Denver teems. Tens of of thousands of buzzing Great American Beer Festival attendees line up to taste the beer flowing very freely through the honeycombed halls and chambers of the Colorado Convention center.
I am not one of them.
Instead I sit at my desk at home, left elbow swollen to twice its size, struggling to type a blog post with one hand. I’m recovering from my second elbow surgery of the year: the second attempt to regain the function I lost nearly five years ago. It’s been a total pain in the ass (and arm) but for someone who literally types for a living, a necessary move to ensure less pain in the future.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of the people who do get to attend GABF this year. But as fun as it would be to revel in drunken debate over who AB-InBev will sally-up to next, I find my general frothing love for beer settling a bit. My once white hot desire kill FOMO where it stood by brewery hopping and tasting voraciously has cooled into a scholarly reverence for the science, sociology, and anthropology all swirled up in the glass.
That, or the Percocet is speaking for me.
It just so happens that GABF lines up with my anniversary. 2015 marks my sixth year of running Literature and Libation. It’s been a slow one on the blog, mostly because of the two aforementioned surgeries. Physically, they took me out for weeks at a time when I lacked use of fingers, hands, elbows. Mentally, I had to deal with the brain fog and sleepiness of a nacroctic-laced world.
Excuses, I know. But a little explanation (and apology) as to why I’ve missed weeks of blogging at a time.
And by “slow” I mean slow in terms of my writing output, not for overall readership. You readers have been steady and awesome, and I thank you dearly for it. I hope you know that sometimes, when a blogger thinks all is for naught, that comment or like or slight uptick in stats is enough to remind them that someone out there is completing the circuit, turning thing written into thing read and making this whole blogging thing worthwhile.
Instead of being in Denver, seeking yet another pour of Cigar City, I’ll spend my GABF time being a little introspective, and give a little insight into what I’ve been working on, why, and where its fate stands in the grand scheme of my writing.
Writing Outside the Blog
I don’t toot my own horn too much (Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder once said, “well you might at least let us know you have a horn”), but I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been toiling, interviewing, and researching a lot behind the scenes, and have an article about the mystique and design of tap handles coming out in the latest (print!) edition of All About Beer magazine. Writing for a nationally distributed magazine has been one of my goals for a long time, and it feels especially good to see some of my writing come to life on ink and paper, rather than just a screen.
I’m working on a few other things for AAB too, but can’t really say much until ideas are in place and accepted. Either way, I’m very happy to be writing for such a well edited and well put together magazine. It’s really, as cliche as it sounds, a writerly dream come true.
I have posted 12 chapters (or 16,279 words) of my serialized beer novel so far, and have another ~12 chapters written (but not edited). My original goal was to write one chapter a week, but I clearly failed at that. C’est la vie. Life lesson learned: schedules aren’t my thing, and generating creativity on the fly (especially during busy work weeks) is no simple task.
I never made it too clear, but obviously I had not written the novel ahead of time, and planned to write it “live” one chapter at a time, all mistakes and plot holes (and the fun therein) included. I felt particularly Dickensian when I put the plan together. I still plan to finish this novel on the blog, but won’t be holding myself to any specific timeline. It received a pretty solid reception for being something as niche and strange as “beer fiction,” and I’ve even met a few other aspiring beer writers through it, including Leslie Patiño, who is actively writing a beer-centric novel.
I started this project because I thought there was a dearth in beer and brewing related fiction. I still think there is. I’m also working on a list of beer’s appearances in popular media, but that concept will get its own post at some point.
As much passion as I have for the project, I must admit: the effort of running two blogs at the same time was a bit much for me. The creation of posts, maintenance of the sites, sharing the content, all the logistical rigmarole just proved too much. It was either sacrifice the new website or my job, so sad but obvious decisions were made.
The good news is, I actually did grow hops, barley, and capture my own yeast this year. I toiled hard in that backyard dirt and have some very fascinating results, along with several hundreds of pages of notes. I have even added to the original scope substantially, covering things a brewer may want to grow besides the big four, including fruit, spices, and peppers.
I learned a hell of a lot this Spring and Summer, but didn’t have the time (or functional arms) to turn it all into formal blog posts. Now that I’ve gotten the basics under control and better understand my limitations (the wetness of Maryland makes barley here very susceptible to disease), next year I can actually provide some content that will help like minded brewer-gardeners grow all their own beer.
I should have suspected I’d need a practice year, but at least now I’ve got tons of pictures, research, and notes to work from, and can make Homegrew more of an tangible resource for other people to use in 2016.
Nom de Bier
My newest project is very exciting, and I’ve been reading a lot more than usual to prepare for it. I opened with a beer review by Shakespeare, and have two more (one by H.P. Lovecraft, one by Earnest Hemingway) coming soon. It’s going to take me some time to study the authors my readers suggested, so those posts will come after I’ve gotten my feet wet. This whole project requires a lot of extracurricular reading. Not that I’m complaining; I’ll just need to carve out some additional time to put eyes to text.
2016 and Beyond
I rarely admit this, but there were times this year, where (in pain and out of ideas) I thought maybe this blog had reached its natural lifespan, and should be put out to URL pasture. There’s a sort of natural ebb and flow to running and writing for something like this, but I didn’t want to go through too many spiritual rebirths trying to keep my own interest alive and in turn lose the entire identity of the blog.
I’m happy to say that my doomsaying was premature, and now, over the crest of the wave of my surgeries and physical rough spots, I feel a renewed energy to keep writing. I hope you’re still onboard to keep reading.