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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Readers, Authors, and GRRM: Angry Over Waiting (for the next book)?

Apparently the blogosphere is alive with discussion of fan reactions to George R. R. Martin's rather long writing periods between installments of the A Song of Fire and Ice series. Some folks agree and are either dropping GRRM from their libraries or simply bitching about it; others are defending GRRM and bitching about everyone else.

My opinion on this matter probably won't make anyone happy. In fact, it might just tick off some folks who read this blog or know me. Now, I haven't read GRRM, obviously, but I've read plenty of other series, some of which have had relatively long wait times. The Harry Potter series took forever to finally be finished, but fortunately for that series, I didn't start reading all the books until the sixth one was about to be released; my wait was short. But there are other series that weren't so fortunate to have snatched me up late in the game. What happens to the authors of these series?

I drop them. Now hold on, hear me out. I don't drop them because they are bad authors/writers, nor because I'm pissed off that I have to wait. I drop them because I just don't care anymore. I've lost interest. I've moved on to other things. The thing is, waiting two or three or five years for the next book in a series is too much for me. I've stopped reading the Eragon books for this very reason; by the time Brisingr came out, I had lost interest. I like being able to stay connected to a series as it is being written, but those two plus year lulls contribute to my forgetfulness, and unfortunately there are few, if any, series I'm willing to read over and over to gain back the details I'll need to fully understand what is happening in the new installment. And I read too much as it is (for school, mostly) to dedicate an entire section of my brain to every minute detail of one series.

This, however, does not mean I think we should boycott authors or throw a fit when one takes too long. GRRM likely has damn good reasons for taking a hell of a long time to produce a book. I don't know. But if you're so upset with the author that it makes you red in the face, then maybe you should find someone else to read. GRRM doesn't need the stress from you haggling him ever ten seconds to hurry up with the next book and it's probably not healthy for someone to get ticked off every minute just because a book hasn't come out that you want. Give him some slack or drop him and find someone. Don't email him about it either. That's just rude.

And that is all. Any thoughts?

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  1. You're stupid. If it was ever worth reading in the first place it's worth waiting for another one.

  2. That's in your opinion. I'm simply the type of person that loses interest quickly. Waiting beyond a year for something is really difficult for me because I'll have moved on to something else. There are few series I've ever actually waited on and not lost interest, and it's not because the stories weren't good, it's just because those series I left couldn't satisfy me anymore.

  3. I don't think of the periods in-between his books as waiting for the next book. There's other stuff out there. I don't need to reread, analyze frantically, and pray every night. And the people who are pissed off and red-in-the-face -- I don't think it would be realistic for them to drop the series, but they can still go ahead and explore new authors instead of badgering the old ones.

    So I don't need to drop a series if the book takes ten years to come out. I will be more than slightly annoyed, but it's not like I can do anything about it. And dropping the series altogether and ignoring it when the book finally comes out makes no sense to me. Then again, I probably don't lose interest in GRRM because I spend half my life trying to convince other people to read the books ...

    I also know I don't need to e-mail him, ever -- there are another hundred people in the world doing it for me.

    On the other hand (I think I'm playing devil's advocate now), Imelda loves the series, but she's forgotten half the cast of the main characters. Granted, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I would have to recommend a rereading. I guess that might be annoying. And then again, despite having forgotten half the cast, she still has interest in the series. That's amazing, to me.

  4. I don't think anyone should be bugging any author about the length of time between books. The people bitching and moaning probably should shut up and find something else to read. If you really love a series, you can be patient. If you're not, just let it go and find something else.

  5. Another thing is that I actually think waiting is part of the fun.

    Okay, so maybe waiting five years isn't fun, but I don't think I would have liked Harry Potter half as much if I got to read every book one-right-after-another, the first time through. There wouldn't be time to become obsessed with it, or time to realize that everybody else is too, and once it's over, there isn't anymo -- what? She's considering writing an eighth book?


  6. True, but what if you had to wait, say, 15 years?

  7. The great thing about waiting indefinitely is that I don't know whether it'll be five years or fifteen or forever.

    I have enough faith to believe that it will not be forever.

    And again, in the mean time, there's much to do in the world.

    But my point about waiting=fun really only applies to times the wait is less than three years.

    I only give up in the sense that I give up until the next book comes out, even if it comes out twenty years from now.

  8. I think the problem is that a lot of folks hate having to be that patient. They believe that an author can produce a significant work in a year or two and that it shouldn't take upwards of three (maybe five or ten).

    Of course, the reality is that all authors are different and are not capable of being as prolific as, say, Philip K. Dick (who wrote a lot of pulpy, but wonderful novels of varying degrees of quality). GRRM is likely the kind of writer that really mulls over every inch of the writing process, which is perfectly fine, but he has to understand that we're an instant-gratification culture these days (or at least the rest of us have to understand this). Some fans will be quiet and wait, others will get pissed off at having to sit around for years on end. Then there are those like me that are more likely to move on to something else and possibly come back at a later date.

  9. Ah, I suppose it's time to start agreeing with you.

    But we can do as much about impatient readers as about (comparatively) non-prolific writers.

    I shall endeavor to control my own patience, and latch on to this new Dinklage-Tyrion rumor.

  10. Well true. But this post wasn't really about what to do with such people :P.