Last week, I sat back and watched, with a bit of interest, as a bunch of people just lost their chit over the news that George RR Martin has irons in the fire that will likely mean that it'll be even longer before the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. People have been waiting for The Winds of Winter for a freaking long time and are pretty pissed off that he's diverting his attention to things other than getting that book done.
I saw more than one, "I'm done, I'm never reading his stuff again" comment. I understood the frustration, but honestly, I rolled my eyes a little bit.
I get that people are worried this will be another Robert Jordan situation, with the author dying before finishing the series. Some are worried that he doesn't have the rest of it plotted out, ready for another writer to continue on in the manner than Brandon Sanderson was able to for Jordan (and he probably doesn't, though I have no sure way to know that.)
But. Here's the thing. He doesn't really owe anyone anything. He doesn't owe anyone his time. He doesn't owe anyone an ending.
Would it suck? Certainly. If he never finishes the series, it sucks for the people who have enjoyed it so thoroughly that waiting for the next one feels like waiting for Santa.
He's always taken his time with his books. He's said himself that as far as writing goes, he's less of an architect and more of a gardener--which is likely why so many people love his work. He doesn't construct an elaborate outline, and then plop the words down and force them to fit into that constrained frame; he lets the characters develop, he tends to the words like plants sprouting from balanced, fertilized soil. He takes his time because that's how he works, and no amount of wishing on his readers' part will change that.
Literal quote online: "I've spent half my life reading these books. I'm tired of waiting."
Well, sorry for you, but he's also spent more than half your life writing them, caring for them, crafting them, and honing the stories which you're so eager to read. Yes, you've grown up, gotten married, had kids, divorced, lived life.
The man is entitled to live his life, too. And part of that life is stepping away from the computer to engage in other things.
He doesn't owe you the time he takes for himself.
It's great when a writer can give the readers exactly what they ask for...and yet, when we do that, we get slammed down for it as well. The Space Between Whens was written mostly because of requests; people wanted a more adult story, and a few outright wanted a little Emperor erotica, though I didn't want to go that far. It worked to take the story in that direction; after the next book, it'll work to take it back in the other direction.
But make no mistake, for every person who enjoyed the Wick After Dark theme, there's someone else who's pissed off by it.
Guess who I hear from?
I can't win. Neither can Martin. Only his not winning is on a much grander scale.
Just be patient. He'll get to it. And if he doesn't, well, then he doesn't. You still read and enjoyed his other books, and not having the next one right now doesn't take anything away from that enjoyment unless you let it.
Yes, the things he's working on are sidebars to the series, and it feels personal. But it's not. It's what can make the difference between finishing the series on an I-had-to-finish note and an I-finished-and-damn-it's-awesome note. Those side projects might be what's keeping that elusive sixth book from becoming a steaming pile of crap; he's diverting his attention and refreshing himself.
Granted, he could be far less off-putting when asked about the book, but when it gets right down to it, he doesn't owe you, me, or anyone else a single thing.