George R.R. Martin: A public case of writer’s block?

Game of Thrones_posterGeorge R.R. Martin is a little behind on his writing, and all the world seems to know it.

His “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels form the basis of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” TV show. But the show will soon catch up to where Martin left off in his books because he is years behind on the next installment.

In a recent NPR story, reporter Caty Enders said:

Many fans are grumbling that Martin hasn’t been spending enough time of late in his mythical kingdom of Westeros and its surroundings. On the list of things Martin is doing instead of writing the next ‘Game of Thrones’ book? Reviewing the latest episodes of ‘Breaking Bad,’ editing a sci-fi series and writing a novella.

“This summer, even HBO’s execs piped up, saying that they’d really appreciate it if Martin were to ‘get busy writing’ — specifically, writing ‘The Winds of Winter,’ the next book in the ‘Game of Thrones’ series. It’s years overdue.

HBO has threatened to write the rest of the TV show without him if he doesn’t deliver.

Martin bought and renovated an early 20th century movie theater in Santa Fe, N.M., and during the recent reopening, movie-goers stopped to ask him why he wasn’t at home writing.

We writers can often use a helpful nudge to get back to writing, but at some point, the pressure must become paralyzing, especially when an unpopular story choice can earn you death threats from fans, as reportedly happened after the infamous “Red Wedding” episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Martin told Enders:

You know, there are writers, and I know some of them, who are very disciplined. Who write, like, four pages a day, every day. And it doesn’t matter if their dog got run over by a car that day, or they won the Irish sweepstakes. I’m not one of those writers. I write emotionally. I’m an emotional person. So, you know, my best days are the ones where I can keep the distractions at a minimum so I can go into that world, the world of Westeros.

I had a lot more sympathy for Martin by the end of the interview. It’s hard enough to maintain the dream world of a novel when no one is looking, but when total strangers stop you on the street to scold you for not writing — or not writing the way they want you to — it’s like a nightmare out of Stephen King.

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