January 2014

Fingal looks upon winter

The night was just another one in an endless string of January darkness. Winds howling outside, wind chill at -45F. I was sitting on the futon in the room above our garage metaphorically bashing my head against the manuscript I’ve been “revising” since I returned from Europe in June. I had already tossed out two main characters and half the chapters (see my last State of the Savage), and I was nearing the end of revisions for another character’s storyline. Where there should have been a renewed sense of optimism at my progress there was only a growing unease.

Something was very wrong with my novel.

I had decided to remove the most climactic scene from the book because it felt rushed. Playing with plot lines like this is really dangerous, kind of like giving my cat Fingal a ball of yarn and asking him not to F it up. Knots appear, the yarn gets pulled into wisps, and if you might just shear off the entire tangled mass that was your story. Removing that chapter opened my eyes to a major problem I had been blind to. Read more...

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Trackpacking: Breabach

by Keith Savage · 6 comments

Breabach Live

Last April’s spotlight on Rising Gael has been the most recent Trackpacking post for a whopping nine months, and at the time I promised that I would share more of my favorite traditional Scottish and Celtic musicians in this series. Music has been on mind, lately, as I gear up for another spin around Scotland this April, and today, I’m making good on the promise.

Breabach is no stranger to Traveling Savage. Long-time readers will remember how they kicked in Glenfiddich’s warehouse during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and how they lit up the Shetland Folk Festival going on three years ago now. It’s only appropriate to present them in a Trackpacking article as they are always on my iPod when I’m traveling around Scotland. Read more...

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The view from Islay

Islay is a place of dreams for many, a peaty island nearly equidistant from mainland Scotland and northern Ireland that embraces this liminal situation. It is a land of soft, rolling hills, sandy seaweed-strewn beaches, and rich, smokey whisky aging in countless warehouses overfilled with barrels buffeted by the salty, oceanic winds. Life happens here at a slow pace, a measured pace, that has more to do with treasuring moments than with any curmudgeonly disdain for the more populated regions of Great Britain. There’s a strong sense of pride for the people and products that hail from Islay – the Ileachs – and gratitude for anything and anyone that has found its way to their shores, for Islay is not the most bounteous of places nor is it the easiest to reach. As such, there’s a distinct lack of apathy in the air, and what a refreshing lungful that is. Read more...

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The town of Aberlour in Speyside

There is no homier place in all of Scotland than Speyside and Moray. My visits to this gorgeous, green region always seem to be sun-dappled, full of good cheer and just the right amount of liquid gold. There’s so much whisky here you’d think the wide, relaxed River Spey was made of the stuff, but it is the work of man’s modern alchemy and the primary way of life for the people who live here. This region is a mecca for whisky-lovers the world over, as the many whisky festivals attest, and it is no stranger to tourism – not by a long shot – but rarely have I felt such a right and harmonious energy. Whatever you are not – not a whisky drinker, not an outdoorsy person, not a walker – here you will become. Read more...

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