Writers write; they put words on a page for others to read, to interpret, to enjoy, to make their own.
Writing can be a hobby or it can be a career, something you do in your free time or to pay the bills.
Nowadays, just writing isn’t the only thing a published author is expected to do. They must now also maintain a presence on social media, attend conventions, do readings, have book tours, make guest appearances, blog and among other things, market their new books and pieces they get published in the process.
Writers still write—it’s an inherent part of the job—but they are also responsible for a lot of other things that keep them connected with their readers.
And with authors who no longer just focus on the words they are putting on their pages, books—and particularly sequels—seem to be coming out slower than ever.
There might have been a time when a sequel to a popular novel would come out a year after the first book, and while this still happens occasionally, it’s not uncommon to see sequels being published two, three or even ten years after the last book in the series.
And with longer wait times between novels, the desire to find out the outcome of one’s favorite story can be overwhelming for some. More and more readers have taken to begging, pleading and even threatening their favorite authors to write their next books more quickly.
George R.R. Martin, the author of the insanely popular A Song of Ice and Fire series, has experienced many of these reader reactions firsthand.
Martin first began the legacy of his series back in 1996, with the publication of A Game of Thrones. Now, in the year 2015, readers are rabidly awaiting the sixth installment of the popular fantasy series (which is rumored to be released sometime in 2016).
The fifth novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published back in 2011, a little over four years ago.
Nineteen years is a very long time to wait for a story, and with one more book planned for release in the series, it looks like readers will have to wait a bit longer to learn the fates of all of their favorite characters.
All this waiting raises the following question: Should Martin be publishing his novels faster to please his audience, many of whom have stuck with him over the last two decades?
Readers are beginning to worry that Martin, with less-than-perfect health, might not live to see the end of his series, much like popular fantasy author Robert Jordan.
George R.R. Martin, in response to these concerns, gives his readers a big middle finger. Which may seem harsh, but I’m going to side with him on this one. While it is a good idea to keep your readers happy—I mean, they are the ones buying your books and allowing you to make money as a writer—writing shouldn’t consume a person’s life.
Even if there is a chance Martin might not live to write the end of ASOIAF, he’s a goddamn human being. His life is much more important than an ending to a book series.
And with all of the other obligations writers have these days to create an author platform and market themselves to their readers, it’s a wonder Martin even has the time to dedicate to his incredibly detailed and complex fantasy world.
Writers write, but they are also humans. There is only so much quality content one person can produce in the midst of conventions, interviews, travel and life.
If we are going to insist on our authors also managing the sales of their books and staying connected with their readers, we are going to have to accept that those responsibilities leave them less time to write. Martin has even made a pledge to attend fewer conventions until the publication of his next book, but there are only so many events that a popular author can risk missing.
So maybe, instead of criticizing writers for not producing content quickly enough, we should be criticizing the system that leaves them less time to do their job, which is to write.
And if our favorite books aren’t coming out as quickly as we might like, we should remember that writers are humans, and maybe they’re just trying to enjoy their lives.