28 July 2015

Garret Tour Tuesday: Oliver Gray

I would call Oliver Gray a science writer with a niche focus on beer.

But what does Oliver Gray call himself?

"I'm a blogger," he says. "For a long time I just told people I work in IT."

Oliver is a prolific writer, constantly producing content for his main blog, the beautifully-titled-and-executed Literature and Libation, along with his special project Homegrew, which documents his year-long process of making homebrewed beer only from ingredients grown and prepared by him.

"You go from being a guy who likes to drink beer," he says, "to being a guy who wants to work in the beer industry. If you want to have a career in something I think you should try to become an expert."

Oliver is certainly committed to becoming an expert. But let's find out more about the writing space that allows this dedicated beer blogger to produce such pretty prose.

Oliver's magic usually happens in his home office, in front of two 24-inch monitors. 

"I'm very picky about my keyboard," he says. "I also do some writing from my laptop, which usually finds a home on any hard surface it can find when I'm at work or traveling. I always need space for a mouse though. No touchpad nonsense for this guy."

He describes his home office as spacious but cluttered, with notebooks, magazines, books, LEGOs, and cameras and photo accessories. In addition to being a talented writer, Oliver is also a skilled photographer, taking artful pictures of beer (and other things. His family, for instance.)

Oliver doesn't have any particular time of day for writing.

"I'm anti-schedule," he says, "because the rest of my commitments have a tendency to just sort of happen whenever, and scheduling ends up being futile anyway."

He prefers to be alone when writing, if given the choice.

"When with other people, I'm too busy talking or people-watching to get any writing done," he explains.

Drinks of choice?

"If it's pre-4:00, I'll have coffee or tea," he says. "If it's post-4:00, I'll have a beer, or much more rarely, a scotch."

I am not drinking anything while writing this post, and I would probably not confess the current beer contents of my fridge to Oliver Gray, although I suspect any judgement would be mostly in jest.

In addition to his personal writing platforms, Gray also freelances for Brewers Publications, writes for All About Beer Magazine, and occasionally writes standalone essays for other publications.

"I'm nearly always writing."

Some samples of writing by Oliver Gray:

  • Hey Chief: Published by Tin House, this is a beautiful heartbreaking essay about Gray's father
  • December, 1919: a serialized historic fiction novel about a seventeen-year-old Philadelphia native who inherits his father’s brewery right on the cusp of Prohibition in the United States.
  • How to Brew a Boddingtons Cone: I don't even care what a cone is. I've accidentally learned more than I ever wanted to know about brewing beer because I enjoy reading Gray's writing.

Thanks for the peek into your writing space, Oliver!

Garret Tour Tuesday is a series on the space that writers write in. Each post showcases the writing space of a different writer.