There was an “official” update about the status of book 6 in the Song of Ice and Fire series (one interesting aspect is that I found the news through the standard media, as GRRM now “ranks” as relevant news for the general public):
I have to admit that when I read it I felt very sympathetic with him. I’m definitely not one of those who pretends to “supervise” and correct someone else’s writing process, pretending to know better. So I have no reason to believe GRRM isn’t honest when he says he’s doing his best to write the book. Yet when I finished reading I still felt like there was a missing piece, and the more I thought about it, the more disappointed I was about that “honest” report, because there’s a way to look at it that isn’t honest at all, and that has nothing to do with “writing speed”, which is the only point GRRM directly addressed.
The incoherence is wholly contained in this quote:
My publishers and I have been cognizant of these concerns, of course. We discussed some of them last spring, as the fifth season of the HBO series was winding down, and came up with a plan. We all wanted book six of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to come out before season six of the HBO show aired. Assuming the show would return in early April, that meant THE WINDS OF WINTER had to be published before the end of March, at the latest.
Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you.
It seems that GRRM’s main concern was that for the first time the series would be ahead of the books, and it will spoil them. He said they were “cognizant” of this, and so made “a plan” to release the next book just in time, to avoid the spoilers.
But let’s say that instead Martin was successful and he had announced the very opposite: that he delivered the book and it was going to come out just BEFORE the show. Exactly as “planned”.
Don’t you see that it’s all completely pointless and misleading? This other scenario is one that cannot work. It’s an excuse. It cannot work because even if book 6 is out just in time to avoid spoilers, then the problem is just delayed to next year and the following. By then the TV series will be over, and it WILL have spoiled the actual finale, because if it was hard for him to match the end-of-the-year deadline, for sure he can’t even believe for a second he can write the actual final book in less than two years.
So how can you honestly tell me you and your publisher made a “plan” to avoid spoilers when you fail to address the REAL issue ahead? Spoilers for book 6 are a much lesser issue than spoilers for the actual ending. As if this whole plan was just something to throw in the eyes of the fans to distract them from actually giving hints of the REAL intent.
Because my concern is that all this was done deliberately to pave the way for something else entirely. So, ok, the book is delayed and fans will have to come to terms with this and the possibility of having the books spoiled (in the age of internet you can decide: you can be spoiled by watching the series, or you can be spoiled by inadvertently reading some random twat). Then book 6 comes out at some point, and the TV series concludes shortly after. What happens next? This leaves GRRM in the position of deciding what to do as the TV series already closed and while he’s about to start book 7. He will plausibly think that in order to make the books stand on their own, the more divergent the ending of the book series will be from the TV series, the better. In fact it’s this very idea that he is already encouraging in this last update. At that point it’s just the perfect occasion to announce that, nope, book 7 won’t be the final one. That “the story grew in the telling”, and that since now the series is behind him, then he can write another interim book in order to better set up a different kind of finale that branches out even more radically from the TV series and that will please everyone, solving whatever issue the fans will have with the the way the TV series ended.
And that’s the part that annoys me. Because you can absolutely say that writing speed is not something you can directly control as long you aim for a certain quality, and you cannot so simply “will it” to go faster. But it’s instead within a writer’s deliberation the choice of how many books to write a story. You cannot write faster, okay, but you can definitely decide to make the story and plot advance faster or slower. That’s a writing choice. So I feel different if not only the books are continuously delayed, that’s understandable, but when that’s matched by the series “expanding” further and sprawl across more books than intended, so that when the book comes out, after 6 years or so, it also covered much less plot than originally intended. That’s from my point of view one step too far. It weakens the trust that is put as the premise between author and reader about an ambitious plan that stretches out for many years.
But these are just my own speculations. The point stands that the “plan” he described is a false, incoherent one. Maybe there isn’t any “hidden” plan, and maybe he doesn’t even want to admit to himself what’s happening and he prefers to be delusional (“I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books”). But this still exposes a more important point: that he has no idea how he can complete this thing. He has no plan about a plausible end within a plausible timeframe on which the fans could invest some trust. And so there are these two alternative I see: one is the terrible plan I described above, the other is instead a complete lack of awareness GRRM has. As if he just decided to simply avoid thinking about it.
When he speaks about this GRRM always decides to defend himself by saying he can’t simply write faster, but he does this while failing to address the other aspect, the one he’s actually fully responsible of: having a plan for bringing this thing to a satisfying end. Knowing how many books are left. Knowing how things have to be set up in this penultimate 6th book so he’s in the position to actually write the finale in book 7.