This post is specifically for the SCA though it could be applicable to non-SCA awards.
I’m in the SCA Kingdom of the Middle. I have lived in the West Kingdom and the Kingdom of Northshield. I’m sure that this post will run afoul of some inter-kingdom anthropology differences but over all I think it is sound advice.
You’re working on a court scroll and in some kingdoms a charter. You have some responsibilities and priorities. You need to get it done in time. You need to get it done correctly and you should do your best job on every single assignment. But before all of that. You need to keep is SECRET.
In the Middle Kingdom Scribe’s Hanbook this is explicitly made clear in chapter six. In part it says:
One of the most important things to remember is that when you are given an assignment by one of these people you have become privy to a STATE SECRET. The identity of the recipient MUST be kept secret from any and all who have not been given permission by Their Majesties. Failure to keep this secret is cause for not trusting you in the future, and you may end up doing backlog scrolls only. (Actually, we always need help on backlog.)
This means don’t show your friends the scroll unless you first cover the name and anything else which might identify the recipient.
And it can be hard to do that. I’ve been doing court scrolls now for 8 years and in two different kingdoms. I have been randomly assigned scrolls for a friend and had to not scream out loud in joy because my wife was in the next room when I got the assignment. “Sorry honey something awesome and I can’t tell you because its scribal,” is not exactly a good husband thing to cause.
And people are going to ask. I used to get asked all the time, “Anyone I know getting an award in court today?” or this one, “Any reason I should go to court tonight?” My answer to both has always been yes. Why? Because I’m not going to tell someone to skip out on court. I’m just not. The least of the reasons being that hey, the scroll I did will likely be given out and I want people to see the recipient get it. I can easily come up with several actually good reasons for people to go to court as well, but that is a different subject.
I’ve had people try to do the 20 questions game so they can try to figure it out without me actually telling them. If I say something about the award or the recipient and you figure it out, I just told you. Confidentiality is not kept by giving away enough information that the answer can be determined even though you didn’t actually say it.
Recently I had someone ask me what kind of award I was working on. Then they asked what level of award I was working on. These are questions you CAN answer here in the Middle Kingdom, and I often don’t have a problem answering them in the right circumstances. The person wasn’t being rude in the slightest and in fact were being very respectful. And I truly appreciated that!
Notice I said in the right circumstances I will answer that question? Keep in mind that if someone is asking that question they may indeed be trying to figure out who the award is for. They may have a piece of information that may allow them to puzzle together who is getting what award when. If I get the feeling this person has that kind of knowledge, I won’t tell them what kind of award I am working or even what level award. This is a personal call. Of course there are other times I have been bidden not to discuss the award details in any manner whatsoever. Sure I can say I’m working on an award, just nothing else.
Sometimes there are scrolls/charters that come with special instructions. And sometimes those special instructions are “Don’t tell anyone.” ” Only let certain people know,” and even, “Keep this completely secret, don’t let anyone know you are doing a court scroll.” If you are getting special instructions, follow them. If you are getting special instructions about keeping it super secret in some way, you have been entrusted with something above and beyond the norm. HONOR THAT.
Most scribes are pretty awesome when it comes to their scrolls. We learn pretty quick that being sneaky and keeping things confidential are just part and parcel of the job. We get good at it. So good that we can sneak around one another and do awards/charters for other scribes. Ha! Ha!
If you love to do court scrolls but know you are one of those people who isn’t very good at keeping secrets, then by all means volunteer to work on backlog scrolls. No secrets there, you will get plenty of work and you will make people’s day if not year.
If its a secret how do I get help? There’s a blog post for that!