Mr Sanderson, I think it speaks volumes for your character and dedication to the final product that you began this update with "I'm back for another update on how your book is going."
Funny, my response to that was "Brandon Sanderson is not my bitch." I'm glad he knows how invested we are in his novels but I've seen too many entitled idiots (most often Martin and Rothfuss fans) who really think the authors owe them something, and get irate if they don't get what they want in a timely manner.
I don't agree with your downvotes, Gunner. This is a legitimate position to take. (And for those not aware, that is a quote from Gaiman.) And I don't agree with the harassment some authors get. Everyone has different writing methods and speeds. And despite being known as "quick," I haven't been much better than Rothfuss at getting to book three of my big series.
That said, I do believe that a series is an implicit contract with the reader. When I put "book one" on a cover, particularly as prominently as with the Way of Kings, I do feel it is a promise. That's different from something like Warbreaker, where I say I'm planning a sequel, but didn't publicize the book as a series.
I use "your" in this context because I believe that storytelling is a participatory art--that it doesn't live without an audience to imagine it. Beyond that, I believe in the patronage theory of art. I am able to do what I do, as an artist, because of the support of the greater community.
That said, I am sympathetic to the Gaiman approach you quote, and think it would be good for fans to read that essay and consider it.
Thanks Brandon. I fully agree with and appreciate the feeling of duty to the audience when you say that this is book one. But you don't promise how long it will take to get to book two, and you don't take surveys from readers to find out what should happen. In my mind, it's not our book, it's yours, and we are here ready to enjoy it when it's finished.
Maybe my perspective is different because I'm a writer (of songs, not books) and it has taken me years of far less success than yours to come to terms with the fact that my art is mine to make or not make as I see fit. It's great to have fans who are so deeply invested in what we do but they are not the ones who have to do the creating and be satisfied with the results (which includes not only the work but also that permanent change in one's life and career after each new release).
I follow your career very closely, and I know quite a bit about your history and how you got here. These are very much your stories. You create them because they are part of you and to not create them would not do justice to who you are. You would write them if nobody read them, which is more than I can say for my own writing. So as much as I appreciate the connection you cultivate with your readers when you call them our books, I personally just don't see it that way.
Fortunately you are the most prolific author of our generation so we never really have to wait long, and yes, you are much better than Rothfuss when it comes to book three. But he's not my bitch either. So anyway, thanks for defending me a bit, I don't care about the down votes but I didn't mean to say anything too controversial to begin with!
Hope i can finally take you out for pizza next time you're in Chicago. Had a chance to do it for Michael J. Sullivan so he can tell you whether I'm mental or not. :)
I'll take you up on that pizza. I see you enough on-line that I'm pretty sure you're not mental. (No more so than the rest of us.)
I get what you're saying, and I agree with it. No, I'm not going to take polls on what to do with the books--this was actually a real danger when working on the Wheel of Time books. As I came out of fandom, I found it a real temptation (that I had to squish quickly) to put in tons of in-jokes and references.
There was a time, before I published, where I tried to write more of what I thought the market wanted, instead of what I felt I really wanted to write. It was a disaster, and the Stormlight Archive was my method of escaping that--my reaction to it, by writing only for me, in the way I most wanted to write.
So yes, you are correct. At the same time, I do consider the fandom at large my "boss" so to speak. The contract we have is that I will create art for them--not that I will let them control it, but that I WILL write it. I also have the philosophical belief that when a piece of art is released into the wild, so to speak, the author has to relinquish some ownership of it, for its own good. (And for the good of the community.)