State of the Savage: September/October 2017

by Keith Savage · 4 comments

Deep in the Mash

Maybe it’s summer’s death rattle and autumn’s brisk arrival, but I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. The dark half of the year is upon us in the northern hemisphere and I’m stoking the flames with dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer.

There’ve been times where this has hamstrung me, but its been a boon far more often. All good things must be envisioned first, and envisioning is half of making a thing real. It’s a kind of magic to which the universe responds, and it’s worth remembering especially in dark times.

But this is not a dark time. I am still swathed in the afterglow of my week in the Orkney Islands. I have long claimed Orkney as my favorite place in Scotland, and after a five-year gap in visits I’m happy to report that remains the case. It might seem a strange declaration for it’s is not the most immediately visually arresting place in Scotland. On its surface, Orkney is a patchwork of undulating pastureland rife with cattle and sheep, pocked here and there with small farmsteads. But the sky is a wide canvas of ever-changing light and cloudform. The wind roves off the sea, slamming waves into miles of coastline punctuated by beaches and sea stacks, and sweeps over some of the most ancient monuments in the world.

Speaking of magic, it’s here in Orkney like nowhere else.

The archipelago is changing, however. Every year more and more cruise liners come to Kirkwall and spill thousands of visitors into the town’s ill-prepared streets. Incoming reductions in ferry fees will mean more camper-vans and caravans hunkering down across the Orcadian landscape. This double-edged sword of increased tourism and tourist spending has to be weighed against preserving the sanctity of place. It’s a thorny problem faced by destinations around the world, the gift and curse of tourism, of which, I’m not oblivious, I am a part.

Up above that’s wind-blown me kneeling inside the entry of a many thousands-year-old broch on the cliffs of Orkney’s west mainland.

Speaking of things I don’t understand, I’m in the midst of determining how I intend to sell my book. From the start I envisioned starting with the traditional route: Writing query letters, pitching agents, hopefully getting a contract, being on bookstore shelves, etc. A great site called Author Earnings shines light on the earning disparities between traditional publication and self or indie publication. The data is clear that self-published authors are making more money than traditionally published authors, and in that light my original plan feels like a vanity project. I would like people to read my books and for me to make a living writing books, so as it stands I’m beginning to lean toward self-publication.

One of the elephants in the room is my need for a website redesign. The site as you see it is what I managed to cobble together with my meager HTML/CSS skills seven years ago, and it needs a fairly large facelift. I’ve been slowly looking for the right person or agency to tackle this project, and now I’m officially declaring I am looking to pay someone to redesign and modernize Traveling Savage. If you have good recommendations please let me know in the comments. I’m also in the concept stage of putting together e-books for sale here, and a marketplace will need to be part of the redesign. I have so much evergreen information in old, difficult-to-find blog posts, and I want to flesh that out and make it easily available to visitors.

Finally, I’m currently planning a trip to Scotland for next spring to include Glasgow, Dundee, Angus, Aberdeenshire, and possibly Speyside. It’s coming together slowly, but I might have another trip even sooner — in the next few months. The nature and purpose of that trip is a secret, one of those irons nestled among the dream-coals and burning orange.

Until next time,


Alison KozarNo Gravatar October 5, 2017 at 6:46 AM

As always, love reading your blog. Tourism, as you say, is a double edged sword. I hope the influx of visitors have a positive affect on the economy without ruining the intrinsic beauty and remoteness of the Orkney’s.
As for web re-design, I sent your info over to my nephew who is a freelance graphic/web design in case he’s interested, and maybe you both could benefit 🙂
BTW…I think you may be overdue for a full write up on the foods of Scotland. So many people think Scotland is only Haggis, black pudding and porridge, when in fact there is so much more! The Scot’s take pride in their locally grown and raised produce, and when we were there in August we had some of the best food; fresh fish and shellfish prepared a myriad of ways, smoked salmon, game pie, and my new favorite, Cullen Skink, which blows all other soups out of the water IMO!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 5, 2017 at 7:59 AM

Thanks for sharing my call for action, Alison! Good idea about a food post — I’ll add it to my list. Thanks for reading.

Teresa CallahanNo Gravatar October 4, 2017 at 2:05 PM

I am so glad to hear you are planning to revamp your website. Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love the site because it is so chock-full of incredibly useful information. My only complaint is that I often have to scour the site to find the information I need to plan my trip. I’ve often wished the site had a helpful index like a book to help me find exactly the info I’m looking for. But don’t change too much. Your site was by far the most helpful source I came across when planning our trip to Scotland. Congratulations on being ranked 12th in the best Scottish blogs survey.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 4, 2017 at 2:33 PM

Thanks, Teresa. Yes, a revamp is long overdue, and making information more easily accessible is one my priorities.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: