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George R.R. Martin starts 2016 by disappointing his fans.

Kevin Winter / Getty

Many assumed that The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth volume of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, would be published in March, just ahead of the April release of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, the hit TV adaptation. The timing was crucial because the TV series has caught up with the published books, and avid readers were worried that the show would become one big spoiler.

Writing on his Live Journal page, Martin said the pressure of deadlines has made it harder for him to write, so he blew his original deadline of Halloween 2015 and then the extension given to the New Year. The Winds of Winter won’t be coming out before the TV show premieres and Martin won’t say when it might—he doesn’t want to deal with the stress of deadlines.

Martin should be allowed to write the books at the pace he’s comfortable with. Fannish anxiety about spoilers seems silly since the TV series is distinct from the books, despite overlaps. There are many plot twists and characters in the novels that don’t show up in the show at all. Best to treat the two as similar but distinct works of art. While the work has clearly spiraled out of control, the only way it can be finished is if Martin writes it a page at a time.