a career I do not want

Tor.com had a recent piece about George R.R. Martin’s announcement that the sixth book in his series will not be published before the next season of Game of Thrones airs. That means the show’s storyline will officially outpace the novels’; we find out what happens next from HBO, not Martin.

Reading that piece, it occurred to me that I do not want Martin’s career.

His piles of money? Sure. But not, I think, at the cost of everything that has come with it. I could be perfectly happy with a much smaller quantity of money, and the thought of living under the kind of stress he faces is massively unappealing. I think it’s clear, from everything he’s said and the way the series has progressed, that he’s the victim of his own success: so many people are invested in A Song of Ice and Fire, and the resulting pressure is grinding the life out of it for him.

For anybody who makes their living creatively, that’s kind of a horrifying thought. And I honestly feel bad for him with this HBO situation. I mean, he’s made plenty of statements about how HBO is telling their own version of the story, and it doesn’t affect his own, etc etc, and yes, fans will still care about the “real” end of the tale — but it has to feel like somebody else got there before him. Maybe that will make it easier for him to move forward; who knows? It could take some of the pressure off him. But he’s no longer leading the pack, and I have to imagine that stings. I know I wouldn’t want to be in that position myself.

I thought about something else, too. When the TV series started airing, book fans were incredibly disciplined about not spoiling things for people who came to the story via the show. This was, in part, a selfish act: I had a friend who hadn’t read the books, and I couldn’t wait to be there when she reacted to certain major events. Spoiling would have ruined the fun. But it was also courteous — and although I’m not optimistic, I’d like to hope that people watching the show will extend the same courtesy to anyone who is sticking with the books alone. Certainly I will; any posts I make about events on the show will be hidden behind a cut-tag. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I didn’t like A Dance with Dragons much at all and I feel the series has been rolling downhill with increasing speed . . . but I still hope that Martin pulls up out of that dive (to mix my metaphors), and anybody who prefers to go the text route should have that chance.

And I wish Martin the best in finishing off The Winds of Winter, and however many more there may be.

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