Fans have been waiting for The Winds of Winter for literal years. Ever since A Dance With Dragons was released in 2011, fans of George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series have been eagerly awaiting the sixth installment. While George R.R. Martin seemed positive he would have the book published in 2015, 2015 has come and gone and 2016 is winding down to a close–and still no book. Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones was the first season that didn’t follow the books, because in this case, there was no book to follow. At this point, it seems unlikely the book will be published anytime soon, and it wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume that the HBO series will conclude well before The Winds of Winter appears in print.
Which leads us to wonder: just what is George R.R. Martin doing, exactly? Sure, writing books takes a long time, and George R.R. Martin’s books are three times as big as a standard novel, and it is true that it’s taken him fifteen years to write five novels–but still… What could possibly be taking the man so long? It’s been ages. We’ve been waiting for this book longer than Brock Turner has been in prison. We’re dying. This is possibly more agonizing than waiting for the next Harry Potter book, because J.K. Rowling didn’t have a fetish for killing off characters and ruining our lives.
Rather than dwell on what this could mean for our favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters, let’s imagine instead what George R.R. Martin is doing instead of meeting his deadline.
15. Spending All Of His Money
It’s no secret that George R.R. Martin has done very, very, very well for himself. Between the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and the Game of Thrones HBO series, George R.R. Martin is a huge success and has the finances to show for it. Martin’s bank account is probably a higher number than ASoIaF’s death count–and that’s saying something. He has officially become every writer’s #lifegoals. So we can’t blame the guy, really, for wanting to blow some of that well-earned cash on a swimming pool or a yacht or a trip around the world–or whatever it is he’s spending it on. I mean, who feels like writing when you’ve got a fancy pool with all the works? Who wants to think about Jaime Lannister’s character development when you can party all day, every day wherever you want with whomever you want? Not George R.R. Martin, apparently.
14. Laughing At His Readers
Not for nothing has George been given the nickname “Evil Santa.” Martin has killed more characters than the Bubonic Plague (probably)–and if he isn’t killing them, he’s torturing them and making them miserable. It’s a wonder anyone bothers to read his books because all they do is turn perfectly happy people into emotional wrecks. No one is safe from Evil Santa and his Evil Pen.
Remember when the Red Wedding happened and everyone took Red Wedding reaction videos? And then remember when Conan O’Brien had George R.R. Martin watch those videos? Perhaps GRRM realized just then how much power he really had. Perhaps that was the moment that it dawned on him; “Oh,” he thought, “I have the ability to destroy everyone’s lives.” We wouldn’t put it past Evil Santa to sit at his computer just viciously laughing at his emotionally devastated fans.
“Lady Stoneheart made me cry!” a teenage girl on tumblr laments.
13. Working On Another Book Series
Listen, it wouldn’t strain credulity for George to say, “Wait, but what about this other idea?” What if he had another idea for a really, really awesome book series and decided to write while he had the inspiration? Again, it’s not out of the realm of possibility; while working on the A Song of Ice and Fire series and its related materials, Martin has also written several short stories, a novel, and reworked an older novel. Additionally, he has been heavily involved with the Wild Cards series and several cross-genre anthologies. And honestly, who can blame him? Game of Thrones, the first installment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, was published in 1996. That’s over 20 years that George R.R. Martin has spent working on this series. To give you some perspective, that’s twice as long as it took for J.K. Rowling to publish the entire Harry Potter series.
12. Misleading The Showrunners
Even though GRRM is a co-executive producer and sometime writer of HBO’s Game of Thrones, he has been vocal about his distaste for the television series. His catchphrase has become “Well, in the books,” because he says it all the time. He has made it abundantly clear that even though he is involved with the show and even though he profits enormously from it, he disapproves of many of the show’s decisions.
So what if the reason The Winds of Winter has been delayed is because George is working on an evil master plan to mislead the showrunners? Loath to release book spoilers, perhaps Martin has been intentionally misleading the showrunners so that the show will look nothing like the books. Maybe everything we’ve seen in season 6 is a carefully crafted lie. R+L=J? Not anymore. Daenerys sailing to Westeros? JK, she never left Essos. In the game of shows, you win or you die. Evil Santa is going to win.
11. Planning A Real Life Red Wedding
There’s always the possibility that George R.R. Martin not only dislikes the showrunners; perhaps he flat-out hates them and wants them to die. When you consider everything this man has written, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to carefully plan out an actual murder. Fed up with HBO taking his precious books and then running wild with them, GRRM has endured all that he can endure, and he’s going to put a stop to it. The Winds of Winter can wait–George has a massacre to plan. Perhaps he will invite the showrunners to a dinner party, and just when everyone is starting to relax and enjoy the evening, his servants will close the doors, the band will play “The Rains of Castamere,” and a team of assassins will kill everyone in the room.
“No!” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the lone survivors, will cry amidst a sea of bodies.
“My regards,” Evil Santa will say as he makes the killing blow.
10. Waiting To See Fan Theories
While most writers tend to have at least a rough idea of how their book series will pan out, there are some who go into it having no idea. What if Martin was one of those writers? What if, instead of knowing how the series will end, George R.R. Martin is scouring the internet for fan theories and basing his series off of those? People like to make fun of internet conspiracy theories, but in a series with dragons and ice zombies, nothing is really out of the realm of possibility. Maybe, when he’s not cackling at his heartbroken fans, GRRM is considering their fan theories and writing his series around them. Maybe Jeyne Poole pretending to be Arya Stark was never supposed to happen, but fans speculated it would and George decided to just go for it. Maybe the excerpts Martin has been releasing are all he’s written, and he wants to see what fans think is going to happen before he writes the rest of the book. Sure, it’s a stretch, but you know what else is a stretch? Fire gods whose priests can bring people back to life.
9. Binge Watching Netflix
Come on, who doesn’t love to Netflix and chill? Who among us hasn’t fallen into that trap? You kick back on the couch and decide to check out a new show–and next thing you know, hours have passed and you haven’t left your spot on the couch. Netflix asks if you want to keep watching. “Of course I want to keep watching, you judgmental piece of crap,” you mutter as you search for your remote. Your projects go unfinished, you get closer and closer to your deadlines, but just one more episode turns into hours of you glued to the screen.
He may be Evil Santa, but George R.R. Martin is still human. What if the reason The Winds of Winter is so behind schedule is because GRRM is binging on Netflix? Maybe he got really into The Get Down. Maybe he’s watching Galavant and getting inspiration for his own medieval fantasy. Maybe he’s watching Stranger Things and wondering why the writers haven’t killed everyone. We get it, George, Netflix is great–but it’s time to stop chilling and start writing, dude!
8. Crying Over Hodor
“Hold the Door” was possibly the most devastating episode of Game of Thrones to date. Poor, sweet Hodor met with a grisly end, and fans have been crying about it ever since. Martin may well be one of those fans. Hodor wasn’t just any character, after all; he was a sweet summer child who only deserved the best. The dreadful circumstances of his death may be enough to make even Evil Santa weep. Whether “hold the door” was something completely invented by HBO or this is something at which George R.R. Martin has hinted, GRRM may very well be emotionally compromised. Whether thinking about the show or a similar “hold the door” moment in the books, The Winds of Winter may be delayed because George literally can’t even deal.
“George,” his publisher may be saying even now, “you gotta pull yourself together. The fans are getting antsy.”
“I can’t,” Martin may be wailing. “Meera told him to hold the door.”
7. Waiting To See How The Election Turns Out
It’s no secret that much of what you read in A Song of Ice and Fire has been inspired by real-life events. While most of these events are borrowed from Medieval European history, we wouldn’t put it past Evil Santa to borrow from modern American events–specifically the 2016 presidential election. Think about it. This election feels like something out of a nightmarish dystopian novel, but it could work just as easily for a gritty epic fantasy series, especially one where characters like Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton exist. We wouldn’t put it past George R.R. Martin to find a way to incorporate this election into A Song of Ice and Fire–but first, he’d have to know how the election actually panned out. This means, of course, that he’d have to wait until November to start writing, so it could be months and even years before he finishes The Winds of Winter. As upsetting as that may sound, we can’t help feeling the payoff will be well worth it.
6. Taking A History Class
As we mentioned in point seven, most of the events in A Song of Ice and Fire are borrowed from Medieval European history. From the Wars of the Roses to the Borgias, from Hadrian’s Wall to William Shakespeare, A Song of Ice and Fire encompasses a lot of events. Some might say too many. Could it be possible that, in trying to capture all of his favorite moments from European history, GRRM forgot what happened?
We don’t blame him, if that’s the case; the Wars of the Roses, which first inspired A Song of Ice and Fire, are very confusing. Everyone is named Edward and Richard and Elizabeth and they’re always trying to usurp one another. It’s not impossible that George forgot who was who and what happened when and where and needs a refresher. Maybe the reason The Winds of Winter is taking so long is because Martin is taking a history class and trying to remind himself just how the Wars of the Roses ended.
5. Writing Fanfiction
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Despite the fact that A Song of Ice and Fire is basically Wars of the Roses fanfiction, George R.R. Martin has spoken out about his disdain for fan-made writing–but what if that was just his cover story? What if GRRM isn’t as anti-fanfiction as he claimed, and has really been writing fanfiction this whole time? No one would ever suspect it. After all, what reason would he have to write fanfiction about his own franchise?
For one thing, he might want a change of pace, or even a change of genre. Sometimes you just get tired of killing everyone and you want them to be happy. Who knows? George could be writing coffeeshop AUs even now. Maybe he’s writing Brienne and Podrick as buddy cops, or Gendry as a stripper. Maybe it isn’t a teenage girl on the other side of that screen–maybe it’s Evil Santa, chortling as he begins yet another domestic AU and leaves The Winds of Winter abandoned.
4. Producing A Hamilton-esque Musical
Hamilton is one of the biggest musicals to hit Broadway, well, ever. Thousands of people have been awed and inspired–what if George R.R. Martin was one of them? What if Martin loved Hamilton so much (or at least, loved how successful it is) that he wanted to make his own Hamilton-esque musical about A Song of Ice and Fire?
But who to be the titular star? There are plenty of candidates, but Jon Snow would probably be the best. Think about it: he’s a bastard, orphan, son of a Stark and a Targaryen, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot north at the Wall–and, well, you get the idea. If Martin wanted to throw his time (and money) at a musical like this, we’re more than okay with waiting a little longer for the next book.
3. Creating A National Treasure Map To The Location Of The Sixth Book
Of course, it’s always possible that Evil Santa has already finished The Winds of Winter and just isn’t telling anyone. That’s exactly the kind of thing an evil mastermind like George R.R. Martin would pull. He’s already released several chapters, and he’s definitely been working on the book for a while, so it’s not unreasonable that he’s finished the book. So where is it? Only time–and possibly a treasure map–will tell.
GRRM knows that he holds power over his fans. Maybe he doesn’t want to just hand us the next book on a silver platter. Maybe, just maybe, he wants to make us work for it–by putting a treasure map on the back of an important historical document. You want to find out what happens to the Starks? You gotta steal the Declaration of Independence first. And don’t lie–if that’s what it took, you know you’d do it.
2. Rewriting His Deleted Files
Musical theatre fans will never forget the time Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Not because Love Never Dies is good–it’s because we wish Love Never Dies had, well, died.
And for a moment, it did. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s cat, Otto, reportedly deleted the original score by sitting on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s keyboard. Despite Otto’s heroic actions, Andrew Lloyd Webber rewrote the score and put it on Broadway, to the dismay of everyone ever in the entire world.
While The Winds of Winter is very likely infinitely better than Love Never Dies, it’s always possible that something similar happened to George. Perhaps a pet sat on his keyboard and deleted the files, or he forgot to back up his hard drive and a virus ate everything. Rather than admit this to waiting fans, Martin may have decided to simply rewrite the novel to the best of his abilities. Maybe that’s why he originally thought he would have the novel released before season six, but season six has come and gone and Evil Santa is still nowhere near finished with The Winds of Winter.
1. There IS No Sixth Book
Okay, but really: what if there is no sixth book? What if George R.R. Martin has been lying to us this whole time and he really hasn’t been working on The Winds of Winter? Not only that, but what if he has no intention of ever writing a sixth book? It’s been taking GRRM a really, really, really long time with no sign of a release date. Additionally, he’s been working on the series since the ’90s and has tried (with little success) to work on other projects in the meantime, but fans are only interested in A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe he’s tired of the series and wants to work on something else. Or maybe he’s tired of working on writing, period, and wants to retire. The amount of money he’s made off of his book series and the HBO series is certainly enough to allow him a comfy retirement, and he’d never need to write anything ever again if he so chose.
So what if there really is no sixth book? What if he’s done for good? It’s a depressing thought–but then again, what isn’t depressing about this series? Maybe Ned Stark was wrong–winter isn’t coming. At least, the winds of winter aren’t.