Stories have a way of changing. I write that sentence within eyesight of the world famous Hollywood sign, and there are hundreds of patently uncreative movie studio executives who would vehemently deny that perspective. They would say stories are predictable and immutable. Tinseltown has turned out variations of the same story for 100 years: stuff happens, but the good guy always wins, true love is always found, justice is always served, even if it’s of a criminal bent, such as in a Scorsese film. The glaring exception to that is the massive HBO hit, “Game of Thrones” where the only formula it follows is to not follow a formula. It follows life in that the only real truth all races, religions, genders and economic classes can depend upon is that all men, and women, must die.
You may raise a toast to the departed and those of us yet to go, and take a sip of your whisky now. This is a blog where whisky and writing, Scotch and storytelling, bourbon and blarney, meet. Today’s story is about whiskey. And writing. And the unexpected that happens in both worlds.
Last fall, I started to write a blog about the whiskey distilleries of the Pacific Northwest, well, three of them. I had visited each during a two week trip in November to visit old friends and to pursue a woman whom I’d met in L.A. who had moved to Seattle for a six-month work assignment. The piece I started to write was one about journey and discovery, akin to the Lewis and Clark quest for the Northwest Passage.
However, in December an editor I knew at a publishing company which had nearly published my book, Distilling Rob: Manly Lies and Whisky Truths, reached out to ask me to consider writing a book about the rapidly growing craft distillery movement in the U.S. My post was on hold as I examined the possibilities of writing a book about the craft distillery movement across the whole of America, not just the three distilleries in the Pacific Northwest.
We had a discussion. I had an outline. More discussions. More outlines. Different discussions. Completely different outlines. Then, after six months of this, came word from higher up that the company no longer wanted to pursue the book. The story ended before it began.
And that wasn’t the only one.
I took multiple trips to Seattle last fall and winter, and started a personal story with the girl I’d pursued. The story had all the elements: whiskey coziness on a rainy night, New Year’s Eve magic, Valentine’s Day romance, and a three-trip quest for some damn seafood chowder, which you’d think would be easy to find in Seattle (that last part was kind of a personal side plot that had nothing to do with the romance.) But, just as one would expect to find seafood chowder in a port city and one would expect to find happily ever after in a heartfelt connection, in the end all I got was some fried fish and a relationship that was ultimately severed faster than Ned Stark’s head.
Some stories simply don’t happen the way one expects they should. And that brings us at long last to Clear Creek, Bull Run and Westland whiskey distilleries. I would not have discovered these places had it not been for pursuing the girl. They were unforeseen subplots.
Over the next few posts, I will reveal those stories. Each, in their way, offered an unexpected twist to what I’d anticipated I’d find in a Pacific Northwest whiskey. I’d discover peat among pears, a bull near a china shop and the water of life in a wet land.
We’ll turn to that chapter next time.