I’ve professed this before.
Neil Gaiman is a god.
Or maybe he’s just a very talented writer with a fantastic imagination who has the ability to succinctly make a point with a flare!
A few days ago on his Journal, Gaiman decided to answer a question posed him by a fan concerning the perceived lateness of A Dance With Dragons by George. R. R. Martin. My thoughts on this were documented in my article In Defense of George R. R. Martin, so it won’t surprise anyone that I fall on the side of Gaiman and his opinion.
Gaiman sums it up quite nicely with one sentence:
“George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.”
That’s right! He said it! George is not your bitch.
Pause. Soak it in. Become one with the philosophy.
It is important to point out that Gaiman didn’t need to answer that question. He decides which questions to answer and post on his Journal. The spite many send toward Martin is a spite most authors are aware of on some level; I can’t even tell you how many author events I’ve attended where a fan asks the writer what they think of George R. R. Martin. For whatever reason, Gaiman felt it necessary to chime in on the subject.
You can read the entirety of his thoughts on his May 12th Journal!
Gaiman makes some great points. I’ll post two I think are important.
First, he makes an excellent point about what people really pay for.
For some reason fans feel like they are owed something after buying a book. Well, they are owed something—that book, and that’s it. You pay for the pages, the ink and the story between those two covers and nothing else. By buying the first book in a series you do not put a down payment on future ink used in future books and are owed those books simply because you purchased one book. That’s not how it works.
In combination with that, readers need to take responsibility for their own actions. Every single George R. R. Martin fan knew when they began reading A Song of Ice & Fire that it was a series, especially after reading the first book. That means it is going to take time to see the final book in the series completed. Warranted the story grew in the telling before A Game of Thrones was even published, and George took one 18 month break while finding his way through the story, but every single reader out there has a choice to read or not read.
They act as though they don’t have a choice. They do.
In my case, when I realized it takes George on average three years to write a book, I stopped reading the series. I made that choice. Believing George should write faster than three years per book is like trying to herd jaguars.
It is going to end badly for the herder.
Second, something I spoke about in my own article, a writer is best at what he does when he has a life. Closeting a writer behind closed doors stagnates the writing. Talk to any writer about this and they will tell you the same. That’s why Gaiman brought it up. He has obviously seen many of the same comments I’ve seen online or in bookstores—George just needs to chain himself to his desk and finish the darn thing. That would be catastrophic and would damage the book.
And then people would be screaming he wrote a crap book!
Catch 22 anyone?
So, what’s the point?
Everyone needs to take some responsibility. That includes George. But more pointedly, that includes his readers.
I’m happy Gaiman spoke out. I’m happy to see other people doing the same.
I have no doubt we will see more articles like this until A Dance With Dragons is published.
At least Pat Rothfuss turned in the manuscript for Wise Man’s Fear…
… that will be one less argument to debate!