A friend of mine and fellow auteur (because I like using that pretentious word whenever I can) passed on a 2009 blog post from one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman. This fine friend, who happens to also be a member of my local writing group that I skipped out on last night (sorry guys), was responding to a post of my own on Facebook where I said:

I should be writing, but instead I’m watching Haywire.

And no, for the record, it wasn’t worth skipping out on The Dying of the Light: Beginning.

Anyway, a different (and long-time) friend posted that it was my responsibility to use my powers for good, not evil. Or something to that effect. I’m a superhero fan, sue me.

But I think Neil put it best when he said, “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch” in response to a question he’d received from a reader of A Song of Ice and Fire. The reader asked the following, among other things:

When writing a series of books, like Martin is with “A Song of Ice and Fire” what responsibility does he have to finish the story? Is it unrealistic to think that by not writing the next chapter Martin is letting me down, even though if and when the book gets written is completely up to him?

Some other good tidbits from the article:

It seems to me that the biggest problem with series books is that either readers complain that the books used to be good but that somewhere in the effort to get out a book every year the quality has fallen off, or they complain that the books, although maintaining quality, aren’t coming out on time.

For me, I would rather read a good book, from a contented author. I don’t really care what it takes to produce that.

Some writers run out of steam, and need to do whatever it is they happen to do until they’re ready to write again.

Read Neil’s post for the answer, and for more enlightenment about the difficulties of all series-writing authors. It’s a balance, and not one easily found or kept.

  1. Blaine says:

    I solved this problem by no longer reading series books until it is done. Now, if each book is stand alone, that is a different story.

    So, I will read the Iron Druid series, because each book can stand on its own without needing to read the others, although together they make a more complete tale. But, I will not do another Wheel of Time or Harry Potter type series until completed.

  2. That’s why I ‘play it safe’ and only offer one novel per story idea; that and the lack of stamina to complete a trilogy.

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