Patience is a Virtue—A PSA

So, Scalzi and Stross have recently commented on the heaps of shit George R. R. Martin has gotten for not producing his books with machinelike timing and I’m pretty much in perfect agreement with them. Martin talks about what’s been happening here. I wasn’t going to comment, but today, my friend Pat Rothfuss talked about his process and why he’s not producing his next book with machinelike timing and makes some fabulous comments that really point up why cutting the people who are writing the books you love some slack is a good idea.

I don’t have a lot to add here except to note that when a writer isn’t producing stuff at the pace at which they are expected to, it’s pretty much a sure thing that they’re significantly less happy about it than their readers are. Asking a writer who is late why that’s the case, or how their writing is going, or complaining about it to them is really really counterproductive.

I say this from the perspective of someone who writes insanely fast by many people’s standards and who typically gets books in several months early. I’m a fast writer. I’m an early writer. And even so, questions about production can get under my skin when I fall behind my own ridiculously early scheduling. And that makes me unhappy, which slows me down even more in a really bad feedback loop. I can’t imagine how much harder it is for those who write slower than I do or who are running genuinely late with a book.

If your favorite writer is running behind on a book that you really want to read and you want to help: Send them fan mail. Tell them how much you enjoy their work and appreciate the books that are already out. Pump their spirits up, make them want to work. Don’t mention the project that’s not done yet, it will only further depress and delay.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 27 2009, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)