I was reading a post by writing guru Jeff Goins the other day which talked about the work that goes into blogging and writing. Not the inspiration, the idea, the enthusiasm or the attempt at fame, fortune and love from all, but the work. The work is what happens when you feel you have nothing to say and even worse, that no one is listening even if you do have something to say. The work is what separates someone who wants to be heard from someone who wants to be listened to.
My friend Matt Forbeck knows all about the work. He’s a very successful writer who decided to challenge himself by writing 12 novels in 12 months in 2012. It’s not enough that he’s the father of five (four of them quads) or that he’s highly sought after in the science fiction and fantasy realm. That’s a lot of writing to commit to, and there are plenty of days when he’s exhausted, sick or doesn’t have the muse, but he puts in the work. The work is what gets him from the inspiration that starts a story to the exaltation that comes upon completing a story.
When it comes to writing and whisky, the work is what will eventually separate those bloggers who are dabbling in something that intrigues them from people who want to be part of the “whisky fabric” as Johanne McInnis calls it. Seeing a drop in readership or a lack of response to one’s writing is a challenge to many bloggers. Many will pack it in and call it the end of an interesting experiment. I view such obstacles as an opportunity to see how committed I am to the work of writing. And, more importantly, how committed I am to myself. As I’ve stated in a few blogs, I believe one must first write to speak to one’s own heart. The moment that connection is lost, there’s no reason to keep at it.
This week, I am exploring the use of whisky storytelling as a way to introduce novices to the world of whisky and as a way to show new threads to those of us already in the whisky fabric. My last post shared a tale of how James Bond himself turned into Dr. No when I tried to share Macallan 18 with him. Today, I’m telling the story of a whisky obstacle, in fact, the biggest whisky obstacle of all – a complete revulsion to the drink.
Karl is five years older than me and lives in the yellow ranch house on the other side of the street. It is sandwiched between the red ranch house and the brown ranch house, which is directly opposite our white ranch house. For the past two summers, Karl has been my best friend, despite him being in his early teens. He is my Army partner on many important missions, like launching smoke bombs at the old plastics manufacturing plant that lay in the nearby woods or sneaking up on the ever-sleeping security guard at the local history museum and firing caps at him. After one of these missions, we return to Karl’s house for our usual round of lemonade. His older brother Kirk – the ever-mischievous Kirk – is in the kitchen when we walk through the back screen door. Kirk takes one good look at us, fully dressed in our military garb with our little guns and starts laughing in a way that makes me feel less gallant than I’d been a few moments earlier.
“Whoa!” he says, holding his hands up. “Is this a stick-up?”
Karl throws a plastic hand grenade at Kirk, hitting him in the head. The two tussle for a minute, laughing the entire time.
“I need to pee,” Karl says to no one in particular. He points to me and speaks to Kirk as he heads to the bathroom, “Get Robby a drink, will you?”
“Shuuuuure,” Kirk responds with a grin. “So, what’ll it be GI Joe?”
“Lemonade,” I squeak.
“Nah, you’ve been out fighting all day, right?”
“You need a man’s drink.”
I am horrified at the prospect of having a man’s drink. All I can think of is coffee. I hate coffee. It must be 90 degrees outside. Please God, don’t let him give me coffee! Kirk quickly eases my fear.
“Nah, it’s nothing bad. It’s like coke, but from a bottle, not a can. I’ll even give you some ice, O.K.?”
Ice is the magic word.
He reaches into a cabinet above the sink and pulls out a huge bottle with a white label. The liquid inside is brown.
“See, just like coke!” he assures me.
This brown elixir of men is poured over ice in a small glass. Kirk hands me the glass.
“Here you go soldier! Drink up!”
I greedily oblige at the same moment Karl re-enters the room. Though he is ten-feet away, the spray of whiskey from my mouth hits him with enough velocity that he doesn’t have time to cover his eyes.
That was my first introduction into the world of whiskey, that manliest of manly drinks. Not an auspicious occasion, I’d say. But, one that stuck with me. I wonder what Karl and Kirk would think if they could see me now as a whisky writer. Like a writing obstacle, if I would have focused on this bad experience I would have never explored a new and fascinating world. But, I did overcome the challenge and eventually put in the work to make me the whisky aficionado I am today. Well, my liver put in the work…