State of the Savage: September 2013

by Keith Savage · 7 comments


Another summer burns in the flames of the harvest. Here we are again, hurtling toward winter and a revolution into the next number in line. I’m not sad to see summer disappear; autumn has always been my favorite season and one in which I’m usually more productive.

That’s a good thing, too, since this past summer was a huge bust from a productivity standpoint.

Happily, however, I finished the zero draft of my novel in May, just two days before I left for a month in Spain and Switzerland. Upon returning to the States, we relished our opportunity to host our friends Michael and Katherine of various and well-deserved fame, most notably Technomadics, A Tasty Pixel, and Nellie Windmill. Long-time readers of Traveling Savage might recognize them from our serendipitous meetings in Scotland during the spring of 2011.

Shortly after their return to Oz, I contracted and endured a lengthy bout with Lyme disease (perhaps you picked up on my tongue-in-cheek references in my last State of the Savage). That’s what I get for breaking my life-long ban on camping. Following on my illness was our cat Fingal’s illness, a special bug known as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) or FIC (Feline Idiopathic Cystitis) that proved life-threatening and required me to essentially watch over him for all of August. It was lucky – for him – that I work from home; the flipside, however, is that I got very little done.

Writing it out like this makes it all seem pretty silly. Everyone has ish to deal with.

The albatross circling over all this has been the state of my novel and moving into the next phase of work, which is revising the zero draft into first draft shape. The zero draft was supposed to be for my eyes only, but I eventually broke down in August and handed it to two close, highly trust-worthy people for their input. The feedback helped. In the past few months I’ve sharpened my focus on the themes that were touched on here and there throughout the zero draft, cut roughly half of said zero draft (by eliminating an entire POV character (7 chapters) and throwing away all 11 chapters of another character’s POV), and spent a lot of time building personas for the main characters.

But I don’t feel good about it. I should, I think, but I don’t. Since returning from Europe I’ve been creatively constipated, afflicted with doubt, [insert list of standard artistic ailments], etc.

Yesterday Sarah told me about this interview of Sam Beam, the guy behind Iron & Wine, on public radio and how he taught himself how to be a musician, how it was really just an accident, and how he believed in his vision and creativity with unyielding zeal (my words, not his or hers). There are many stories like this: Ira Glass, Patrick Rothfuss, and probably most artists who have brought their creations to fruition. They just kept going no matter the opposition.

I need to find this type of faith. I need to believe in my work. The opposition I face is that natty, annoying voice in my head that says it’s not good enough now and it won’t be good enough no matter how much work I put in. It doesn’t matter if it’s brain chemistry or learned behavior at this point, it simply needs to stop. Perhaps what I need is a ritual, a kind of exorcism for this evil spirit.

Yeah. Yeah, I think so.

When I return from Europe (see below), I’m going to head out to the land Sarah and I bought earlier this year and build a campfire. I’ll bunch up all this nauseating, ridiculous, pointless self doubt, heap it on the pyre, and conduct a ceremonial burning. Watch the flames. Will it all to dust so it can blow away on the ashes of summer.

Plans & Happenings

I leave this Saturday for a 10-day trip to Italy with my family! This one has been a long time coming, and I think we’re all excited to get some R&R in a Tuscan villa. I hope you enjoyed the recent Kentucky Bourbon Trail coverage. After I return from Italy, Scotland-focused posts will resume (perhaps with a Bourbon post here and there).

TeoNo Gravatar September 23, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Autumn is also my favourite season. great for working.

thursaNo Gravatar September 20, 2013 at 5:22 AM

Doubt afflicts all writers. You are not as alone in that as you think. All one can do is keep on cycling through the demon-wood and eventually you get to a clearing. Or, to bastardise a well known saying – feel the doubt and do it anyway 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 20, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Cycling through the demon-wood…I like that.

MarjorieNo Gravatar September 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Tuscany, perfect place to relax and get the creative juices flowing again. Marjoie

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Here’s hoping.

DaveNo Gravatar September 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Hi Keith, sorry to hear about your creative constipation, though it does sound like things got heaped on you for awhile there. Hope your family has a good time in Italy.

BTW, glad to see you’re a fan of Rothfuss! I love his books, and he’s a cool guy. I follow his blog as well, and have met him a couple times.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 18, 2013 at 5:08 PM

I really enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss’s books. Doesn’t hurt that he’s also a Wisconsin lad, just a few hours north of me.

Thanks for well wishes.

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