Monday, 6 October 2008

Stop the whining, please

Thanks to Larry for pointing this one out: a blog devoted entirely to some individual's pathetic whining about how long it's taking for George R. R. Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons.

Here's some of the bullshit this chump's been spouting:

"I was criticized for comparing GRRM to Erikson. All I was pointing out was the fact that Erikson writes every day, since it is his job, he is a writer. Am I asking George to do this? No. I'm just asking that he at least pretends to show that he cares. All we hear from him is what trip he was on, what convention, what pizza he ate on the east coast, what he is reading, what new products he has for us.

I mean seriously, have you every seen so much merchandising for a book series that A) isn't completed or B) hasn't been made into a movie? But as long as we are on topic, I will cite another poster who said Terry Pratchett comes out with a book every six months, Erikson, since 1999 has come out with 8 books that deal with the Malazan series, plus 5 other novellas that deal with Malazan, and 3 other novels. His books are just as long and detailed as GRRMs; in fact, i find them to be even more in-depth than Martin.

Robin Hobb, since Assassin's Apprentice (1995) has come out with four different trilogies. Terry Goodkind, another series of grand scale, started in 1994, has come out with 11 books in his series. I could go on, but my point is, yes all writers are different, but at least these writers, especially those who write books in a series, do all seem to have the same thing in common...they work."

Yeah, maybe Erikson, Hobb and Goodkind all release books more quickly than GRRM. But none of them are as good a writer as GRRM is (Goodkind is not even close) and their work is not of the same standard. GRRM is writing what many (myself included) consider to be the best work of epic fantasy since LOTR. You just can't rush this sort of undertaking. The mention of Pratchett is ridiculous; he doesn't even write in the same sub-genre!

"They (the above authors) respect their fans enough to continue to work on their novels and to release them in a timely manner."

Terry Goodkind respecting his fans? Good one. I mean, he only managed to slag off half his readership in that infamous interview that was posted on his website a few years back.

Don't for one minute try and feed me that shit about GRRM not caring about his fans. When I met GRRM at one of his book signings, he was one of the most humble, polite people I've ever met. When I got my book signed, I asked him if he could scribble 'Best of luck with your writing.' Not only did he do that, but he actually asked me what I was writing and we chatted about that for a couple of minutes. On the two occasions I've emailed him, I've received a response both times - which is more I can say of many authors. Overall, I struggle to think of an author who cares about his fans more.

"I'm not asking the guy to plug 10 hour shifts just to finish Dance, but its been what? Two years since A Feast of Crows? If I am not mistaken, I believe it took over 4 years between Storm of Swords and Feast. I would think a writer, who knew where his story was going, would at least by accident be able to punch out two novels over a five year period, unless that writer was just milking this thing for all it's worth, and that is just what the big man seems to be doing."

Just what does this guy want, exactly? You get the impression that these twats whining about the length of time it's taking GRRM to write Dance are the same ones who whined about Feast not being as good as Sword. It means GRRM is in an impossible position - if he quickly bangs out a sub-standard book, the whiners will complain it's not up to the standard of the earlier books. If he spends four years working to get it right, the whiners complain about the time it's taking. When you look at it like this, you can see why GRRM got pissed off with all the shit being posted on his journal in the first place.

The way I see it personally is quite simple. A Feast for Crows was, in my own estimation, disappointing. Therefore, I want the next novel to be as good as possible. If it takes George five years to write a novel this good, then I'll wait. Quality beats quantity.

Yes, the delay can be frustrating for fans of the series...but there's plenty of other decent fantasy to read while we're waiting. And as for all those 'fans' who bleat about how George doesn't care anymore, how he's working too slowly, how he's showing a lack of respect, etc: you're acting like prissy kids who are whining about not getting enough pocket money. It's not George that is lacking respect - it's you.

Still, I must admit that their worthless views make entertaining lunchtime reading.


Anonymous said...

Well, I remember feeling a little impatient waiting for A Feast For Crows. Even though my favorite characters weren't even going to be in it (horrible, horrible choice, to split the story like that, in my opinion). Couldn't get half way through it.

Personally, I totally agree that a writer should take however long he/she requires to create the best work possible. I'm all for ignoring whiney complainers and doing your work at your own pace. After all, whatever you put out is out there forever. Better to take a little extra time to make it great than to rush it out when it's not as good as it could be.

Then again, I'm not sure this point is relevant for said GRRM series anymore. But, like James said, there's plenty of other fantasy out there.

James said...

Robert, there's nothing wrong with feeling impatient when you're really looking forward to a certain novel and it seems to be taking a long time for it to surface.

But whining online and launching personal attacks at the author is just a really stupid thing to do. Not to mention ignorant, as the majority of these numbskulls don't even understand what writing a complex, multi-layered novel involves.

If the novel comes out quickly but is mediocre, they'll whine. If the novel takes longer to appear because the author is trying to get it as good as possible, they'll whine. Some people just have nothing better to do than act like spoilt brats. ;)

And yes, I agree - splitting Feast like that was a pretty bad move imo, but GRRM did what he thought was best. And I think the next novel is going to be amazing.

Jebus said...

I actually quite liked Feast despite it missing Tyrion - it was kinda nice not to read about that doofus Jon for a while ;-P

I can understand the whining and I can understand why. If the blog is tongue-in-cheek then it is OK, but if it is totally serious (and it does seem that way) then that is just not on.

When Daniel Abraham was having his symposium thing I asked a question on there about authors and publishers and if authors should have a duty of care, or some sort of accountability at least, to their readers/publishers and all that hullabaloo. I was honestly interested to find out how publishers treat authors who do delay on their novels for whatever very valid reasons they may have. GRRM is an established and best-selling author so I imagine that if there are delays then the publisher pretty much accepts them. But at the same time in every single other business on the planet, you have accountability and deadlines for what you deliver and in any other situation as a writer that I can think of (newspaper, script, magazine, web site, businesses of every single design or description) if someone was this late on a project they'd be fired on the spot.

In the end it's a business and as a publisher I reckon I'd be kinda pissed off with GRRM at the moment (the guy does seem to have a lot of hobbies). But if the man delivers on what his previous novels have promised then I have no problem with waiting (so long as I don't or he doesn't die before the end).

In the end whining about it is pointless but I really am honestly interested, if not fascinated, as an outsider (reader) looking in and wondering what kind of behind-the-scenes goings on are there to either shimmy an author along or even dump them if they are not delivering the goods (obviously that won't happen to GRRM).

James said...

Jebus: Good post. I agree: tongue-in-cheek whinging is ok, but anything that amounts to a serious personal attack is just stupid.

I do agree that GRRM does have a lot of projects on, and I do wish he'd concentrate on ASOIAF a bit more, but as long as the book is great when it finally comes then I've got no problem waiting. Throwing a frilly-cuffed strop (like some muppets seem to do) just doesn't solve anything.

As for your other points, check out this blog might answer your question to some extent:

Adam Whitehead said...

The thing is that I can honestly 100% understand why people are frustrated. ADWD will come out a lot sooner after AFFC than AFFC did after ASoS, which normally would be a good thing. But, GRRM put that note in the back of AFFC saying the book would would be out only one year later. That is the one event from which everything else follows.

Of course, for AFFC to come out just one year later, he'd have to stuck to using the chapters left over from AFFC, the same book which a lot of people thought was subpar. So he decided to rewrite it to make it stronger, although this would delay the book...and then everyone jumps on him for taking too long to deliver the book. It's the literary equivalent of the Kobyashi Maru.

And of course there's the Robert Jordan precedent. He said he knew whilst writing Book 10 he may have made a bad call, but chose to release it anyway. The result was 1500 one-star reviews on Amazon and a lot of potential new readers put off from reading the (decent) earlier books. Book 11 was okay and repaired some of the damage, but even if Book 12 is the single greatest fantasy novel published in the last generation, the series as a whole has still suffered irrevocable damage to its quality and reputation from the mess than was Book 10. I don't know if that's a factor in GRRM's decisions, but certainly it could be a cautionary tale that writers should be very careful before they release substandard work.

James said...

Good post Adam. Yeah, I understand people's frustrations too, but it just doesn't justify all the bullshit mudslinging that has ensued. GRRM is going to take as long as he wants, and no amount of vitriol is going to change his mind.

I'd rather wait 10 years and have a killer novel, than wait two and have a disappointing one. GRRM is clearly thinking along the same lines, the whingers be damned.

Jebus said...

I think much of the problem here is that these days readers have a lot more contact - either in the flesh or online - with authors. Before the interwebs the only times I ever found out an author's book was out was when it was on the shelf or when the bookseller said it should be on the shelf (and usually wasn't).

The apparent transparency of the internet and the posting of such personal information means people are assuming they know what GRRM's workload must be like. Sure he watches NFL, sure he travels to cons, sure he does renovations, sure he eats food, visits friends, watches movies, reads books - but I'm pretty damn sure he did all these things before the internet came a'knockin', and probably did just as much if not more!

But because he doesn't detail that he did 4 hours of writing today, or 3 hours of revising and 2 hours of new writing, or whatever, people assume that these other activities are eating into his writing hours.

I work a 40 hour work week and I still manage to fit in quite a few hobbies so I'd be pretty sure that GRRM is writing for many more hours than some people obviously think. I guess this is the catch 22 of an author (or anyone) revealing what they do on a day to day basis. It's almost like certain readers expect him to account for each minute of the day so that they can be assured that he is actually being an author and not a bum.

I think the above came across the way I wanted it to...

Anonymous said...

hi all,i think grrm did many mistakes.first,after asos he had 5 years of time to decide how he will the book and how the book(affc)should be.
second,he split it.
third, he let a comment on the affc that the other half will be released as soon .but he later never mentioned about that(apologizing or sorries).
fourth he knows verry well that the fans waitin and waitin but he not much givin infos about progress.
fifth,we know he wrote over thousand pages of scripts.instead of 700 paged book he can cut a couple of chapters and had to releasethe book.

and we are want more of his created world,sidestories and much more.instead of seven books he can make about the serie ten books or more but to release in 1 or 2 years gap.
he must not to trying to get a bestseller on NYT list.maybe not win the damn HUGO.
sorry i have no account on google.

James said...

Jebus: Great post, and I completely agree.

SweetMartin: I agree to some extent that Martin could have handled the situation better. We all make mistakes though.

Yes, he did say that Dance would be out soon, but that was before he decided to re-write it because of the lukewarm reaction to Feast.

I don't think Martin has any real responsibility to give us frequent updates - the fact that he bothers at all is commendable in my opinion, as many authors just wouldn't bother.

Adam Whitehead said...

I would caution against concluding that GRRM decided to rewrite ADWD based on the reception for AFFC. I think that may have been part of it, but I think it's more to do with the structural problems introduced to the series by introducing a new book that was not supposed to exist (AFFC) to the mix.

I suspect one of the biggest problem he has is that he decided to bring forward events from after the now-abolished five-year gap to give AFFC a dramatic ending (Cersei getting arrested, Brienne confronting Stoneheart etc). However, these were events that would have likely come much earlier in the originally-planned (post-gap) fourth book and given it its spine. The split in narrative also means he has characters on different timelines, which is no doubt also proving difficult to fully resolve, especially as ADWD is supposed to last seveal months longer than AFFC, but he needs to reconcile the two for Book 6.

It's a very complicated situation he's gotten himself into and no mistake.

Adam Whitehead said...

I just realised by last two posts read like they were contradicting one another.

Just to be clearer, I know that GRRM was well aware of the criticisms delivered against AFFC and he spoke about them at several cons after the book came out, but I do not know if that was foremost in his mind when he chose to restructure and rewrite the parts of ADWD he had left over from before. It may have not contributed at all or it may have been a major factor. I suspect the structural problems and the HBO deal would have been more important factors (since due to the HBO deal the series apparently now needs to end in 7 books, not 8).

Anonymous said...

me again.if we complain or wheep to Martin or to kneel down before him or if we took the black,i think that will change nothing.
it is now and today.but today after 8 years since we had heard anythink from some characters.and we dont know how long it will be take.if ADWD will released next year(2009),then it will take 9 years.
9 years or more fans have nothing from their loved characters,that is maybe a little bit frustrating,not?
and in 9 years other authors have began and finished their series.
neither me nor we cannot force grrrm to write anything down,but he should be realist and to have the decency to say he cannot finish asoiaf.
i think(hope) i was not to savage.


Anonymous said...

I bet that guy will be queuing up for its release though!

I've only had the chance to read the first book and some of his other works like Dream Songs but I've been pretty impressed with his series so far. He can take all the time he likes as far as I'm concerned. I've got plenty to get through in the meantime. :)

I read somewhere that he will be visiting Melbourne in 2010 for World Con which should be pretty exciting for us down under. I'll have to think of something to ask him to write on my copy of AGOT, probably along the lines of "Stop procrastinating and write!". XD