Who do you write for? Martin's lesson

Halt. Stop. Hold on a minute, that's what George RR Martin seems to be saying. There's been a small tempest of dismay over the recent announcement, by Martin's publishers, that the latest installment of his Ice and Fire saga won't appear in 2015.

Items in Forbes from Erik Kain and Paul Tassi have framed the situation and some shocking alternative scenarios. You can read them for yourself by going here.

Fans and TV viewers are upset because, with the publisher's announcement, it looks like the popular HBO "Game of Thrones" series will certainly soon outstrip Martin's unfinished multi-book story. What do you do with a popular, massively-profitable series that depends on a work in progress?

I've been thinking a lot about the time it takes to produce just a single book (see my previous post), and that makes me very sympathetic to Martin -- even though I worry like other fans that George isn't getting any younger and all those books are very big ones.

But the notion offered by some of the pundits, that HBO should just go forward with the story without waiting for Martin, is like going to hear a Journey concert without Steve Perry. Yeah, the songs sound pretty good, and the guy they found to replace him has a great voice, but it's still not the same guy.

Those complaining about the delays have an exaggerated sense of their relevance to Martin's work. Here's what I say to them: It's great that you love the stories and are eager to see more, but, I hate to break it to you, your voices don't matter.

I know that sounds very elitist, but I also know that many of you, my dear friends, understand what I'm getting at. Writing is a privileged form of creation, and when you turn your back on the world -- or someone like Martin turns a cold shoulder to the might of HBO and millions of fans -- it's to hear one's own voice, which was the point in the first place.

For my fellow working writers, I hope Martin's heroic example inspires.