Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Beer and Fiction

I don’t just write about beer. I own two pencils: one for beer, one for fiction. I’ve worked on a couple of screenplays and I’ve just started a novel. Generally I write fiction in the morning before work and I write about food and beer in the evenings. What I’ve realised recently is that the two are not mutually exclusive.

When I write fiction I’m creating whole worlds: entire cities of characters; moods, tones, emotions; plot, drive, pace, desire; laughter, tears, sex, violence; places, colours, sounds, smells, temperatures; heroes, villains, lovers. And I do this all with the words that I order on the page.

A lot of my beer writing comes in the form of tasting notes. Sometimes I write these up for the blog, other times they stay in my notebook for my own reference and because I’m a beer geek. But writing tasting notes is not just an exercise in beer geekyness; it wakes up my creativity: when I smell and taste a beer I have to connect something real and physical with memories I have of flavours and experiences and then put words to them. And I think about potential food pairing too, matching flavours, ingredients, combinations, textures, temperatures, recipes.

Beer writing is me experiencing something tangible that is in front of me; fiction is created within me. Yet both beer and fiction have colours and flavours and textures and smells; both require me to think creatively to be able to describe what I experience – real world or story world; both describe the sensations of the senses; both need to be written well to be best understood; both have my own style. Both allow me to flex my bulging writing muscle.

(Please Note: I am not a washed up drunk wannabe screenwriter or novelist who uses the title of ‘Beer Writer’ to excuse myself, and I never write when I’ve had more than one beer – that’s a slippery downward slope! It is perhaps worth noting that some of the greatest writers of all time have been tremendous drunks: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, William Faulkner…)

No comments:

Post a comment