I’ve been trying to figure out how I do this, whether I start a blog or how I write a book or just how I make some notes to go with my ongoing project, I’ve only been here half my life.
Over the last week, books have been arriving in the post. I ordered a bunch of books on the history of Hawick, the town in the Scottish Borders, which, if you’ve heard of, it’s probably because either a) you live here in the borders, or b) you’ve seen the recent national media about the town’s traditions or maybe the numerous rugby players the town produces.
It’s difficult to explain to someone who’s never been here what this town is like, and it’s incredibly easy – too easy – to share a look and a laugh about most aspects of the town with someone from around here that’s not a Hawick native.
It’s also tricky to stick your neck out in a place like this. I conversed with a friend about whether I should use a pseudonym while writing about Hawick, because, as I begin writing as a woman who wasn’t even born in Scotland, I’m automatically doing something that could be seen as controversial and offensive, especially to some of the people of Hawick. My friend was concerned for my safety, and I started to wonder also if I should be concerned for my professional reputation, too. I know of people whose livelihoods have been and are being destroyed by small-town vitriolic gossip in the Borders, and of course, don’t really want to join that list.
I considered making an identical publication or blog that identifies me as someone male and Scottish sounding, just to see the difference, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be a lie, and I think I’d rather be an open and honest idiot. I may be afraid, but I’m also brave, and believe that my perspective is important.
I don’t think I can let fear stop me, and, because my video work is so connected to what I’m planning to write about, I need to keep it attached to my name as an artist. I’ll have to remind myself, that when small towns insist they are in their own unique bubble, they are not, and whatever I choose to write about in the borders is in the same bubble of atmosphere that the whole bloody earth is in.
Does anyone have permission to write about anywhere, anyway? I mean, I’ve only been here half my life. More on that at a later date.