Worlds & Time

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Expectations vs. Reality

As more of my favorite writers desperately try to lower expectations about writers as a whole based on the case of GRRM, I suddenly realized that I really wanted to respond to something that Gaiman said as part of his "[GRRM] is not your bitch" post:

"Yes, it's unrealistic of you to think George is 'letting you down[.]'"

Which brings me to this graph I created in about ten seconds:

As we can plainly see, the reality of the situation is that George R.R. Martin isn't meeting expectations. So yes, people are unrealistic when they're expecting GRRM to live up to the expectations that he and his publishers created.

A couple of things should be obvious by now to anyone looking forward to the next book in Martin's series:
  1. Martin's word can't be trusted. Even if he announced the book was on it's way to publication he's lied before and we shouldn't get out hopes up.
  2. The editors who are paying GRRM apparently don't care or have given up on trying to push to finish the book.
  3. If the measure of success of a writer is the ability to write, then George R.R. Martin is a failure.
From his online persona I would expect Scalzi to point to this as an example of one of GRRM's pissy fans.

Well, I'm not a fan any more. I don't remember the characters anymore, or really even their names. I have no idea what they're doing or where they started. I haven't read a GRRM book in years and I know that I won't be buying the latest book when it comes out because it would require me to reread the series and to be honest I just don't have the time. Who cares about the book? If GRRM would just admit that he's not going to finish it maybe everyone else could all move the f*** on?

So, the next question is, why do I still care about this? Specifically, why to I care that Gaiman, Scalzi, West and Stross are all faithfully defending George Martin as though he has men with knives at the throats of their children?

Because they're defending someone without honor.

Perhaps I'm slowly going nuts while reading Starship & Haiku by Somtow Sucharitkul or something but nobody likes being jerked around. Here in the west, honor seems to equal trust that now that's out the window lots and lots of people feel jerked around by George R.R. Martin and now they're treating him like crap.

That's what happens. Welcome to real life. I'm surprised you haven't noticed how it works before.

I realize that by defending him they're in essence defending themselves: they see something of themselves in Mr. Martin and they're afraid of what might ever happen if they're ever in his unenviable position. Still, it's sad to see them try because for the most part none of them really empathizes with the end user. "We know he sucks but look, this isn't the way to treat a person" would probably go a lot farther to defuse the situation than "Anyone who got personally invested in the characters is and idiot and anyone who thought that there is an implied agreement for an author to finish a series is doubly so."

So to all of the GRRM fans out there waiting for A Dance of Dragons: give up and leave the man alone. It's not going to happen and we need to move on and return to the authors that can still produce new works.

But at the same time to all of the writers out there considering defending GRRM without acknowledging that people feel screwed over for at least semi-legitimate reasons: don't. You can't empathize and therefore it's unlikely that you'll be able to make things better.

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