Credit: Jane Phillip/AP

George R.R. Martin is clearing the decks to finish The Winds of Winter.

With HBO’s Game of Thrones expected to move into previously uncharted narrative territory next year, the author told his readers Monday night that he’s skipping the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga and the mega Comic-Con fan event in San Diego this year. Martin has typically participated—either as a moderator or guest—in the HBO show’s Comic-Con panel. Plus, his publisher Random House typically has a party at the event, with Martin as the guest of honor. Martin previously opted out of writing an episode of Thrones for season 5, which premieres April 12.

“I have too much to do,” Martin explained on his blog. “Too many things on my plate. Son of Kong foremost amongst them.” (“Son of Kong” being a pet term Martin uses for TWOW).

But then Martin added something interesting: “Should I complete and deliver Winds of Winter before these cons roll round, I reserve the right to change my mind.” We almost certainly shouldn’t read too much into this. But this seems to suggest Martin sees the light at the end of the tunnel for his sixth A Song of Ice and Fire novel as the first of these fan events is only four months away.

One chip in Martin’s corner is that the serialized and segmented format of his books (which rotate perspective between various characters using point-of-view chapters) tend to lend themselves to different possible stopping points. His last book, 2011’s A Dance with Dragons, was originally supposed to end deeper into his saga. So, in theory, Martin could choose to turn in whatever he has completed and then save the rest for his final planned book, A Dream of Spring.

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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