While speaking to the women featured in my documentary, The Herring Quines, I was struck by the sense of history, legacy, and tradition they conveyed. In fact, these themes seemed to emerge in every discussion I had, both on and off-camera. They emerge again in this chat with my wonderful friend Lucy about how these women made ends meet, the role of mental health, and the wonderful world of fisher fashion.
It’s spring, and graduation looms for many – myself included. To celebrate this/ help process this reality, I gathered wisdom from 17 writers’ commencement speeches to see what they had to say about life after university. Of everything I read, this from Toni Morrison resonated most:
“I know that happiness has been the real, if covert, target of your labors here, your choices of companions, of the profession that you will enter. You deserve it and I want you to gain it, everybody should. But if that’s all you have on your mind, then you do have my sympathy, and if these are indeed the best years of your life, you do have my condolences because there is nothing, believe me, more satisfying, more gratifying than true adulthood. The adulthood that is the span of life before you. The process of becoming one is not inevitable. Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.”
Despite all the changes on the horizon, it’s a process I look forward to.
Photo: Lincoln Memorial University
Today will be known to many as Easter Monday. But the date, April 6th, is home to another celebration: Tartan Day, which marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It’s commemorated in Arbroath here in Scotland with loads of themed events, and has also sparked a huge parade in New York City that brings together Scots Americans in celebration of their heritage.
I’m immensely proud of my own Scottish identity, but like I say in this piece, there is no one standard experience of a country, or one way to live a nationality. Even a small country like Scotland has space for more than 5 million different life stories to play out in the hills, by the sea, in the country and the city. These 11 Scottish books exemplify that.
Heading into my final semester of university, I wasn’t really sure what to expect except ‘a lot of work’. Two weeks later, I’m actually starting to realise what this means. It is by no means a struggle (and once it’s all over I’ll wonder what I was complaining about), but I am working on a project that means I need to be more organised and hardworking than ever.
To get through the next couple of months, a steady stream of motivation is going to be key. So I’ve shared some literary quotes that are in my own mental scrapbook of helpful phrases – because when the going gets tough, the tough get their motivational quotes out.
Photo: Duke University Archives
Back in February, I took part in ‘Live Below the Line’, a campaign which aimed to raise awareness of the hunger which persists around the world. For five days, I had £1 per day to feed myself. I wrote about my experiences for The Stand, and the piece was picked up by The Guardian’s ‘Ones to Watch’ blog, which is really rather exciting!
Read the piece here: