George R.R. Martin “pleased” with The Winds of Winter progress

Game of Thrones fans have been waiting nearly a decade for The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and the wait is very much not over. But Martin is talking more about his progress, which should give fans reason to hope…with some caveats.

Martin unloaded in a new post on his Not a Blog, talking more openly about Winds than usual. “If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write,” he said of the world’s current quarantine crisis. “I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress. I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.”

But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week. It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go. Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.

Huh. Who do you think he’s talking about?

In any case, it’s good to hear that he’s making progress on the book; he even name-dropped some of the characters he’s been working with. “Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah. I will be dropping back into Braavos next week.”

Who else gets excited reading that? How will Cersei try to bounce back after her walk of shame, with her uncle dead and Varys scheming in the walls of the Red Keep? How will Tyrion’s strategies work in the coming Battle of Fire in Meereen? There’s so much good stuff right around the corner.

That said, while he’s “pleased” with the way things are going overall, Martin still wishes they would go faster. “Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month. I fear I shall never recapture that pace again. Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.”

I was heartbroken when CoNZealand was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic and I had to cancel my plans (exciting plans) for a long trip down to Wellington with Parris and my minions… but there is definitely a silver lining in that cloud. The last thing I need right now is a long interruption that might cost me all the momentum I have built up. I can always visit Wellington next year, when I hope that both Covid-19 and THE WINDS OF WINTER will be done.

CoNZealand, aka the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, aka Worldcon, is a major sci-fi convention that was going to kick off this July before it was forced to go virtual thanks to the coronavirus. I mention it because back in May of last year, Martin wrote that if he didn’t turn up in New Zealand with “THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand,” fans had “my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done.”

Was he joking? Very obviously yes, but it was good to have a Winds deadline — even a facetious one — to hold onto. Now he’s writing about possibly visiting New Zealand next year, when “I hope that both Covid-19 and THE WINDS OF WINTER will be done,” suggesting that even if the coronavirus hadn’t shut down the world, he probably wouldn’t have had Winds “in hand” by this July.

And honestly, moving the goalposts like that is a pretty standard move for Martin over the past several years; by his own admission, he’s not great with deadlines. But I don’t think anyone was taking the “lake of sulfuric acid” deadline seriously anyway, so I’ll just take what good news there is in this post and sit with it.

And lest we forget, Martin is also a TV and movie producer with several irons in the fire, including an upcoming Game of Thrones prequel show for HBO. “Hollywood has slowed to a crawl thanks to the pandemic, but THE HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is still flying along wonderfully, thanks to Ryan Condal and his writers, and the tireless Ti Mikkel,” Martin wrote.

With my producer hat on, I am still involved in trying to bring Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant WHO FEARS DEATH to the small screen, and relaunch the WILD CARDS tv project. We have feature films in development adapted from my stories “Sandkings” and “The Ice Dragon” and “The Lost Lands,” television shows in development based on works by Roger Zelazny and Tony Hillerman…But up here on the mountain, all of that that seems very distant, and much of it has stuttered to a halt in any case, until Covid goes away.

Martin ends with reason to hope. “Mostly, it’s just me in Westeros, with occasional side trips to other places in the pages of a great book. “Now you will have to excuse me. Arya is calling. I think she means to kill someone.”

Go get ’em, Arya. Go get ’em, everyone.

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