State of the Savage: January 2016

by Keith Savage · 16 comments

Weapons of Scottish Wars

Last month marked six years of Traveling Savage. Six years! I wrote my first post here on December 13, 2009, almost a year from the date I intended to leave my corporate job. It was a cringe-worthy, rambling manifesto that began a year of philosophical writings on travel intended more to keep me motivated than to satisfy my readers — I had no readers! I wrote in the evenings after work as a test to see if I could stick with a blog, and if I couldn’t then perhaps I didn’t believe enough in the idea. But I did stick with it, and as my departure date approached my pragmatic and soul-blasted selves tangled in an exhausting cage match of fear, anxiety, hope, and excitement. I was leaping into…into what?

Hope is not a plan. Some nun said that in the context of my previous job, and it has stuck with me for many years, because, I think, hope is generally my plan. Now that’s not entirely true, but a certain amount of wishing things into being simply through force of will has defined my life. I like to think of it as faith in myself, faith that I will find a way to make something work. While I can’t condone leaping from one idea to the next bereft of sensible plans, some people just need to be dumped in the boiling water — they’ll find a way out — rather than think forever about the hypothetical. I’m one of those people.

So I quit my job, traveled, and wrote. A lot has changed in the ensuing six years. I refocused the site on Scotland five years ago. I began offering trip-planning consultations 18 months ago. Well, maybe not that much has changed, but perhaps steadiness is my strength. You know what you’re getting here: A site focused on Scotland (with the occasional blather). There are over 550 articles in the archives. I’ve spent so much time on Traveling Savage I can’t imagine what it would be like not to write here.

Time. Every new year comes quietly in the darkness. January can be difficult. In Wisconsin it’s dark and frigid, the land is peopled by the SAD-afflicted, and my mind wanders to despondent places. For the last four years I’ve spent most of my time working on a novel. There’s no advance, no promise of payment. It would not be totally off base to call it a hobby. But I believe in it. Sarah just finished reading my second draft after having read nothing since I started. How’s that for faith? She believes in it, too.

Yet I worry. Six years. Look how fast that has passed. What have I accomplished? How long can this continue? When will all this passion reach critical mass? These are dark roads none should walk alone, and it’s often in these moments of despair that Burns Supper arrives, and with it a reminder: Fondness. Wonder. Gratitude. The manifesto from my very first post. Looking back, I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of someone like Sarah, who has fostered my creativity, and to be surrounded by friends with similar values, among them jewelry-makers and musicians, brewers and bike-makers, fashion-truck owners and authors. Passion pulls. All have recognized that the future is not promised and all good things take time.

My faith is restored among the haggis, neeps, and tatties, corks flung in the fire, and friends dancing across the swords. I am wearing a kilt for the first time, and my clan’s words ring in my ears: Virescit Vulnere Virtus. Courage grows strong at the wound. We must resolve ourselves to great things as the dark half gives way to the light half.

And so: This year I am exploring parts of Scotland that have long escaped my reach. This year I am sending my novel into the world.

The future must be forged.

RaijaNo Gravatar February 22, 2016 at 2:52 AM

I am very glad to have found your site, and I know I will need your help one day down the track to plan a trip to Scotland, my two little boys have already started to wonder at the sound of the place! Til then!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 22, 2016 at 7:47 AM

Hi Raija, looking forward to helping you!

Jeanette HillisNo Gravatar February 2, 2016 at 11:57 AM

Hello Keith discovered your blog while researching Scotland for a long awaited trip . have enjoyed it very much . will be using your travel planning service soon . We are 76 and 75 (will be year older in 2017 when plan our trip . we are hoping to do three to 4 weeks but have a budget limit . we are interested in nature history and people . we do not require luxury anything , will want to rent a small car we think we love to hike We will visit the outer Hebrides as that is where my ancestors came from and also the highlands Before we start actually planning could you give us a rough idea of how much we will need to spend per day so we have an idea how long we can stay thanks so much looking forward to your Novel Jeanette

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 2, 2016 at 3:55 PM

Hi Jeanette,

Glad to have you here. I’ll be happy to help you plan your trip. Determining how much you spend per day is difficult because everyone has different proclivities, but I aim to spend no more than $50/day/person (not including accommodation).

Jeanette HillisNo Gravatar February 2, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Keith as to the $50 a day you plan to spend –does that include food and transportation we hope to stay at B&B ‘s mainly to meet local people and because perhaps less expensive than hotels does $100 per day per person sound reasonable If $150 per person per day is reasonable will be able to do our full 3 weeks Jeanette

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 2, 2016 at 8:39 PM

The $50/day includes food, drinks, entry fees, odds & ends, and local transportation (not rental cars or gas). You can find many B&Bs under $100/night/person.

Jeanette HillisNo Gravatar February 22, 2016 at 8:48 AM

Keith you mentioned that you would be exploring places you have not visited in Scotland this year . Will the outer Hebrides be included in this . (our main reason for traveling to Scotland ) Jeanette

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 22, 2016 at 9:16 AM

Regarding the Outer Hebrides: Unfortunately not. During my initial planning I tried to fit them, as I’ll be going to NW Scotland, but with only two weeks on this upcoming trip it just would not make logistical sense. They are still high on my list and I will get to them soon.

CHIPNo Gravatar January 28, 2016 at 9:39 AM


Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 28, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Thanks Chip.

AndyNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 7:42 PM

I’ve enjoyed reading your take on Scotland for the past couple of years Keith. Good luck with the novel!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 8:44 PM

Thanks, Andy. Appreciate the support!

MikeNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 12:18 PM

One thing has changed in those six years, and changed dramatically in my opinion: you’re a far, far better writer than when you started, and you weren’t exactly slouching at the beginning. Speaking as someone who loves watching people learning to write with their own voices, your journey is a pleasure to follow, sir.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 3:26 PM

You, sir, are far too kind. Clearly since we met in Glasgow you’ve taken to the whisky. 🙂

Luke BuchananNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 12:14 PM

Keep up the great work! You were immensely helpful to me. You lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, and relieved the stress I had for planning my trip to Scotland. I know with certainty that I would not have enjoyed my trip as much as I did without your trip planning service. I am already planning a return trip in Spring 2017, and it is so much easier this time thanks to your advice and wealth of information available on your site. I wish you nothing but the best, and look forward to reading your novel.



Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 27, 2016 at 2:45 PM

I see Scotland has beguiled you as well, Luke. It was my pleasure to help you plan your *first* trip to Scotland. Thanks for all the kind words.

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