The OF Blog: Whose monkey is the author, anyways?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Whose monkey is the author, anyways?

So George R.R. Martin didn't finish his fifth novel, A Dance With Dragons, before leaving for a one month trip to Spain and Portugal. Based on a few responses I've read, one would have wondered if he had been found guilty of child abuse:

"*shrug* I'll probably never finish the series now. It's been too long and I don't really care anymore. Sorry George."

"I hope these tours are bringing in enough new fans to compensate for the ones he has/will lose. I'm really starting to get frustrated with this. aDwD was half done(ish) when aFfC was finished. This is getting ridiculous.

He just seems to have too many projects and indulgences to focus on. There is a reason why I don't go out very often when I'm in school: work doesn't get done."

"It's not like that this is the series that made him famous or anything.

Why should fans expect him to actually write the next book in the series? It seems like he has a stadium full of monkeys with typewriters and is waiting for them to write the book for page at a time.

I mean, the book was half written 4 years ago. What the hell?"

"Bottom line is, if you don't want to hear that complaint stop posting about the series being delayed again and again. The more it gets delayed, the more it seems like he is miffing with us fans."

"whatev, I'm entitled to be pissed off with the delays...I appreciate that the creative process takes time, I understand the desire to have a standard of work associated with your name, but GRRM's explanations are beginning to equate to a huge pile of prima donna BS as far as I'm concerned.
What, did he lose his writing-mojo after ASOS, and is now so painfully insecure about what he's putting on paper?
To hell with this, I'm deleting towerofthehand and westeros from my Fav. links folder, Amazon will let me know when my book has been shipped..."
While part of me can sympathize with the frustration, the desire to have things now, mo'fo!, I have to admit that the attitudes are quite offputting. "Huge pile of prima donna BS," as if an author explaining him/herself is akin to telling people to go screw themselves. "It's been too long and I don't really care anymore," as if such sentiments express anything other than petulance on the part of the "fan" and not the author. Makes me wonder why so many authors even bother to share anything in regards to plans, sample chapters, etc. beforehand publicly. I guess beyond a certain point, it stops becoming smart promotion/advertising/fan appreciation, turning into a potential liability (as what certainly seems to be the case with the SOIAF fans, who apparently are not Martin fans in general).

I suppose authors place their feet in their mouths when they try to project this or that about release times before the main work has been done on the writing project. I guess it's a good thing that Tolkien wrote in the 1930s-1950s, since LotR wasn't released until almost 20 years after The Hobbit and it certainly went through quite a few revisions. But "fans" don't want to hear about revisions or doing anything else. They want "their" favored work complete ASAP and don't stop to shit or sleep, apparently. I'm surprised more authors haven't told these people to go pleasure themselves with a rotten potato, although I admit it gives me perverse pleasure to imagine Harlan Ellison in place of Martin and guessing what his response would be to the vast number of internet commentators. Considering that he's still working on that follow-up to Dangerous Visions almost 40 years certainly would give pause to those who are upset about a 3 year break between stories.

But it is odd seeing, again and again, people who seem to think that authors are little more than trained monkeys who have to operate quickly to arbitrary expectations. I can't help but wonder if any of these people work in service industries and have had to deal with similar assholes always demanding so much so fast and without any courtesy or respect.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. There are so many books out there that deserve to be read that it scarcely seems to matter if I have to wait another year or two to read the next installment of ASoIaF. I'll read it when it comes out, and in the meantime, enjoy plenty of other books.

Lsrry said...

I do have my favorite authors that I'll buy as soon as a new book of theirs is released, but I've been so busy with discovering so many others that obsessing about one particular author is a bit baffling to me.

Anonymous said...

i agree with you too... I am always dissapointed when I finish a book and I can't get the next in the series, but I get over it in oh, a day or so, before I find the next interesting thing on the shelf...

i've seen similar opinions about translations: people complaining that so-and-so series is translated too slow. sometimes they were right, sometimes they weren't, but considering that some of the books has been published years apart, waiting a few months doesn't seem so difficult.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with you, but in this one case...the REAL previous volume in the series, the one about the characters and situations in which readers are invested, was published in Summer 2000.

An 8 year wait on a such a complex ongoing story really is a bit much.

RobB said...

The GRRM Dead Horse rears its head with increasing regularity.

Lsrry said...

I used to threaten people with rabid lemurs over on wotmania, Rob, whenever the topic of AFfC's release date came up. Maybe I should bring them back?

Gabriele Campbell said...

Rabid lemurs won't be enough. You'll need some chicken that are no chicken. :)

Lsrry said...

I had thought about employing rabid, vampiric squirrels, but that would be going nuclear, no?

Ran said...

I think you're exactly right that at a certain point, an author's openness becomes a liability. More specifically, perhaps, a popular author of a multi-volume work may find it a liability when the next volume is delayed for whatever reason. Then the trolls come out to play, taking advantage of GRRM's gregariousness.

Gabriele Campbell said...

It's basically one troll. GRRM (or his secretary) keep banning the little twat, but since you can only ban LJ accounts, not the user IR, he comes back with a new account, like a bad joke.

I haven't looked into Blogger (the one troll I have I keep because he's actually cute in a trollish way), but you can ban IRs in Wordpress. Maybe GRRM should move away from LJ. :)

Lsrry said...

I think it's just part of a larger sense of "entitlement" that many people feel in regards to so much of their everyday lives. The fact that Martin is so open just throws fuel on the spoiled, selfish fire. Two to five year waits between novels is common for most novelists, but I guess since some are spoiled by those who seem to be churning out rush jobs, it must be an eternity...

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