Sunday 22 March 2020

Bitching, George RR Martin, and the underbelly of fandoms.

Eleven years ago Neil Gaiman put it succinctly: George RR Martin is not your bitch.

This is an old horse, long ago beaten to death in many of the internet's alleyways.

But today I had occasion to see how deep and persistent the crazy is. I had a short story in GRRM's Wild Cards universe published on It's a story and a character I'm quite proud of, and The Visitor's origin story in Knaves Over Queens is, I think, one of my best. It did at least prompt GRRM to call me an excellent writer 😀.

Anyway, GRRM tweeted about it today.

Note: The Wild Cards series has been an enduring passion for GRRM since he started it in 1986, a full ten years before A Game of Thrones was published.

Also note: GRRM hasn't written any of the stories in the recent instalments of the series that I've been involved in or seen. He's the head editor but the low to medium level of editing is done by other editors. So his role is important in guiding the thing and keeping the tone and history consistent, but not significant in terms of the time it would occupy out of a year's work.

You have to go to the 30th reply on the tweet to find one that's not scolding him about Winds of Winter. Here are some of the comments:

So I looked at the replies to some of his other tweets - something I hope GRRM never does.

In January he tweeted that he was very saddened by the death of Mike Resnik and linked to a heartfelt post about his old friend and mentor. These were the first three replies:

There's some ugly shit right there.

Writing is a difficult business and the retirement age in many countries is around 65 (in Brazil it was 55 for women (who live longer anyway) and 60 for men until recently 😲). GRRM is 71. Many of us would be expecting to have been kicking back and doing whatever retired people do for the last 6 years by age 71.

If you're upset that the final instalments of A Game of Ice and Fire have taken so long, then by all means make your own private plans not to buy them if/when they come out. Declare your disinterest and move on.

I doubt though that you're as disappointed as the author. GRRM has written some of the world's most popular and beloved books. That's a rare and stellar talent. Don't pretend to know how difficult that was or how hard it is to sustain. I'm a writer and I know many writers. Authors at all levels of success struggle with the act of creation. It is not the turning of a handle on a sausage machine. It is not a mechanical process that can be forced. It varies hugely for person to person - it is deeply personal - it is deeply connected to mental health. Yesterday I spent all the writing time available to me playing a single game of Bookworm. World news had pushed my mind to a place where I couldn't focus on writing. I know authors who have missed generous deadlines and one who surrendered to the fact that his series would not be finished. These are not people rolling in writing money, too busy living the high life to knuckle down and type. These are people for whom writing is everything - who maintain day jobs to pay the bills - who dream of success, or more importantly of their stories finding readers (the distinction being that it's not money driving them but the desire to tell their tales).

So yes, it's disappointing when a great series that you're loving slows or stops. But trolling an old man on the internet ... that's pathetic. Nobody wants those books written more than GRRM does. But if you think heckling him at every opportunity is going to do anything other than make you part of something ugly ... then ... you know nothing, John Doe.


  1. It's the sense of entitlement that's rife now! If I had GRRMs success I would struggle to stay motivated, and not get distracted by exciting projects proposed to him. I let daytime TV distract me from my who am I to judge!

  2. Dreams are like water for a lost soul in the desert of the Sahar. We needss it. We cravess it. We wantss it! Give it to us, preciouss!

    "GRRM has written some of the world's most popular and beloved books." => I agree and this is why GRRM should feel good about himself. Most authors struggle to get people to read their books. Some would say it is a worse fate to remain unknown and never feel the demand.

  3. "If I had GRRMs success" -- I don't think any of us would have the slightest idea, none whatsoever, what that life would be like. I'd imagine the experience is a bit like having children. I thought when I was a dumb kid that I had it all figured out, watching other people raise their kids, knowing exactly how I'm going to do things, these are the rules, and they're going to turn out the way I imagined. "When I'm a dad, I'm never going to do this, and always do that!" Then you have the kids. And everything you ever thought you knew flies out the window. Laughably so.

    And that's just kids. (Heh. "Just.") GRRM's level of success is a status I won't even pretend to fathom. I'm beginning to dent my forehead from all the facepalms.

  4. Well let me be honest i would love to buy and read his book today. but while he is writting I can get through all the other books still waiting for me. There are so many good books out there so read those and when the book does come out be happy but no need to be this unkind while waiting.

  5. OMG, today I saw same type of comments on Pat Rothfuss' tweet. The tweet said that I hope you don't die before finishing the book is not a compliment. And it had me wondering what kind of hate he must be getting from his readers. I am rather thankful to the authors who give us excellent worlds to escape to.

    The world already has enough sadness in it, I hope we soon stop filling the void by giving hate to other people.

  6. Being ugly to someone is never the right thing. However, no one forces someone to be an author. A person makes a decision to be an author. That same person again makes the decision to not publish a complete book, but to break the story into a (more lucrative) series of books that tell the story. The author then takes the money of hundreds (to millions) of paying clients to give them part of the story with the promise that the rest of the story will be forthcoming. At this point, the author has large numbers of paying clients who have invested their money and time in the story and had an implied agreement at the time of purchase that the rest of the story will be delivered in a timely manner. When said delivery doesn't happen, these paying clients invested in the authors work are naturally unhappy and rightly believe they are owed the rest of the product in which they invested.

    Name any other business or industry where you can accept payments from clients and then stop short of a completed job and not suffer consequences. (Scorn, loss of reputation, legal action, etc.) I'm not trying to defend people being impolite to others on the internet, but lets not paint these authors as hapless victims of an unruly mob. They made specific decisions to put themselves in those positions and took money to do a job (writing a story) they didn't complete. If they didn't want these types of headaches, they should have written stand alone novels, published their "art" for free on one of hundreds of sites, or found a different line of work.

  7. Sorry, I must have missed the part in which buying ONE book meant I'd purchased all future books or entered some sort of formal contract about it.

    You buy the one book. That book is all you pay for, all you are owed for the money you've spent.

  8. "I'm not trying to defend people being impolite to others on the internet"

    Well yes, you are.
    And unlike yourself, "these authors" don't hide under the name "Anonymous".

  9. Idk if I should laugh or cry on the previous comment... The main thought is that if you read the first book in any series you have some holy right to demand to read every other coming book in the same series. And all this is blamed on the writers because they "dare" to get paid for the books they write. I almost started to laugh about the naiveté of Anonymous that the demands would stop if those books will be for free.
    Sadly, from my own experience, some people think that they are entitled to have something only because they want it, and usually, this want is now. I'm a member in an anime fansubbing group, editing the translated scripts there. We give everything for free, so according to Anonymous, people can't demand anything from us. In reality, many comments are the questions "When the next episode will be out?" or "I want this and this series subbed by you". The most clear case of the consumers' egotism was when I was away due to my mother's death, and someone commented "What takes you so long? Had someone died?" I bet the person who wrote this was extremely irritated that it took longer than necessary according to that person, and that with this statement he/she showed how unhappy he/she is with our work speed. I always wondered what this kind of people want to prove with their remarks. Do they think/hope that we hasten up the process of releasing in order not to disappoint them? Our usual answer to those impatient/aggressive ones is that if you want it right now, do it yourself: hire a translator, time a script, fix the signs, edit, quality check, encode and so on. And we also mention that we do it for free, on our own free time. However, it never helps, as there are always some bunch of egotistic spoiled idiots who think they are entitled to something just because they like it and they want it.
    And just because some people are like that I can never show up under my real name in any social media. Honestly, I admire GRRM that he still keeps his accounts and under his real name.