A Bad Case of Martin-itis
Game of Thrones. Seems like everyone else is talking about it these days. Thus, I thought I’d throw a couple pennies onto the pile myself. What’s been on my mind lately concerning this massive beast of tale though doesn’t have much to do with the HBO series and whether or not it ended in a satisfying manner. Although from most reports, everything went belly-up pretty hard, but I haven’t been watching the series myself, so I can’t give any informed opinion on the matter.
The crux of what’s been rattling around inside my mind has more to do with the way that I’ve seen people dealing with not having the story they want to consume NOW. Makes me shake my head in shame. Wish I knew how to make gifs. A good head-shaker gif would have made an awesome image for this post. Now, I know that not everyone has imbibed on Game of Thrones–HBO or otherwise. I’ve read all the books so far, but haven’t seen any of the show. I talk to people at work frequently that have seen the shows, but haven’t taken a dive into the books. Our own Vanessa was only able to make it through the first book in the series before deciding that she’d never send another penny in the direction of that dirty old man ever again. The world brings all kinds of readers.
I just happen to be one of those people–a reader–and as much as I’d love to say that I’m a perfect, shining example of what every reader should be in this regard… I’m going to plead the fifth. I’m definitely not perfect in this matter. I still find myself bemoaning the fact that I can’t have the rest of THE EXPANSE (EBR Archive) dropped into my greedy little hands right this instant. Funny thing is, when one of those books actually does pop onto the market (as they have always done, at a ridiculously regular cadence) I slurp it all up as fast as I can. Then, within a couple weeks or so, I find myself wondering when the next book in The Expanse is coming out… and I realize that I just read it a little while ago. 🙂
There are loads of people out there bellyaching and complaining about how long the next book by so-and-so is taking to come out. Think about Robert Jordan (EBR Archive), back in the day. Jim Butcher (EBR Archive). Patrick Rothfuss (EBR Archive). Scott Lynch (EBR Archive) (On a positive note here, I did see a tweet from him just yesterday that he’d turned in a draft of The Thorn of Emberlain. Woo-hoo!). Still, because of the sheer size of his audience, right now George R.R. Martin is probably the one catching the most flak for taking forever to get his next book out.
Remember: authors are people too
In general, it bothers me when I see so much negative mess thrown at an author for not “putting out” as fast as their fans want them too. It’s important that we remember that they’re people too. Just like us. Just like you. Just like me. They get hungry. They get tired. They likely have a mortgage. They have friends and neighbors and have to go shopping. They have good days. And bad ones.
There are some aspects of being a writer that the common every day guy just doesn’t get. Do any of those complainers know how difficult it is to write a book, let alone a series? How much time and effort and brain-power, structuring and scheming and plain old BIC-HOK time? (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard) And then, as if that wasn’t hard enough, you have to throw it out to the churning masses and hope that they don’t absolutely hate it. Sometimes, I don’t know how they do it. Especially these days when so many have stopped talking about whether or not they actually liked the story, and just started ranting about how they think it’s racist, or bigoted, or sexist, or insert-your-favorite-descriptor here.
Remember: <<insert your favorite author here>> isn’t the only author out there
One of the absolute best things about the publication industry, in my opinion, is the sheer magnitude of the number of books that they’re putting out every year. Granted, not all of them are awesome. Yeesh, in some instances (like the YA genre) I can’t help but think that sometimes they’re just slapping a cover on any old story and pushing it out in hopes that someone will option it for a movie and make them all rich. There’s a lot of crap out there.
As it happens though, I seem to recall that there are a few people haunting this site that are willing to give you a great heads up as to what books are awesome. Because, whether it’s George R.R. Martin, or Joe Abercrombie, or Terry Goodkind (if this guy is your favorite author though, just please don’t tell us about it–ugh), your favorite author can only put out so much content and still maintain a semi-stable life. Well, okay, Brandon Sanderson might be an exception to that rule. Seems like that dude can bang out a story almost as fast as most three-year-olds can come up with their next question.
Still, there’s more out there to read, folks. There’s even more AWESOME out there to read! Some of it’s contained within series that are already done. Just because a series isn’t done though doesn’t mean it can’t be something spectacular. Yes, people, there is life after George, (Check out some of our Favorite Series here), and should you have the need to be reminded of this fact, we are here to help. 🙂
Remember: be courteous
The point I’m kind of driving toward here is that there’s really no call to be berating anyone about not having put out their most recent novel yesterday and how their readers deserve the book. Remember those authors I mentioned up above? Robert Jordan? You remember what happened to him? How long he was sick and still trying to write? Jim Butcher? Think everything in his life has been hunky dory these last few years? I doubt it. He’s been hard at work on the next Dresden Files book for a while now. One that, I’m convinced, is going to rip my freaking heart out, chew it to pieces, and spit it out across the floor. My favorite kind. Scott Lynch deals with some really serious anxiety issues. Would you think that tearing into someone like that would help any of us get the next book? Nope, nope, and nope.
Look, I don’t mean to be getting up on a soapbox here or anything, but this kind of stuff is important. Being an author is hard work. If you’re doing it right, it’s mentally and emotionally and sometimes physically taxing in the extreme. Why not give them the support that they need? If it was you behind all of those keystrokes, instead of them, wouldn’t that be what you wanted? Support from your fans? A rally-cry from the masses? Absolutely YES. So treat em right.
Although, there’s more to this business of an author publishing their next book. And as it happens, my argument has a second edge to it.
Thought I was just here to harp on the fans? Heck no! We’re fans too, here at EBR. And dangit, sometimes those freaking authors just don’t seem to get how important it is to us that we continue to get our next dose of this addictive drug called story. And there comes a point, regardless of absolutely anything that I’ve mentioned above, when an author just needs to be reminded that they’re an author and Authors Write Books. So, who better would there be, in this instance, to point the finger at than Mr. Martin himself? 🙂
Remember: this is your day job
Sometime, I think it can be difficult for some authors to remember this fact. Especially, for those that get to a point where they no longer have to write as quickly as possible in order to pay the bills. Yes? I once read an article by a published author that said he thought once an author had around five back-listed books in print, then there was usually sufficient financial stability to quit your day job. Regardless of where an author is in his or her financial stability vector though, it behooves them to remember that writing books has now turned into their day job. They didn’t leave their day job to wander around aimlessly and occasionally write some books. They quit their day job, where they were getting paid by a company, and instead started to work for themselves. But not only themselves, because in a way they’re working for us as well.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that they’re required to slave away at the keyboard every minute of every day and keep a time log that they report to their fans. Ugh. Why do so many absolutes get bandied about anytime someone starts talking. No. What I’m saying is that when it gets to the point that an author is actively ignoring a book and frittering away months and even years at a time in pursuit of other endeavors, they might need a slap to the face and a point in the right direction. Yeah?
Is there a line here? Not likely, and I’m not going to try and paint one. If you’re an author and you’re not working on your book though, then you know that you’re avoiding it, and you know that you need to fix the matter. Might not be clear to you exactly why you’re avoiding it, but one thing that always works… is working on the book. 🙂
As to the specifics of our case in point with Mr. Martin, here’s a list of the books he’s written and published so far:
- A Game of Thrones — pub. Aug 1996
- A Clash of Kings — pub. Feb 1999 — 2.5 years
- A Storm of Swords — pub. Nov 2000 — 1.75 years
- A Feast for Crows — pub. Nov 2005 — 5 years
- A Dance with Dragons — pub. July 2011 — 5.5 years
- Current date: May 2019 — 8 years
Again, I’m not trying to draw a line in the sand here. Just trying to make the suggestion that the publication schedule of these last few books might be getting a bit… excessively drawn out. I’d throw Patrick Rothfuss into the same ring here. I mentioned him earlier as well. Here’s what we know about his series:
- The Name of the Wind — pub. Mar 2007
- The Wise Man’s Fear — pub. Mar 2011 — 4 years
- Current date: May 2019 — 8 years
And don’t even get me started on the possibility that a first draft of all three books had been completed before the first book was ever published, or that this story is really just the prologue to the actual story. Yeesh. Granted, there’s likely a different issue going on here if the first draft of the third book was completed before Name of the Wind was ever published, but the fact still remains that the third book is still “coming soon”. Oddly enough he also happens to be one of those that likely doesn’t have to write to pay the bills anymore.
Remember: be professional
Look, the fact remains that regardless of what is in the best interests of the author, there are still people out there that are going to be absolutely stupid-mean to authors regardless of what they do. Joining in on the flogging that one is getting for not pumping out the books just happens to be something that they get their kicks and giggles from. Despite this fact, if you’re an author, you should always do your best to be professional. I’m not going to suggest that you always be respectful. There are absolutely people out there that will attack you and never show you a lick of respect. Still, I say always keep it professional. Because that’s what you are: a professional. Don’t treat your fans like jerks. Ever. I don’t care what they say. Read a blog post on Sam Sykes’s site where he talked about being on a panel and someone in the audience called out something to do with his opinion on Sam’s sexual preferences. Remember that bit about no respect I just mentioned? Yeah.
When it comes down to it, if you’re an author, then you need to remember why you started writing stories. And deciding if you want to keep doing that. Because if you do, you need to act like it. You need to tackle that book. Hit it hard. Make no bones about it, an author that doesn’t write isn’t an author.
If you’re a fan, be a fan. Stop the complaining. Genuinely curious? Deal. Throw up the question: how’s the next book coming along? And then take what the author deigns to give you as a response.
Waiting for more books from A Song of Ice and Fire? You could always read them again, if you can’t handle it. Or, you could actually go out and try reading something new. Never know. You may just find something that you like… GASP!… better.