It’s not a positive way to begin an introduction of myself, but I have some confessions to make. 1) I haven’t lived in St Andrews for over a year and 2) I’ve never written for The Tribe. At first glance, this might not make me the best person to take over the role of your Deputy Editor – but I’m here to explain the ways in which I promise not to balls it up. Really.
After a year working abroad spent attempting to teach some German children why “necessary” should be spelt with such unnecessary consonants, I’ll be returning to Scotland in September to enter Honours and maybe even write an essay or two. After spending most of high school planning on becoming a high-flying lawyer, two years at an international boarding school in Canada convinced that I was going to save the world through slam poetry and Birkenstocks, and a couple of years at uni floundering between various degrees – I can now confidently say that I am studying English and German. I’m a little surprised myself, but it ultimately does make sense for me to combine the only two things I really like doing: talking to people and reading stuff. Recently I’m trying to take these skills a little further by starting to write and edit.
I’ve written sort of non-stop since I was old enough to hold a pen – there are still piles of “manuscripts” lurking under my childhood bed, scribbled in red biro and with characters with names like Lord Tharg and plot devices that would have JK Rowling’s lawyers rubbing their hands with glee. At some point, as a teenager, I started writing non-fiction too, mainly poems about my many complex feelings or vaguely liberal political rants without context. While at St Andrews, I’ve written for The Foreign Affairs Review and The Interpreter as well as attempting to continue my unsuccessful career as a child novelist by writing plays. (This would be an unprofessional time to plug a show – but I am not a professional. Commons went up at the Edinburgh Fringe this August and my latest email from Fringe diagnostics confidently assured me that we have sold “ ticket[s]”, so book tickets now to avoid disappointment.)
As I said, I’ve never written for The Tribe. I didn’t even know very much about it when I applied for this role. In an effort to catch up and appear informed, I’ve been trawling the website – and I have discovered two things. First of all, I have actually been exposed to Tribe articles a lot more than I had thought, which makes me think that everyone at St Andrews (small as it is) is in the same boat. From event reviews and cultural items to opinion pieces and travel articles, it’s been popping up on my newsfeed a lot over the past three years. I also seem to know a lot of people who have written for it and I’ve even been on the receiving end of theatre reviews myself. (Mostly positive, thank you.) Young as it is, such is the ubiquity of this magazine that if you are involved in student life at St Andrews, you will indubitably have come into contact with The Tribe at one time or another. And the second thing I realised is that it’s bloody good.
In my experience, student publications can usually go in two directions. They either attempt to replicate a properly funded newspaper or news outlet, which can come across as pretentious or second-rate – or they accept the limitations (both financial and intellectual) that student publishing offers, which risks making the product cheap and tawdry. The Tribe strikes a fine balance between these two extremes: managing to achieve a whole variety of things while also accepting that, unlike a “real” magazine, the writers and editors are doing so in their free time while also juggling degrees and other commitments. Individuality and personal bias are therefore allowed to shine through in a way that I can’t imagine in another magazine – and makes the publication all that much more relatable and beautiful.
So what is my part in this going to be in the coming year? As Deputy Editor I will be responsible mainly for doing what Alexandra tells me to do (and with pleasure – check out her stuff on the website, she’s darn good at this) and also attempting to manage the various parts of the publication and offer support to the various editors in their fields. As such, my job will mainly be talking to people and reading stuff, with a bit of light writing thrown in. This may make this my most ideal job.
I can’t wait for the year to come, and I hope you are all raring to go too. Wir schaffen das zusammen!