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SYFY WIRE George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin holed up in a cabin for months to write the next Game of Thrones novel

By Benjamin Bullard
George R. R. Martin

Remember Cersei’s lonely life of confinement when the High Sparrow basically locked her inside her own castle in Season 5 of Game of Thrones — and then put conditions on letting her out that felt more or less like the breaking of a religious quarantine? Well, George R.R. Martin’s self-imposed solitude to finish writing The Winds of Winter isn’t quite that dire. But in a new update on his writing progress, Martin sure sounds like a guy whose isolation makes for a strong incentive to (finally) reach the end.

In a blog post catching eager fans up to where The Winds of Winter stands, Martin said he’s quite literally shut himself inside his New Mexico ”fortress of solitude again, my isolated mountain cabin,” where his schedule’s wide open to do little but forge ahead on the sixth novel in his iconic A Song of Ice and Fire series. From the way it sounds, the grind of writing throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been a strange combination of highly productive (because, after all, what else is there to do?) — and highly (and we mean highly) uneventful.

“My life up here is very boring, it must be said,” he wrote, adding that throughout the lockdown — in his case dating all the way back to March — “I hardly can be said to have a life.” Rotating a single assistant (or “minion,” as he calls them) for two-week cabin stints so that he’s accompanied by at least one other living human “at all times,” his program for tackling The Winds of Winter sounds nothing if not purposeful:

“The assistants do two-week shifts, and have to stay in quarantine at home before starting a shift. Everyone morning I wake up and go straight to the computer, where my minion brings me coffee (I am utterly useless and incoherent without my morning coffee) and juice, and sometimes a light breakfast. Then I start to write. Sometimes I stay at it until dark.   Other days I break off in late afternoon to answer emails or return urgent phone calls. My assistant brings me food and drink from time to time.”

If that sounds like it could’ve been lifted straight from the diary of one of GoT’s Maester scribes, things get even more austere: “I sleep. The next day, I wake up, and do the same. The next day, the next day, the next day. Before Covid, I would usually get out once a week or so to eat at a restaurant or go to the movies. That all ended in March. Since then, weeks and months go by when I never leave the cabin, or see another human being except whoever is on duty that week. I lose track of what day it is, what week it is, what month it is.”

The tradeoff for all that alone time, adds Martin, is that it’s “good for the writing,” though he makes no mention in the post of just how near he might be to putting the finishing touches on The Winds of Winter. In any event, he seems to have embraced the era of social distancing as an ideal moment for focusing on his work. “I wonder if I will ever figure out the secret of having a life and writing a book at the very same time,” he mused.

While HBO rounds out the cast for prequel series House of the Dragon for a planned 2022 premiere, Martin sounds like he’ll be tucked away, fully in the writer’s zone to finish the main Game of Thrones story arc. The Winds of Winter is expected to be followed by A Dream of Spring, the final novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series — though Martin'’s so far remained vague on when to expect each novel to arrive, most recently teasing a possible 2021 release for The Winds of Winter's penultimate installment.