SO we just had our GERSday – the date when the report on the yawning deficits in the Scottish national budget (known as GERS) is delivered. Debt, doom, disaster. However, I would say the indy movement was much more ready for it than usual.

There has been good rebuttal, indeed pre-buttal – which Business For Scotland did last week with early questions over the UK’s poor recent collection of North Sea oil revenues, compared with Norway.

For a Yes movement essentially on “pause” at the moment, it was a decent show. But GERS is only the peak point of a huge iceberg. We should also be thinking deeply about the emotional and cultural dimensions of how we feel about economics and independence.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: GERS figures just prove Scotland’s interests are poorly served by the Union

To begin with, we’re engaging in a methodological struggle over GERS which is beginning to pay dividends. The core weapon is the tax expert Richard Murphy’s assessment that it’s based on a deeply insufficient set of data inputs. Also, as Common Weal’s Robin McAlpine and Craig Dalzell have analyzed, GERS is an account of the Scottish economy as it is embedded in the current British economy – but it does not remotely account for the actual economics of independence.

The very establishing of indy could (on Common Weal’s estimate) knock several billions off the deficit total – as a consequence of a more rigorous tax collection system, a smaller defence budget, the input of setting up admin for new Scottish public institutions, and the outcome of our negotiations around debts and assets.

This is even before we start to tailor our policies towards development and growth – prioritising our promising sectors (renewable energy at the forefront), and presuming some kind of market continuity with the EU (either as member state, or in a Norway-like position). This would also start to address deficits by growing our tax base and overall revenue.

Yet there needs to be poetry laced through this kind of economic prose. In this era of political attitudes driven by strong emotions, we have to risk a few metaphors, imagery and narratives.

What’s vital for the indy case is that there is a story of the future under independence which promises steady, constructive progress, based on our collective labours and commitments. How do we turn to each other in Scotland, and agree to build the house we want to live in?

Indeed, to play around with that a little, a nation of house builders (more than just house buyers, or even house improvers) may be the kind of characterisation we need. House building implies patience with so many details – identifying the land, and the foundations you sink into it; the specifics of design, construction, quality of materials; the demands of finances, but also the demands of applying your own skills and effort to the task. Yet if done well, what results at the end? A new structure, with all your sweat and effort in it; something dreamed of and desired, and then realised.

What would you undergo, or endure, to have that feeling at the end of it all – of possessing your own solid ground, your own beautiful construction?

Could that metaphor scale up to an appeal for patience, in the early years of indy? Many might object to the basic trope. We are hardly building from scratch, they would say – when we have a Holyrood Parliament, centuries of administrative devolution, a consistency with EU law and protocols.

Yet that was the appeal in 2014. Whether it was the sterling zone or access to the BBC, or easy assumptions about Europe or international finance or Nato, what was offered was an instant, near-stress-free upgrade for Scotland. A set period in affordable external accommodation, and then a move back into the old place, with sparkling new windows.

But now, in 2017, the foundations of this area are starting to subside and crumble, as the moving plates of Brexit pull things apart. Ask yourself: where is the best, most reliable place to live, on ground that at least you know and understand?

And if there is a chance to build, why not take the opportunity to make things look and function a lot better than before? Wouldn’t this be worth the expense, the tightened belts, the effort?

Well, there’s my wee story/metaphor: attempt your own. But my point is that a majority of Scots need to feel a level of deep, emotionally grounded confidence in their basic capabilities, before they can cope with a second indy proposition.

One that implies labour and construction, rather than an instant hit of economic prosperity.

There are obviously a variety of places to go for that deep confidence, in the face of the economic and social demands of setting up an independent state. Some of which, I suggest, are places we don’t want to go.

For example, we explicitly reject that edge of the Brexit vote which linked national pride, and anti-immigration, in the notion of “taking back control”. For many millions of Leavers, the prospects of economic disruption were bearable, if Brexit returned (in Gordon Brown’s immortal phrase) “British jobs to British workers”.

That is indeed one nasty weapon in the vast “nationalist” toolbox – one which Nicola Sturgeon understandably recoiled from at the Edinburgh International Book Festival the other week.

We should never underestimate the double achievement of modern Scottish nationalism. A civic national identity based on residence and commitment, not ethnic purity. And a vision of national culture that aims to share, contrast and mingle its traditions with the whole wide world, not defend them against the new and the diverse.

Yet it means we are consciously disconnected from the sulphurous energy that bubbles under those regimes currently branded as “nationalist” by the world’s pundits. Even the softer backstops of a more traditional nationalism can’t be happily invoked for Scots indy.

For example, Catalonia is able to mobilise its movements by a number of means – namely, a national language that’s in daily and universal use; and a Spanish state whose behaviour still bears traces of its dictatorial, region-suppressing past.

Other than skirmishes around Scots language, we have more of an enthusiasm deficit around Gaelic than any discrimination issues. And it’s hard to portray British institutions as our oppressors, when more accurately they have subtly accommodated and integrated Scotland for three centuries.

So in brief, indy-minded Scots can’t anchor themselves to national purism, loaded down with righteous anger against an enemy, in order to thole the economic squalls (and maybe even storms) of the early years of independence. We literally only have each other, the resources to hand, the skills and smarts we possess, and whatever imagination we can kindle and flame.

What is even attractive about this? Why wouldn’t people just recoil from the challenge, privately surviving as best they can in a Brexit state of incremental decline (waiting for Corbyn, perhaps)? Maybe even retreat from citizenship itself?

If 2014 has bequeathed us an independence-minded minority culture, then this is their – our – greatest immediate challenge. We must invite, orchestrate and celebrate as many local, bottom-up acts of defiance, assembly, social enterprise, festivity and autonomy – that is, acts of small-i independence – as possible.

The purpose of these wouldn’t be propaganda – meetings where the agreed line on indy economics is drilled down into waiting activists – but experience.

How does the joy of locally coming together (setting a goal, finding a common purpose, making things happen) become a way of building confidence for the greater economic challenges of statehood?

This is something that we’ve been thinking about in the Scottish Independence Convention, of which I am an acting (though to tell the truth, mostly perplexed) co-convenor. How such a “daily and local independence” relates to parties, and movement structures, is of course all to be talked through, noisily and publicly.

The playwright Peter Arnott tweeted this week that “if Indy happens, like devolution, it will because it is obvious to the point of inevitability… As in 1997, a referendum as a formality, a foregone conclusion”.

We can’t anticipate that moment. But we can help it ripen.