State of the Savage: July 2011

by Keith Savage · 24 comments

Boats on Loch Leven, Scotland

Here I am drinking a green smoothie and listening to Radiohead. It’s 8:32AM. Our cat Pip sleeps curled up on the other computer chair in my office. He thinks he owns the place. Faint light breaks through last night’s storm clouds and peeks through the blinds. “You got some nerve, coming here,” says Thom.

Sarah’s gone to work. It’s her birthday, but she’s staring at another 12-hour workday. The last two months have been brutal for her. I sprinkle work throughout the day in between dashes of yardwork and errands and exercise. Working from home has only made the discrepancy between us more obvious.

I turned 31 this month, but July has been youthening. I’ve been recharging in my hermitage, spending my days in the visual equivalent of a back float on placid water.

But I have this niggling sense that I should be doing more. That my approach to Traveling Savage – lest I forget this is a start-up – is inherently lazy or ill-informed. Shouldn’t I be grinding from dawn to dusk? Shouldn’t I be pulling out my hair because there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or is that just some Hollywood nonsense, some old way thinking? Catholic guilt?

Working smart rather than working hard has generally been my approach to life. Then again if rationalizing were an Olympic event I think I’d be a gold medalist. This is an odd place to be: I’m free of the eight-to-whatever grind, and I cherish the freedom and space, but my other half still whirls in that pool.

I think it’s about the “feeling” of this work. Working on Traveling Savage and traveling to Scotland sure doesn’t feel like work. This seems like an appropriate moment to quote Mark Twain: “The secret to success is to make your vocation your vacation.”

Oooh, The Tourist just came on.

Plans & Happenings

Last month I vowed to kick off the planning of my next trip to Scotland, and so I have. I fly out of Milwaukee on August 30 and return from Glasgow on September 20. This three-week trip will have me visiting some of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, including the isles of Arran, Islay, and Mull. I am beyond excited to finally visit the Mecca of smoky single malt whisky (Islay) and the wildlife paradise that is Mull. I spent a couple nights on Arran back in 2006 and absolutely loved it. I’ll conclude the trip with a three-night stint in Glasgow and, hopefully, a meeting with the ever-hilarious Mike Sowden.

I’m in the process of nailing down car rentals, ferries, and accommodations now, and I’ve got several inquiries out to distilleries. I’ll be doing more research in the coming weeks to ensure many full and vibrant days, so please let me know if you have recommendations for things to do and see on these islands. In the meantime I’ve still got loads of posts to share with you from my previous two trips to Scotland this year.

San Francisco is once more in my plans. I’m heading there in early October to visit my brother and his fiancΓ© and to reconnect with some bloggers I met in Vancouver. Speaking of Vancouver, I met Lisa Lubin of LLWorldTour there. She’s the Chicago host of Meet, Plan, Go, the nation’s largest career break movement, and after talking with her I’ve agreed to be part of the panel at this October’s event.

I’ve got a couple balls in the air on the project front. Simon of Never Ending Voyage and I are working through a couple app ideas hatched in Vancouver. I can’t say much about them now, but there’s potential for some really cool, useful weapons for your travel arsenal. I’m also in the conception phase of an ebook that would blend a couple of styles of posts you see here on Traveling Savage. More info to come!

Parting Blow

A good friend I met in Scotland said she knew what she wanted from her career, so she wrote a post declaring her intent – she shouted it to the world – and by luck or chance or karma it’s now likely to come true. I haven’t figured out what I want to shout yet. Have you?

RodneyNo Gravatar August 11, 2011 at 4:04 AM

So many replies and nobody has mentioned the obvious: You have a great taste in music!! Actually I got hooked after reading “and listening to Radiohead” πŸ˜‰ Morning m’ Lord AND the Tourist! Will drop by more often πŸ˜€

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM

Thanks Rodney. Radiohead is – without question – my favorite band ever.

RodneyNo Gravatar August 12, 2011 at 3:08 AM

πŸ˜‰ One question: does music influence your writing? What I mean is, when you’re writing and listening to a specific type of music (unles you, like me, listen to the Tourist on repeat forever!), it normally influences your mood. Does that show in your writing? I’m off to write some myself, so will ask myself the same question. πŸ™‚ I like your blog, will definitely drop by more often, like I said. πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 12, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Music is hugely influential for me. Sometimes I’ll be doing something else online and a song will come on that forces me to go write. I can’t it dictates what I write, just that certain music puts my mind in a state where the words comes much more easily.

TimNo Gravatar July 31, 2011 at 9:34 PM

The feeling that you are not working enough comes from being raised in a culture that defines people by their job description. Another factor is living in a culture where people wear their busyness like a badge of honor,people seem to be proud of how busy they are.In addition we live in a culture that actually discourages contemplation,silence,reflection,etc. and overemphasizes always being productive, so you feeling you should be doing more is just a natural result of the environment from which you sprang. Read: when you get a chance.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 1, 2011 at 7:43 AM

No disagreement here. Often I skip past this stage, but you’ve opened my eyes a bit to see that I need update my “firmware,” so to speak. Thanks for the link.

KatherineNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Mike and I have both struggled with the vague, disquieting feeling that we’re not working “enough”. We used to use a little app that you clock in and out of to record the hours you’ve spent working. We’ve ditched that now but it was interesting seeing the results. If left to our own devices we can spend anywhere from 5-12 hours a day working.

At the moment, in order to have some sort of balance, I have a schedule – 8 hours on, 8 hours off. It’s actually more useful for making sure I take time off, free from nagging thoughts about how I should be working, than it is for making sure I work enough. I’ve also structured it around my natural bio-rythms, so I take most of my time off in the morning and lay in bed until 10am reading (A Storm of Swords!), completely guild-free. I also have a generous 2 hours for linner, giving me time plenty of time to cook something yummy. This means I end up working until 9pm, but that works for me. Mike goes through cycles of non-stop work that last for weeks or months on end and then he’s completely unproductive for a week or two.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s necessary to live without structure for a while and wonder if you’re doing enough, in order to work out what your natural tendencies are. For me, I like having a routine so as soon as I felt like having a schedule again I created one that was to my liking and I enjoy sticking to it. Mike’s schedule is inbuilt and spans weeks and weeks. Funny how something as simple as working (and resting) when you feel like it can be so complicated!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Super interesting peek into your lifestyle, Katherine. Thanks for sharing it. I like that you mention bio-rhythms – I tend to work hard as soon as I get up, relax/do chores/exercise through mid-day, and then work a bit more in the evening/night. It’s just what feels right.

Seems like you might have a better opinion of A Song of Ice and Fire now?

Lisa | LLWorldTourNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 2:10 PM

I feel that every single day. Am I doing enough “work”? What did I -really- accomplish today? On and on…
I too, have so much going on at once – I like it and it’s maddening at the same time. But like Mike said, I guess I’m trying everything and constantly meeting new people that still fascinate me so it’s a pretty great existence and journey.

So excited to have you with us for Meet Plan Go this year! At least 5-10 of our last year attendees in Chicago took the plunge and quit their jobs and are traveling now. It’s a great movement and ‘cult’ to be a part of! πŸ˜‰

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Guess us folk just need to get ourselves out there and pimp our work. Good reminder.

I’m excited to be a part of Meet, Plan, Go. I didn’t really know about it when I quit my job to travel and write, but I wish I had. Having a cohort of people in similar situations might have made it easier.

AndiNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 1:26 PM

I want to escape the corporate rat race and travel…second choice, leave the Bay Area for a simpler life.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Cheers Andi, glad you know what you’re looking for πŸ™‚

Andi of My Beautiful AdventuresNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

HB Sarah!!! I’m a July baby too!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

That makes three πŸ˜‰

MikeachimNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 4:32 AM

Also, what worries me about what I’m doing is this: missing the opportunity to do something by trying to do everything.

I’ve got my eye on myself in this regard. I hope that’s enough.

MikeachimNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Looking forward to raising a glass with you, Keith. Although you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re expecting “hilarious”. I only have a very small amount of weak humour available, and I use all of it in my writing. The rest of the time I’m soberly bitter. (Apart from when I have whisky, when I’m drunkly bitter. Or bitter, when I’m drunkly bittered. Okay, I’m ending this parenthetical aside before it wipes out both our days).

There’s a lot of pressure these days for web entrepreneurs (read: anyone who has any kind of webwork going on). There’s all the super-motivating folk saying “Joe X was living in a shoebox in the middle of the road, but he worked nights and built a successful tribe that loved shoeboxes (“write what you know”), and now he’s the editor of the Footwear section of the Huffington Post”. All the stories of people doing genuinely incredible things (and while the previous was flippant, I’m actually in awe of all these case studies) and the people with a flair for bringing this awesomeness out of people…

But all this presumes you know what you want to do. Because in a way, the doing it is the easy bit. If you’re absolutely sure what you want to do, if your dream is sharp and crisp in your mind’s eye, you have the confidence you need to totally throw yourself at it.

Except…not really. I’m not actually sure I believe that at all. Does anyone have that unshakeable monotheistic faith in a project? Yes, there’s obviously a point for successful people where a particular course became The Right Thing To Do, and they fell in love with it and jumped with both feet. But getting there? I reckon that involves experimenting. Experimenting wildly. Trying frickin’ *everything*. Reading until your head hurts, greeting people until your handshake hurts, keeping an open mind and keeping faith that out there is the unique combination of external opportunities and internal passion to fission and create a runaway career.

And that combination is different for everyone, which is why I respect people like Chris Guillebeau. He’s not selling a by-the-numbers career toolkit, he’s selling an attitude toolkit. Geeky scifi metaphor: the former is a screwdriver (use: remove screws of a certain size), the latter is a sonic screwdriver (uses: everything from opening a can of sweetcorn right up to Destroying Entire Dalek Civilization).

Problem is, experimenting never, ever feels like work (and rarely looks like work either). So it breeds guilt.

Aye. There’s the rub.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Ok, maybe I’d win the silver medal for rationalizing – just kidding! This is a perfectly communicated look at the process and it makes me feel somewhat better knowing at least one other person experiences the same thing. I wouldn’t say I’m trying *everything* – on the contrary, I’m super-selective of what I try to the point where I wonder if I’m killing good ideas before I give ’em a shot. I wonder if I’m stubbornly tending a smoke signal fire, hoping the right person will come along and offer me the career I never knew I wanted.

Andy JaroszNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 2:30 AM

Good stuff as always Keith. I do understand where you’re coming from. Like you, I quit my job a little over two years ago and started from scratch while my wife kept working. It was hard at times to see her working flat out while I was planning or pacing the floors thinking what I should write. We’ve come through that point now and now that I’m earning a regular income from my writing it takes a lot of pressure off her. The key thing is the mutual support – it sounds like Sarah backs you fully in your actions and as long as you stay sensitive to her work pressures you’ll be just fine πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Did you have to compromise on your “dream” to get that income rolling in?

As for the mutual support, it’s a great point and it’s there. Thanks Andy!

Andy JaroszNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM

I would say that maybe I had to focus on the dream rather than compromise on it. I started off writing about anything that I got paid for; electric wheelchairs, hospitals, pensions…. it was only when I really got disciplined and told myself that if I want to write purely in travel then I should look for work purely in travel that I got my head down, networked like crazy and things started to come in. Hope that’s helpful – keep up the great work.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

That’s an encouraging development, focusing on what you actually want to be doing and making it work. Congrats Andy.

Jeremy BranhamNo Gravatar July 27, 2011 at 7:45 PM

No, I haven’t figured out yet I want either but right now I am enjoying the ride. As for all this ‘work’, if you need help on how to work from dawn til dusk, I can surely help you with that. It will mean tweaking things a little bit in your life – have your wife quit her job, have 2 kids, and work another FT job but if you need any advice, let me know! πŸ™‚

With that said, I totally understand how doing this stuff doesn’t feel like work! πŸ™‚

As for the San Francisco trip, that’s not too far from me. When will you be in town? What dates? I will be on a trip through mid October so just curious about your plans! Have a great time in Scotland!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 27, 2011 at 9:08 PM

I remember talking to you about your situation while in Vancouver – sounds much more difficult than mine.

Second weekend in October for SF.

KenNo Gravatar July 27, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Sounds like some great plans! The islands will be exciting and educational, and I’ll be watching for the posts and the ebook.

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