George R.R Martin, author of the uncomfortably popular Song of Ice and Fire series, has announced on his livejournal that he doesn’t like it when people are jerks to him about when his next book is coming out. When I checked LJ yesterday, I thought, “Oh, people. Don’t be jerks.”
Patrick Rothfuss, of Name of the Wind fame, posted a similar request yesterday, with a charming cartoon of the kinds of emails he gets and a more detailed explanation of why his next book isn’t done yet. Both Martin and Rothfuss note that they have lives like the rest of us, lives that involve raking leaves, watching football, and even doing other work for their writing, like going to cons and overseeing translations. Charles Stross chimes in on a few specific difficulties of writing series, and John Scalzi—and his able commenters—defends a writer’s right to leave the house. Nick Mamatas has the answer to the whole issue.
Rothfuss disabled comments on his post, anticipating a lot of supportive or funny responses, but also some snark and at least one real asshole comment in the bunch, which he doesn’t want to deal with. It’s too bad these writers—and many others—get guff from people who like their work but don’t understand or seem to care about their lives. The objectification of writers abounds; ooh, baby, show me your viewpoints.
But what really gets my hackles up are the references, here and there around the web, to Robert Jordan—not in the sense of writing a sprawling epic that may sprawl a little too much, but in the sense of the writer dying before the series is done. Get a grip. If you can’t understand that writing is an immensely complex process tied up in every other aspect of the writer’s life, at least realize that the death of a fellow human being is about more than your desire to know who wins the Last Battle. James Oliver Rigney Jr., aka Robert Jordan, did not “pull” anything on you, and those worried about George R.R. Martin dying before we get to the end of the Song of Ice and Fire can go take a cold shower or something. There are other wonderful books in the world, so read some of them in the mean time and express your sequel-angst in private.
These “pulling a Jordan” crazies are few, far between and almost universally belittled, but there’s enough middle-of-the-road entitlement out there to drive the sanest writer barking mad. Just remember: you rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.
Image from flickr user lifeontheedge, licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.