State of the Savage: July 2012

by Keith Savage · 13 comments


The ancient Pictish Aberlemno Stone

It’s been a couple of months since my last State of the Savage post. No, I didn’t forget, I’ve just adjusted the frequency of this series to every other month. Maybe you noticed that for the last couple of months Traveling Savage has been getting two new posts per week instead of three. There’s a good reason for these changes. As I mentioned in the last State of the Savage,

I’M WRITING A BOOK.

Like actually getting up at 6:30 and stumbling into my dark den to pound out thousands of words a day. Well, that’s a good day.

It’s not uncommon for me to snooze the alarm five or six times before shuffling downstairs to stare dumbly at the dewy grass while the morning sun thaws my sleep-addled brain (why am I getting up so early, boss?). I make some coffee and a green smoothie and maybe it’s 7:30 or 8 before I actually start writing. I might stare at the glowing rectangle of my Macbook Pro, hands in my lap, for 30, 45, 60 minutes and curse myself for using Self Control to lock myself out of the internet.

The point, however, is that I’m writing. A book. And I’ve been following this schedule for the past two and a half weeks. Some days the words pour of me and other days the creative well is bone dry and I have nothing creative or worthwhile to say. I think, “Can’t this be a movie already?” Despite these tribulations, the experience thus far has left me optimistic for the future.

So what am I writing about? When did I start? Etc. etc.

I’ve subtly alluded to this project on several occasions over the last few months, but I’ve avoided going into detail because the timing felt wrong. When you share an idea before it’s fully developed, you risk someone inadvertently killing it in the cradle with little more than a phrase that strikes you wrong. So I’ve waited until now.

I’m writing an historical fiction/fantasy novel that will be heavily informed by my travels around Scotland. Some key phrases: modern world, dark ages, stone circles, amyn uisce, drunem, thuul, fangavinden. Hmm, seems only I have the Rosetta Stone for this curious list.

The idea came to me at the turn of the year and I spent the next four months researching, reading history books, and developing 50,000 words worth of backstory and worldbuilding. I went to Scotland in April/May and returned home to flesh out my plot lines and put together a writing schedule.

I’m now roughly 20,000 words into the actually writing of the story, and I’m hitting all the classic ups and downs of writers though I haven’t yet started drinking pastis. I hope to have the rough draft finished by the end of the year. It’s difficult for me to leave chapters in a state that clearly needs more work, but I’m focused like a laser on getting the plot down on paper before I comb through the text in the second draft and make it pretty (hopefully with a bit of Picture This flair here and there).

So there you have it. I’ve redirected some of my writing energies toward this book project. It’s very important to me – I don’t pursue ideas unless I fully believe in their merit. Who knows, maybe some of this work will grace the pages of Traveling Savage at certain and mysterious times. We’ll see.

If you’ve got any questions please put them in the comments and I’ll do my best to be both enlightening and circumspect.

Parting Blow

I do my best work when I create situations I can’t get out of. What do you do to facilitate your creative process? How do you bring your best work to life?


CallieNo Gravatar August 25, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Congrats on the book, will be looking forward to it!

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JennaNo Gravatar August 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

How exciting! My mom is a writer, so I know a bit about how much research goes into something like this and how hard it can be to create a real schedule and stick to it–it sounds like you are off to a great start. I look forward to reading it!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Thanks Jenna. Yes, the schedule is a…work in progress.

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wandering educatorsNo Gravatar August 4, 2012 at 6:10 PM

oh!! i’m so excited! can’t wait to read (and share) it. bravo!!

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Just One Boomer (Suzanne)No Gravatar August 2, 2012 at 11:18 PM

I semi-retired from my day job when I was much older than you are and my husband, an immensely practical person, isn’t sure that writing can ever be more than a “hobby” which is making me feel like I have something to prove—probably not a good place to be writing from. Vamos a ver.

(Ironically, my husband would be a great “reader” for your book which sounds like it is in his favorite genre. And, he’ll be first in line for the movie too.)

Write on!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2012 at 8:22 AM

Writing can certainly be more than hobby, but only for a tiny fraction of would-be writers. It’s one of those professions that everyone who can physically type or write words thinks they can do. We’re going to see who is right.

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CHIPNo Gravatar August 1, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I HAVE BEEN DOGGEDLY, BUT VORACIOUSLY READING NOVELS BY RANKIN (INSPIRED BY YOUR POSTS), MANKELL, FURST, CAMILLERI, SABDFIRDM COBEN, BERNARD CORNWELL, CONNELLY, CRAIS AND OTHERS OVER THE PAST YEAR SEEKING MY MUSE. I GUESS ALL ATTORNEYS WANT TO EMULATE SCOTT TUROW’S SUCCESS IN WRITING! MY GOAL IS MID- AUGUST, 2013–SO I HAVE MY WORK CUT OUT FOR ME. THE HISTORICAL ASPECT ADDS SO MUCH RESEARCH. FURST KEEPS BUILDING ON HIS EARLIER RESEARCH, SO IT IS LIKELY EASIER FOR HIM. I THINK I WILL STAY WITH THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD AND LOCALES I KNOW INTIMATELY. YOUR EXPERIENCES IN SCOTLAND ADD A DEPTH THAT I AM CERTAIN YOU CAN EXPLOIT. I AM ESPECIALLY TAKEN BY THE DESCRIPTIONS OF EDINBURGH THAT DETAIL THE CITY BUILT OVER A CITY–AND ALSO THE MALTS AND REAL ALES! CONTINUED SUCCESS.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 1, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Of course Rankin is a good read, and Bernard Cornwell’s historical fiction novels are among my favorite reads of all time. Just good, straight-forward period reads.

Best of luck to you in your writing endeavor!

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KenNo Gravatar July 31, 2012 at 8:03 PM

I’m eagerly but patiently waiting to see the book. If its anything like your “picture this” posts, it’ll be amazing!

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CaroleeNo Gravatar July 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM

We cannot wait for your book! It sounds like something we will enjoy immensely. Keep us posted.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 31, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Thanks, check back soon.

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JeremyNo Gravatar July 31, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Best of luck on your book project! I want to do one sooner than later as well. Biggg commitment!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 31, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Thanks Jeremy. It is indeed huge, and I feel like I don’t even know the half of it yet. I’m just keeping my head down and plowing ahead.

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