I was astounded that I’d been suggested as a voice for Scotland at all, to be honest. Born in Oxfordshire to English and American parents, I’ve only lived here for eight years – was I really qualified?
And then I realised it wasn’t too much to get worked up about. Scotland has many, many different voices, and I certainly count as one of them. I may not be in the most busy part of the bell curve that makes up the spectrum of Scotland but, hey, I AM in there somewhere! Besides, I absolutely love this place – I elected to go for it, and accepted the offer.
And was instantly struck with uncertainty. What on earth did I actually have to say? I’m an architectural designer and photographer by training and trade – words are probably not my strong point when it comes to communication. And my goodness would you look at all the possible directions this could go in… Things were going to get messy and confusing unless I exercised some kind of self control. So, I spent my first evening as Scotland mostly looking through the account. What had been said before? Who was I already following, and who was following me? Were people hoping to be informed? Entertained? Shocked?
By Monday morning it was becoming clear that I was probably over-thinking things, and had barely actually tweeted anything – Time to be straightforward, get on with it, and see how it all goes. So I talked about myself and my place in Scotland. It seemed a good place to start, and I was pleased to find that by just attempting to tweet on the subject I actually thought about it more than I probably ever had. And what’s more – people seemed actually interested in my navel-gazing. From curators of other nations’ accounts to fellow Scots, people chatted with me. It was really pleasing, and this friendly interaction continued as the week progressed. We talked about films, urban design, food, the ever-present weather, and many other things… Even my midnight cat photos seemed to go down reasonably well!
I intentionally left the issue of Scottish Independence until the weekend. Mostly I wanted to be able to focus my attention on it without being distracted by work, but there was also a degree to which I wanted to feel comfortable discussing it in an environment I’d settled into. Finally, I wanted to make sure that my week was not spent discussing Independence. It may well be the biggest issue Scotland faces right now, but we’ve been here a long time before the 2014 vote, and whichever way it goes, Scotland will still be here afterwards. For the benefit of our international followers, I thought it was worth talking about other things for at least SOME time before we got into Scotland’s Referendum. By the time we did, though, it was of course the subject which generated by far the most feedback – particularly from people within Scotland – and I’m glad I’d settled in to the @scotvoices account before embarking on such a hectic ride. I learned a lot and, again, feel that actually devoting time to consider the issues was extremely helpful in clarifying some of my own thoughts.
And that’s probably my main summary of how I left my week as the voice of Scotland: the simple act of actually thinking about my place in this country, and this country’s place in the world, has – surprise surprise – been a fascinating and fruitful exercise. I’m much more likely to tweet, or even write more extensively, about subjects that were discussed during my week as a nation, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. Even if you don’t get to curate the @scotvoices account, I encourage you all to give it a proper go too.
Designer and Photographer