Good books come to those who wait, don’t complain

By Luke Wilusz

Fantasy author George R.R. Martin has seen extraordinary success throughout the years. Most of his novels became New York Times best sellers. His series “A Song of Ice and Fire” was adapted into the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” which premiered on April 17. Legions of fans follow his every word on his blog and wait eagerly for the next novel in the series, “A Dance with Dragons,” for which Martin recently announced an official publication date of July 12.

However, some fans are less than gracious or patient about the fact that Martin’s last entry in the series was released in 2005. A recent profile of the author in The New Yorker mentions some extreme actions by people who are supposed to be his fans. Such behavior is becoming more common as fans across all mediums get wrapped up in a sense of entitlement and instant gratification.

Some of them harass him about the long wait in comments on his blog or online forums related to the series, complaining whenever he posts about football, politics or anything unrelated to the next book. Others have set up entire blogs or forums dedicated to complaining about how lazy they think Martin is.

Some don’t believe the book is ever actually going to come out. They say they won’t believe the July 12 publication date until they actually see a physical copy of the novel in their hands. They cry foul every time a new fiction anthology or comic book comes out with his name on it while they wait for his next novel.

Some fans act as if Martin is under an obligation to give them exactly what they want, when they want it, as if he were doing them some kind of horrible injustice by taking his time to finish the book. But Martin is a free, independent human being. As a writer, what he works on is entirely up to him. Creativity can’t be forced, and there’s no reason he should be forced to work on “Dance” if other projects catch his attention. The same people who complain the book is taking too long would complain even more if Martin rushed through it and it weren’t any good.

Fellow fantasy author Neil Gaiman summarized the situation most eloquently in a 2009 blog post replying to a reader, who wrote in asking for his opinion on the matter: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” He elaborated that Martin doesn’t work for his fans, and he should be free to pursue whatever projects he wants. He’s allowed to take a break if he’s too burned out to write on a given day. Expecting him to ignore everything else in his life and slave exclusively in regard to the series to please disgruntled fans is completely unrealistic and a bit juvenile.

These people have an absurd sense of entitlement that comes from growing up in the Internet age. Most of my generation is used to instant gratification with all of our entertainment. News and information are at our fingertips. Thanks to services like Hulu and Netflix, we can watch virtually any film or TV show we can imagine instantly from anywhere. With all the modern conveniences available, some people get irrationally angry and begin to complain loudly when they actually have to wait for something they want, whether it’s a delayed novel, comic book, video game, film or album.

People need to remember their favorite artists are independent, intelligent human beings and not machines. Buying the first entry in a series does not give someone the right to make demands and spew vitriol at artists who don’t work fast enough for his or her tastes.

Instead of whining about how long the next book is taking, Martin’s detractors could spend that time rereading the books they claim to love so much. They could learn a new hobby or find something else to entertain them while they wait. But most importantly, they could grow up, learn to wait patiently like civilized adults and just enjoy the book whenever it finally does come out. In the meantime, read something else.