An amber splash burns in the bottom of a Glencairn glass. Fiddles, pipes, and guitars send a reel swirling around the pub’s patrons. Shredded coastline and dramatic mountain ranges bedeck the highlands. Ancient battlefields echo with the struggles of ages past.
What do these images all have in common? They’re all things I love about my next destination: Scotland. I leave for Edinburgh on March 1 and return three weeks later. And after this trip I will be returning to Scotland for subsequent trips and focusing Traveling Savage on Scotland for the foreseeable future.
Whew! It feels great to share this news and I’m excited for the future like never before! This shift in the direction of Traveling Savage addresses many of the issues I’ve recently wrestled:
After returning from Argentina I had plenty of time to look at Traveling Savage from a business point of view, strategic work I scrimped on prior to my trip. I saw Traveling Savage as the vehicle to get me to various parts of the world I would normally not have visited with my previous job’s three weeks of yearly vacation. I was excited by the opportunity for personal growth, to put myself in strange and uncomfortable positions and become stronger for it.
But Traveling Savage is my foray into entrepreneurship, and it needs to be guided by business sense. Successful travel writers are experts, and the reality is that the tentative plan I hacked together would not render me an expert in anything. Once I separated my personal interests from my business interests, the direction of Traveling Savage became much clearer. In fact, it’s been in front of my face the whole time, but I was hiding from it. It all starts with answering this question: What do I want to be an expert on?
A passionate niche
It was clear that Scotland was where I want to cast my lot and direct my energies toward becoming an expert. It’s a place I’m deeply passionate about, from the history to the landscape to the music to the whisky, and it’s a place I can see myself happily writing about for a very long time. I’ve been to Scotland four times in the last seven years and yet I daydream about it with freakish regularity. Why deny what seems so apparent?
I made some basic mistakes with my first trip, like not picking and researching topics and angles in advance, that could have been avoided had I read some of the travel writing books in my library. So I learned the hard way that there are many barriers that need to be overcome in the course of travel writing, things like language and loneliness, and passion provides a huge boost in this effort. I’m eager to dive into Scotland with a fresh mindset and produce some excellent travel writing!
There is a certain caché with being an around-the-world traveler – it’s cool and exciting to jet around the world and wake up in exotic locations – and it’s tough to give that up, but it’s clearly the right decision for me. I still plan to travel for roughly a month at a time, but the trips might not happen exactly once every quarter; my trips will be scheduled to take advantage of events that coincide with the themes I aim to investigate.
Next stop: Edinburgh
I will spend the first three weeks of March exploring Edinburgh and its surrounding areas. Edinburgh’s ancient pubs, its spooky underground city, its literary greats, and local music are just some of the ideas I plan to track down. Later this year, there’s the Islay Malt Whisky Festival, Shetland’s Folk Festival, and Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival all calling my name. Finally, here are some words from Sir Walter Scott that resonated with me as I made this decision:
O Caledonia! stern and, wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
excerpt from Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my plans!
Original photo by jk_scotland via Flickr under Creative Commons