George R.R. Martin's Cabin Fever Can't Stop Winds of Winter

George R.R. Martin holding an Emmy hostage until someone returns his hat.
George R.R. Martin holding an Emmy hostage until someone returns his hat.
Photo: Jason Merrit (Getty)

Once health organizations around the world began encouraging governments to implement stay-at-home measures in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, George R.R. Martin did the sensible thing by heeding the warnings and choosing to isolate within a cabin where, among other things, he might be able to finally get around to knocking Winds of Winter out.


In the past, Martin’s expressed the difficulties he’s had with putting pen to paper when it comes to working his way through Winds of Winter, the sixth entry into his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Winds of Winter’s meant to be one of Martin’s most ambitious books, with a complex constellation of deep, nuanced narratives that all intersect and run parallel to one another in a variety of ways. Building out that kind of book would be a challenge to anyone in normal circumstances where the everyday aspects of life that don’t involve one’s work pull you in countless distracting directions.

But we’re all currently living through a pandemic that Martin’s riding out in a cabin, the sort of environment where one might assume would lead to a dramatic uptick in the writer’s output. As it turns out, not quite. And that’s perfectly fine, to be honest.

Much as everyone insisted going on about how the pandemic quarantine was a chance for everyone to focus on their productivity, the reality is that there’s only so much that a person can do. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin revealed the shocking truth that he, much like any person who’s been spending as much time as they can sequestered from other people out of a desire to maintain their own health and lessen their chances of risking the health of others, has developed cabin fever. While he’s been writing at a clip, being holed up in a cabin hasn’t magically put him on track to have Winds of Winter finished any time soon.

“I am spending long hours every day on The Winds of Winter, and making steady progress,” Martin said. “I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week. But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week. It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go...I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.”

If anything, it’s good that Martin’s not putting undue pressure on himself to finish the novel, simply because now might seem like the ideal time to do so. There are undoubtedly multiple more important reasons why Winds of Winter has taken so long, and quite frankly, that’s Martin’s business no matter how much his fans may be clamoring for a return to Westeros.


The Winds of Winter is scheduled to drop....whenever Martin gets around to finishing the book, turning it in for editing, you know, the whole deal. It’s coming eventually.


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The Ron Swanson of Westeros

I feel for George, in two senses. One, since the last book has come out, the series has transmogrified from a well-respected work within the fantasy genre, with three books that have passed into classic territory in the field followed by two books that are . . . contested by the fandom (full disclosure: I think AFFC and ADwD were some of Martin’s best works), into a monumental commercial juggernaut. The escalation of pressure must be immense.

Two, the problem clearly isn’t getting pages written. By this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if George hasn’t written enough on TWoW to publish the book five times over. The problem is arranging the intersecting timelines correctly, gathering everybody together in the right order and in ways that conform with their characters, in a single book.

We’ve seen how average writers under the gun of a yearly deadline did that, and it was *checks notes* bad. There was a lot of “it just HAPPENS, okay!” coming off the TV show by the end. As such, I don’t mind George taking the extra time, and making sure he sticks the landing. Yes, I was hoping that his earlier statements that he’d have it ready for editing by July or thereabouts would prove accurate, but I can wait. The story Martin’s crafted thus far is worth it.