I grew up in the village of Symington, Scotland. The village had a shop, a bus stop and a football pitch. As a teenager, I left home to move to Glasgow, where I spent the next five years. I then spent time in New Zealand, Canada, Nepal, Laos, Malaysia, Borneo, Burma and Nicaragua, among other places.
I currently live in Seattle, where I am a writer & activist.
Below I will share three things about my life: why I write, why I organize and what I read.
~~~ Why I Write
I write because I believe a good book can change lives. I write because I know that good books have changed mine. I write to force myself to plunge into subjects, to feel the cold embrace of my lack of knowledge, I write, too, to learn what I think.
I write because I am flailing for immortality — because, I am not afraid to admit, I am vain.
I write, also, because I believe that I can affect the lives of others. I write to stop people from eating unsustainable seafood, to get people into the outdoors, to take to the mountains, backpacks on their shoulders, to get people to care deeply about climate change — and to embolden them with the belief that they can do something about
it, because I know they can.
I write because I reject the notion of money as deity; because I reject the notion that we should spend our lives ensnared in cubicles and office blocks, trapped in stasis and tediousness, simply to fatten our bank balances. I write because it enables me to travel, even as I sit alone in my room, because even as a fourteen-year-old infinitely more interested in football than anything else, I found myself up at 2am writing stories about places that I'd never been, about characters that existed only in my mind.
I write because I want to live fully.
Why I Organize
The truth, of course, is that as activists and organizers, sometimes so confident and bold in our assertions, we never know if our actions will make a difference. How could we? The future is always dark, impenetrable, unknown. But we do not act out of certainty. We act out of the knowledge that, despite the odds, despite the cacophonous noise all around us, our actions may, despite it all, make a difference; may ripple, like a butterfly's wings, across the ether, effecting the lives of those we will never meet, ripple, like waves on a lake, long after the grass has grown over our graves, touching those yet to be born.
That is enough.
What I Read
The Outrun, Amy Liptrot: The Outrun is a meditative journey through alcoholism and life on the Orkney Isles, some of Europe's most northern islands. We travel with Amy Liptrot as she peers into the abyss of alcoholism, stumbles over the edge, and bravely picks her way back out of the void. With a rare depth and clarity, Liptrot articulates both the insidious, ubiquitous tug of the alcohol, always there, always whispering in her ear, daring her backwards towards the void, and the natural world of the Orkney Isles — the call of the corncrake, the Merry Dancers in the skies and the Atlantic gales are a way of life. It's a beautiful book, poignant and bold.
Choice Quotes: "For those of us susceptible to addiction, alcohol quickly becomes the default way of alleviating anxiety and dealing with stressful situations. Through repeated use of the drug, our neural pathways are scored so deeply they will never be repaired. I will always be vulnerable to relapse and other kinds of addiction." p 67
"Like all the cliff colonies in Orkney, Fowl Craig is not as busy as it was during my childhood. The main reason for the decline is changes to the birds' food supply. The temperature of the North Sea has increased y around one degree centigrade in the past twenty-five years and there has been a drop in the amount of plankton, and in turn sand eels, which feed on plankton. This has meant problems for the seabirds whose primary food is sand eels: Arctic terns, kittiwakes, guillemots and shags. Without enough sand eels, the terns lose strength and have to travel further to find food. They may fail to nest, or if they do, they may be unable to find enough food for themselves and their chicks" p177