George R.R. Martin keeps doing things that are not writing the next “Game of Thrones” book

George of the House Procrastination.
George of the House Procrastination.
Image: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
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Update (May 17, 2019): This story was first published in March 2017. Since that time, George R.R. Martin has done several more things that are not finishing his book series. As the HBO series Game of Thrones ends this weekend, we have updated this story with the most recent of Martin’s non-book-writing activities.

Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin is starting a non-profit foundation to bring more TV and film production to his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. An undoubtedly noble and worthwhile endeavor—just not what his millions of anxious fans prefer that he do.

Rather, they would very much like the author to finish the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter.

The fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011. Since then, Martin has provided occasional updates to his fans about his progress, or lack thereof, writing The Winds of Winter. First, he said he’d finish it before Halloween of 2015. No dice. Then he thought he could finish it by the end of that same year, but still no book. In early 2016, he claimed he had written “hundreds of pages,” but had once again missed his deadline. Three years later, the book still does not exist, and it’s unclear if it ever will.

Game of Thrones, the wildly popular HBO series based on Martin’s novels, has zoomed past its source material. Launched in 2011, the TV show has now aired nearly eight seasons (71 episodes) in the time since Martin’s last novel was published. The HBO show will thus conclude before Martin finishes the next book.

Martin, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, has said he has a problem with deadlines. He’s also called himself a “slow writer.” Both of which may be true. But the author has nevertheless kept himself quite busy in the years since A Dance with Dragons was released. In that time, he has:

George R.R. Martin can do whatever he wants with his time. To paraphrase author Neil Gaiman, he is not the servant of his fans. But as A Song of Ice and Fire junkies have argued, Martin’s relationship to them is a two-way street. The deal is, he writes the books, they read them and then make him very wealthy. The longer Martin waits to publish his next entry, the fewer people there will be to care about it.