The Pink Arch in The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland

A thing cannot be created from nothing. The mind must be fed, must digest, and through this alchemy something new manifests in the medium: a painting, a composition, a sculpture…a story. So I have been busy adding ingredients, making a brain stew of period films like Centurion and The Eagle, listening to The Sword, reading related historical fantasy like Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Last Light of the Sun, and checking out armloads of research material from the library.

Anything to keep the flames burning.

Of course, I’m talking about the book. My book. I haven’t found a name for it yet, but perhaps I’m avoiding that in case it dies young. The idea has been gestating for nearly a year – to some, a dangerously long time to suspend in the mind, formless. It IS taking shape, though. I recently passed 52,000 words and hit 160 pages at my 25% completion mark.

I’m not sleeping well.

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The Traveling Savage After Surmounting Craigower Hill in Pitlochry

And just like that, I’m back.

I’ve been home in Wisconsin for just over a week now, and the three weeks before my return – those I spent rambling in Scotland – are a pulsing bunch of glittering images and glowing memories. How fast the past recedes from the present.

I’ve now had the opportunity to go on several, long solo trips as well as trips with Sarah and my dad since the inception of Traveling Savage. Along the way I scribble in a Moleskine, write on a private poetry site, and punch insights into my iPhone.

I also write here, of course.

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A Peedie Nation

by Keith Savage · 15 comments

Orkney Serpent on the Window at Helgi's

A word haunted every map, sign, and food cart I saw on Orkney. Peedie. What the hell? There was the Peedie Chippie (which made excellent fish and chips, incidentally), the Peedie Sea, Peedie anthems, and so on.

“Peedie” isn’t English. I’m pretty sure it’s not Norse. It doesn’t sound much like Scots. Finally I asked an innocent woman working behind the counter at a gift shop across from St. Magnus Cathedral: “What does Peedie mean?”

She seemed a bit embarrassed answering the question, like it wasn’t meant for the ears of visitors or that she was English. “It means small, or little,” she said as I paid for the peedie pack of Orkney fudge I’d chosen for Sarah. Read more...

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The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland

I had a “deep thought” today as my dad and I drove out of Edradour distillery on our way to the 1,200-year old Pictish Aberlemno Stone in Angus. You see, I’ve been digging at my obsession with Scotland and trying to understand the basis of its origin. I was a psychology major after all. But why no love for the good old USA? Surely the States’ natural beauty measures up to Scotland. Home sweet home has plenty of attractions like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail…um, Wall Drug, and…the Corn Palace? I kid, but seriously, what’s the deal?

Enter the “deep thought.” America is like blended whisky and Scotland is like single malt whisky. That could be the Edradour talking but stick with me. Read more...

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30,000 Feet Over Scotland

Today I return to Scotland. It’s been seven long months since I returned home from my last trip, and yet those months have, paradoxically, gone by quite quickly. Still, now I’m in the air: Milwaukee-Newark-Edinburgh.

I’m excited.

I have three weeks to crawl up the navel of Scotland, from Edinburgh to Perthshire to Speyside to Easter Ross to Orkney, and I’m with my dad who just so happens to be a fellow Scotophile (Caledonophile?). The stops on this trip are some of my favorites in all of Scotland and I’m going at the best time of year (regarding light, weather, and tourists). There will be rain. There’s always rain. But I’m ready to see Scotland again. Read more...

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