George R. R. Martin’s fans are already a bunch of excitable literary junkies; his most recent book, “A Dance with Dragons,” was published back in 2011, which means that we’ve all been experiencing Westeros withdrawal for a solid three years with no end in sight.
But now, the
sadist author has added a whole new dimension to our anxieties over the whereabouts of “The Winds of Winter”: on an appearance on “Conan” Tuesday night, Martin revealed that while he does own a modern computer with an internet connection, he writes his massive novels on a word processor dating back to the Reagan administration.
“I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the internet,” the author said. “I use Wordstar 4.0 as my word processing system.”
According to Martin, his ancient DOS computer serves his purposes just fine — and just as important, doesn’t feature a cranky-making talking paperclip or solicitous autocorrecting.
“It does everything I want a word-processing program to do, and it doesn’t do anything else,” he said. “I don’t want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lowercase letter and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital! If I’d wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital! I know how to use the shift key!”
And admittedly, and especially for an author who writes high fantasy novels full of made-up names and places and mythical creatures, that is a reasonable quibble. (Although is this really a problem? “Game of Thrones” has reached such complete cultural saturation at this point that the other night, my iPhone autocorrected “See you later” to “Valar morghulis.”)
But at the same time, the prospect of Martin writing his books on a machine from the 1980s — a machine that has no automatic backup system, a machine not connected to the cloud, a machine which probably requires an extinct species of floppy disk in order to save its work and which nobody will know how to repair if it breaks — is so anxiety-inducing that we actually cannot stand it, excuse us, we have to lie down.