‘The Winds of Winter’ won’t be finished for a while. Time to get off GRRM’s back.

At just before midnight-thirty MST, GRRM confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Winds of Winter is not finished. He is “months away still” from a deliverable product. Upsetting news, but I’m finding myself more compassionate than disappointed. We should all collectively get off of GRRM’s back.

Not how we wanted to start the new year.
Not how we wanted to start the new year.

I run a Tumblr blog, When Will The Winds of Winter Blow, and had been carefully watching over GRRM’s Not A Blog since I realized he was going to do a year-end wrap-up that was going to include an update on The Winds of Winter. He was supposed to do that on NYE, but a catastrophic failure involving LiveJournal, his blogging platform of choice, deep-sixed that post. It was too long, WAY too long, and too graphic- and image-heavy to recreate that night, he said. It was going to be a complete rehashing of the triumphs and disappointments of his 2015, and he’d do a series of smaller, more easily digestible posts, as he felt he should have initially.

As promised, the next day GRRM began churning out posts at 2:30 pm, Sante Fe time, taking us through his amazing year. Everything he’s done, every place he’s traveled, every award he’s received, every project he’s started and finished – it’s quite enviable, even if it’s left many of us frustrated that his amazing, action-filled life is detracting from his progress. I gave updates as he did, but as midnight my time approached (I’m EST), it became increasingly clear that he was not going to post about Son of Kong before midnight, my time or his. I went to bed knowing that the world, the part of it still awake and with more stamina than I have, was going to know the update before I did. Meh.

Turns out it was for the best. GRRM gave us the update we all needed, but that none of us wanted. The Winds of Winter isn’t finished. The Winds of Winter won’t be finished for a while. HBO’s Game of Thrones will premiere before The Winds of Winter is finished, let alone sent to the printing house.

It is said that we smug book readers (I admit my smug foreknowledge wholeheartedly) are more disappointed that we’ll be on even footing with show watchers than we are that we won’t have the book at all, but that’s only partially true. The show takes creative license with increasing frequency each season, and as GRRM points out, there have been characters killed on show who are still alive in the books, characters who have long since bought the farm on page are still alive on the show, and important characters with important, impactful storylines have not even been introduced to the show. In my opinion, book readers will always have the advantage, because the showrunners have gutted much of the story, so even if we see ‘the what’ at the same time as show watchers, we book readers will more readily understand ‘the why’. Unless they pull another Sansa rape-type deal, which I think many of us are still struggling to understand ‘the why’. I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that while we won’t have a precise edge anymore, it won’t make much difference, because the show is the show, the books are the books, and rarely have the twain met over the last, what, three seasons? I think we book readers will survive.

Which is why I’m imploring us all to give the poor guy a break. Maybe he made us a promise that not only would The Winds of Winter be finished before the show, but perhaps A Dream of Spring, as well. I can see why, when the ink was still drying on his contract with HBO, he’d feel that way. There are 10 seasons of material in the published books easy. Perhaps he didn’t know, as many of us didn’t, that HBO would only do 10 episodes a season, and try to do a season per book. Perhaps HBO underestimated just how insanely popular (and profitable) this series would be, and set that benchmark for reasons of fiscal soundness. Had HBO stayed truer to the books and thus made more episodes a season, or made the choice to have more than a season per book a lot earlier, GRRM would have had a lot more breathing room, all else being equal. But HBO didn’t decide to do more than a season per book, nor did they decide to do more than 10 episodes a season, and here we are. It was an honest mistake.

While we’re being honest, could any of us say that we wouldn’t have taken advantage of all the opportunities that the popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones has afforded GRRM? I mean, he’s traveled the world, bought a movie house, a bowling alley, an art conclave, increased sales of both the ASOIAF series and his other works…I could go on and on. Plus, by his own admission, he’s not one to flourish under pressure, something many of us can relate to, I’m certain.

By his own account, the final post of The Lost Post was not one he ever wanted to write, and he’s disappointed with himself as things relate to his rate of progress on The Winds of Winter. I can’t tell GRRM how to feel, but I don’t think he should be disappointed. There hasn’t been a sample chapter yet released that I haven’t loved, and I’m actually happy to know that he’d rather miss the several deadlines he has already to make sure that The Winds of Winter is a high-quality tale, one that’s not rushed to appease book fans that simply want the ability to say ‘but in the books’ at the water cooler on Monday mornings.

The Winds of Winter is not finished. The Winds of Winter won’t be finished for a while. That’s ok. Make sure you give GRRM your support, not admonishment. He’s given us a wonderful gift in all of the currently published ASOIAF works, for which I at least am ever grateful. Pick them up, give them (yet another) re-read, and perhaps by the time you’re done, so too will be The Winds of Winter. We can only hope.