fans is deluded. The guy's a human for fuck's sake, not a bloody machine (can you tell I'm getting angry now?). He can't write for 24 hours a day. More than that, just like anyone else, he's entitled to his free time. He needs his free time. So what if he blogs about NFL? So what if he blogs about politics? It's his blog - he can blog about whatever the hell he wants (Aidan, I'm afraid I completely disagree that he should only blog about ASOIAF!).
Oh, but it's distracting him from his writing, they say. He's wasting time that he could spend writing ASOIAF. More bullshit - check out Wert's post for the reason why that argument is a load of hot air.
Look, I'm as big a fan as the next person. ASOIAF is my all-time favourite fantasy series. I am looking forward massively to Dance. But I'm not being a tosser and whining about how long it's taking, and I just don't see why some people feel the need to. There's loads of excellent books by other authors out there, so go and read something else while you wait!
What many readers don't understand is that writing is an organic process. It ebbs and flows. It's not like a factory conveyor belt, churning out the same product every time. You have good days and bad days. Sometimes you hit a brick wall and can't get past it. Other times, you feel unstoppable. You just can't rush it. You have to take your time. Writing isn't easy, as some people think. It's bloody hard at times - as someone who's had work published before, I know this from personal experience. We just have to accept that Dance will be done when it's done, and only GRRM knows when that will be (or maybe not even he knows).
Look, I don't deny that GRRM made a mistake saying Dance would follow closely on the heels of Feast. With hindsight, that was the spark that led to all these pointless flame wars and I think GRRM would be the first to admit that he's learned a lesson. However, I wouldn't go as far to call him unprofessional, which is the stance that Speakman takes. Go ask his publisher and see if they give you the same answer - I doubt it somehow.
I admit the odd update on his progress would be appreciated. But even when he did give us updates, people complained about their lack of frequency. So he's criticised if he does give updates and criticised if he doesn't. No wonder it drove him nuts and he gave up on updates altogether. I think some people would only be satisfied if he updated us every day, and that is just never going to happen.
You know what riles me the most? The antifans that claim GRRM is rude/discourteous to his fans. That is a total crock of shit. I've met GRRM, and as I've said before, he's a true gent. Great sense of humour, very humble and really down-to-earth. When I told him I dabbled in short fiction, he asked me what I'd had published. He then gave me a few words of advice. Discourteous? Disrespectful? Hardly.
In fact, it's the antifans that are being disrespectful. Hurling abuse at a man that has given them so much enjoyment is childish, petulant and downright stupid. We should show GRRM the respect he deserves, and wait patiently while he makes Dance as good as it can be. If it takes another five years, then so be it. I'll still be here.