State of the Savage: December 2011

by Keith Savage · 7 comments

My Reflection in a Puddle in Glasgow, Scotland

The end of every year seems to alternate between an explosive bang and an expectant breath. Two years ago, as 2009 ended, I was one month into my decision to quit my job and launch a bootstrapping career as a travel writer. Sarah and I were focused, a little anxious, but prepared to follow through.

Last year at this time I’d quit my job of more than seven years and just returned from a dizzying five weeks in Argentina. My spirit was high – I was executing my vision and preparing for a year full of trips to Scotland. Fireworks!

Today, just four days from 2012, I’m a picture of uncertainty. A week ago I tapped out the following snippet on a stream-of-consciousness poetry site I’ve maintained for nine years:

Far more frequent
is the explorer
who drowns amidst the wreckage
of his ship
than the starry-eyed mariner
who finds a new world.

This is my subconscious coming to terms with certain avenues I’ve pursued in the last couple of years. I’m a defeatist by nature, and I tend to look at events in a melancholy blue light, but I know it’s healthy to wrap up things and put a bow on them when they end, for better or for worse. The hell of it is I don’t know the details yet, just that I’m moving into a new phase.

I often wonder if my decision to try and turn something I love into a financial raft is fatally flawed. There’s so much data out there suggesting the addition of money to the equation is a wonderful way to transmogrify that “loved thing” into an albatross of despair (for a good read on this topic, check out The Overjustification Effect). The pursuit of art must be intrinsically motivated if there is any hope of creating something of lasting value.

These recent State of the Savages have been a lot of navel gazing. It’s a waste of energy. It’s the skid mark of perfectionism. The right thing to do is embrace the current situation, clear the mind of these useless cycles of thought, and get to work. And that’s my new year’s resolution.

Wish me luck.

Plans & Happenings

I’m writing to you from gorgeous Fort Myers, Florida where I’m in the middle of a relaxing week with my in-laws. Who knew winter was an old wives’ tale in parts of the USA? Its been refreshing to get out of my routines in cold, dark Madison and spend time swimming in the ocean and sizzling in the sun. I head back to Wisconsin in time for new year’s eve and then Sarah and I return to Florida – this time to Orlando and Disney World – at the end of January. We’re looking forward to butterbeer.

My next trip to Scotland will take place at the end of April and run for two or three weeks. Expect lots of whisky coverage, some poetic takes on the Orkney Islands, and perhaps even a jaunt around the Borders.

In case you missed it, I wrote a guest post for Holiday Scotland about the origin of my love for the country. It felt like a fitting topic as I marked off my two-year anniversary of blogging this month! Go check it out here and raise a toast to Mel.

What will I be doing for the next few months? I’ll continue to write about my previous trips to Scotland in 2011 – still lots to catch up on – and begin working on a new, super-secret project that will likely take up a lot of time.

Wish me luck. Again.

Parting Blow

Are extrinsic rewards altering your internal narrative about why you do what you’re doing? Did you used to do something for the love of it, but now do it, ultimately, for the money? What effect has that had on you?

Listening to: Stars of the Lid

Katherine HerrimanNo Gravatar January 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

A “new, super-secret project that will likely take up a lot of time”? So, how do you feel about telling me all the details right now? That would be cool.

I absolutely lean towards defeatism but it’s hard to keep that up after spending most of one’s time with Mike. Maybe I can loan him out to you?


Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Mike is awesome for that and I deeply admire that spirit.

As for telling you right now…wish I could 🙂


WanderNWayneNo Gravatar December 29, 2011 at 4:37 PM

From a magnet on our fridge:

There ain’t no answer.
There ain’t going to be an answer.
There never has been an answer.
THAT’S the answer.

– Gertrude Stein


Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 30, 2011 at 8:16 AM

Good advice. Thanks Wayne.


JennaNo Gravatar December 28, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I think anytime there is money or other numbers involved, it is inevitable that we lose our initial focus and end up doing things just to get those numbers in the “right” direction. It is good that you are already thinking about this because I think it will help you to stay true to yourself as you continue. I try to surround myself with others with a similar perspective so that we encourage each other for the right reasons.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 29, 2011 at 8:40 AM

Good idea about building a circle of writers with same perspective. Thanks for the insight, Jenna!


KenNo Gravatar December 28, 2011 at 4:02 PM

I don’t see you as a defeatist. It takes courage to do as you’ve done. We’ll all be looking forward to perhaps seeing your super secret project as it takes form. Life is change and you have to work with it.


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