Death of a thousand rewrites

According to George R.R. Martin's Not A Blog, in an entry dated March 28, 2006--

With no more travel on my immediate horizons (there's Marcon in Ohio over Memorial Day, and then nothing until the summer), I have finally been able to settle down and get back into A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That's where most of my time and energy has gone of late. For the last week or so I have been back at the Wall with Jon Snow and the men of the Night's Watch. Jon, I think, will be one of the main beneficiaries of my splitting A FEAST FOR CROWS in two. I will have more room to deal with Jon and Stannis and the wildlings and the rest, which will allow me to flesh out their storylines more and bring them to a better resolution... but it's more than that. Although I had "completed" something on the order of five Jon chapters before deciding to divide the book, I was never really happy with them, and rereading them now has reinforced my feelings. They need to be much stronger, and I believe I see how to do that now. Sometimes putting things on the back burner can work wonders. That where the muse lives (or the moose, as Parris sometimes calls her).

Oh, and I've also come up with a new title for the seventh (and final, I hope, I hope, I hope) volume of the series -- A DREAM OF SPRING. I like the sound of that a lot better than A TIME FOR WOLVES, which has been my working title for book seven up to now, and I also think it gives a better sense of the book that I want to write. So -- A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, then THE WINDS OF WINTER, then A DREAM OF SPRING. Shouldn't take me long (hah).

Now, there are people out there who would leap in the air, click their heels together with a mighty KRAK!, and shout "Huzzah!" at this news. They would no doubt opine, in the most steadfastly and obnoxiously cheerful tones, that this is a good, nay, even a wonderful thing -- we might have ended up with five or more substandard chapters of Jon Snow On The Wall material, but now, NOW, thank whatever gods there be, that brilliant genius George R.R. Martin has taken the time to go back and dig in and really do them up proud!

There are people out there who would say that, and some of them may even say it in these comment threads, and how they will manage to type all that in while still keeping their lips firmly affixed to George R.R. Martin's "I type nearly as fast as glaciers move" ass I have no idea, but they'll do it anyway. Most likely, they have a lot of practice at it.

However, as you may have guessed, their view is not my view. My view is reflected in the response "OH JESUS CHRIST HE JUST SET US BACK ANOTHER SIX FUCKING MONTHS I'M GOING TO KILL SOMETHING!!!!"
Okay, look... I want a writer to turn in what he or she thinks is their best work, too. I really do. But when a writer has dicked me over as long and as comprehensively as George R.R. Martin has, waiting for the next installment of this frickin' endless goddam fantasy series, and he's been promising us FOR YEARS that we'll get the next installment in a reasonable time period, well, I get to a point where I'm not so much worried about seeing his BEST work, I just want to see SOME OF IT, before I fucking die. This latest book he's working on now is actually the second half of the installment that was published over a year ago, said entire book which we had already waited four fricking years for. Not a joke, not a dream, not an Imaginary Story... FOUR. FRICKIN'. YEARS. And we were told, when the first half of this book came out, that the second half would be out within another year at the most. And now it's BEEN a year, and...

Okay. DEEP breath.

To understand my frustration with this even slightly, let me reproduce this excerpt from Martin's website, dated 1/24/06:

As of this writing, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS consists of some twenty-two finished chapters totalling 542 manuscript pages, plus another 100 to 150 pages of partial chapters, early drafts, scenes, and fragments. Some of that material will need to be revised, and of course much more remains to be written. My hope is to bring the book in at around 1200 to 1300 pages.

Anyway, that's how things stand at the end of January. I will try and update again around the beginning of April.

—George R.R. Martin, January 24, 2006

So, you know, ever since the end of January, I've been checking back, even though, of course, George R.R. Martin never does a single goddam thing he's promised those of us making him a wealthy man off the proceeds of this frickin' goddam fantasy series on schedule, much less ahead of schedule, and here it is, around the beginning of April, and there's no new update. But, in his kinda-sorta blog, well, he advises us that he's finally found time in his busy schedule to sit down and work on the second half of a book he's owed us for five years now, and what's the first thing he's going to do? REWRITE FIVE FUCKING CHAPTERS FROM SCRATCH.

This is not progress.

Don't even make me tell you that the stuff on Jon Snow is, probably, what I have been most looking forward to for the past four years, and what I was most disappointed to find missing from A FEAST FOR CROWS. And especially don't force me to go into anal, geeky detail about 'crows' meaning, in this series' lexicon, The Night Watch, which Jon Snow is currently the Lord Commander of, and any book set in this particular fantasy reality called A FEAST FOR CROWS that omits anything to with the Night Watch is, well, just plain frickin' WRONG, that's what it is.

And now, he's throwing out five chapters on Jon Snow and starting over...!

I swear to God, the last half of the latest book is going to take another four years to come out, and he's still projecting two more books at least in the series... barring immortality drugs appearing on the market in the near future, I will be an old, old man by the time this thing finally finishes up.

I'm currently halfway through rereading the second of these, with the intention of rereading all four of them sequentially. I was hoping by the time I was done the fifth one (which is actually the last half of the fourth one, remember) would be out, but that seems wildly unlikely now. Which is just as well, I have a huge pile of unread stuff in my IN stack that's been waiting for me for months now, including:

RED THUNDER by John Brunner
KILN PEOPLE by David Brin

and, I don't know, three or four others I can't remember right now, all of which I'd also like to read sometime before I die.

And, putting all this petty stuff neatly in perspective, I just got an emergency email and called home and found out that Super Adorable Kid has jacked herself up pretty good climbing around like a monkey at home on things she shouldn't have been climbing around on. She's all right, but according to SuperGirlfriend (who arrived as if shot out of a catapult after she got an emergency phone call from the Super Kids, who are home on spring break right now), she "looks like Edward G. Robinson".

So, I guess I shouldn't sweat a lousy fantasy novel, but just be grateful for better fortune in more important areas.

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