State of the Savage: September 2014

by Keith Savage · 4 comments


Keith on Driftbourne

Just last week, one of the most important moments in Scottish history, the independence referendum, came and went. I followed along from my home in Wisconsin by streaming BBC coverage and denting a couple bottles of whisky with friends. As the night wore on and the results came back for each voting area, it became clear that the Scottish people had voted against independence. My friends and I turned down the volume, focused on the Scotch, made plans for future weekends, had a pipe – that sort of thing.

It didn’t really hit me until later.

Stirlingshire came back against independence, and the BBC’s weird, angular map of Scotland was all red save for a few, tiny blips of blue: Glasgow, Dundee, West Dunbartonshire. These were the only areas that the majority voted for independence, but throughout the country roughly 45% of Scottish voters cast their ballots for Yes. Through the lens of politics, that may be a healthy win for the No camp, but that’s not a small number any other way you look at it. The No folks made a lot of promises leading up to the vote and I suppose we’ll wait and see how those are kept. If I was a Yes voter I don’t know where I’d go from here.

I’ve kept Traveling Savage free of political leanings and I will not start going against grain now, but here are my two cents on the independence referendum. I don’t fully understand the political or economic implications of an independent Scotland. I’m sure there would have been difficult times ahead if they had voted Yes – setting up a new nation by pulling out of an old one cannot be easy. But the chance to gain independence peacefully is not a gift horse I would look in the mouth. For me, the notion of Scottish identity is so intrinsically linked to the quest for freedom that the result of the independence referendum was a blast of cognitive dissonance. I did little on Friday but despair and wonder how much “Scottishness” had been lost in these centuries after union. Not all, I know, for while this chapter might be over the book has not been closed on independence.

Trip-Planning Consultations

A couple months back I introduced a new service, Scotland trip-planning consultations, and the response has been greater than I could have imagined. August was loaded with research and lively Skype calls in which I’ve gotten to meet regular readers of Traveling Savage — and those who found the site the day they submitted the questionnaire! — and share my expertise. I’ve helped college students, baby boomers, gen xers, millennials, solo travelers, and families from Australia to Canada to the USA. Personally, the experience has been richly rewarding and made me feel this service was absolutely the right thing to roll out. Sounds like my customers have found it helpful, too.

If you’d like help planning your next trip to Scotland, fill out this questionnaire and let’s get started!

Future Trips

Earlier this year I spent three weeks in the south of Scotland. I’m sure you’ve noticed – it’s what I’ve been writing about for months with many articles yet to come. Well, of course, I’m planning another trip. In fact, I’ve got two trips in mind, but the one I’m planning for next spring will entail in-depth explorations of Angus, Dundee, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, and Lochaber and parts of the middle-west highlands up to Knoydart. I’ve been through most of these areas in previous trips but not to my satisfaction and with little coverage on Traveling Savage. I’m very excited about the prospect of this trip! Let me know if you have any suggestions, recommendations, or questions regarding these areas.

That second trip? The northwest highlands and Outer Hebrides. 🙂

Book Update

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a novel since early 2012 when I’m not working on Traveling Savage. I completed my initial draft, which was over 200,000 words (700+ pages), in spring 2013. After a month in Europe, I returned to working on the book revising the chapters I’d written. It took about six months for me realize the story wasn’t working. Early this year I stripped the plot to the bone and replotted the entire story, keeping the world and concept the same, just remaking the actual story. In essence, I spent these months teaching myself the craft of storytelling, something few schools bother teaching (I suppose they assume we all implicitly know how to tell a compelling story). This was major surgery and took me into August before I had outlined all 53 chapters, and I now have a much more solid story structure.

In the last month I’ve started writing the next draft, and I’ve finished three chapters so far. Only 50 more to go!

Until next time, sláinte!


NeilNo Gravatar October 7, 2014 at 6:38 AM

Hi Keith, just discovered your blogs and they’re excellently done! On this one I share your pain. Believe me, Glasgow was a (predominantly) gutted place that night. Everyone was up all night hoping for the party to end all others but it was not to be. We keep going though, hopefully it will happen one day. I do something similar to your travel planning for Scotland, let me know if you ever need anything from this side of the pond. Give me a shout when you’re over next year for a dram as well, sounds like a great trip!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 7, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Hard to hear that about Glasgow. Still can’t really believe the outcome. Cheers for the offers!

De'JavNo Gravatar September 29, 2014 at 12:58 AM

I’m not one to follow politics but Scotland was definitely one to check out. Agree with you definitely think it would have been difficult for them to separate due to economic replications. Good progress on the book. Look forward to seeing more future posts.

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