What a Difference a Year Makes!

September 29, 2010 in On Writing, Study by pacejmiller

Source: Sparknotes.com

I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately, but for once, it’s kind of a good thing.

I’ve been waking at 5:30am in the morning and have been unable to fall back asleep because my mind is wandering all over the place.  I’ve been working on a bunch of articles and I’m always trying of think of ways to develop and structure them.  But I don’t think of it as a pain or a chore at all.  It’s all actually quite enjoyable.

Anyway, it got thinking — so much has changed over the last 12 months!

Almost exactly a year ago, I was just recommencing work again at my old law firm after a stint in the UK where I had some of the best times of my life.  It was one of those ‘oh my god, I can’t believe I’m going back there’ moments, where my brain was telling me I had to give it another shot, while my heart had already left the building and was already looking for stuff to write about.

Interestingly, I was also suffering from a lack of sleep back then — not because I was excited.  No, quite the contrary — I was constantly stressed and wondering how I could get through another day without going insane (ie become one of ‘them’).  My days were long and my nights were short, and sometimes, non-existent.  I hated waking up in the morning because that meant I had to go to work, though I’d wake up early because I had too much on my mind.  And I hated going to sleep at night, because it meant I’d have to go to work as soon as I woke up, but I needed it if I was going to be able to function properly the next day.

I’m making it sound worse than it was, but at the time, it really felt rather torturous going through those emotions every day.  There’s nothing wrong with what I was doing — indeed, many people love their jobs, and let’s face it — I was one of the lucky ones to even have a job, not to mention a relatively well-paid one (funny how we used to always complain about the pay, which was a legitimate gripe if you calculated it by the hour).

Now, I’m in the reverse situation.  I’m making no money, but I’m enjoying life and ‘work’ at the moment.  Even when I eventually finish this course and get a job, I’ll probably only be making half of what I used to get (at least initially).  I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sting me a little bit, but it’s a trade I’ll gladly make every time.

Transcribing is a Ball-Buster

September 29, 2010 in On Writing, Study by pacejmiller

Source: open2.net

It’s taken me an entire week to transcribe all the interviews I’ve done in the last over the last month or so (mostly in the last couple of weeks).

There was a mixture of 4 or 5 face-to-face interviews that ranged from 30 minutes to 4 hours, plus a couple of phone interviews that didn’t go for more than 10 minutes.  I thought it would have taken 2 or 3 days at the most, especially since I recorded everything on my Pulse Smartpen, which allows you to reduce the playback speed without compromising the quality of the sound.

But no, it was so much harder than I had anticipated.  Part of it was because I felt like taking a break every 5 minutes, but honestly, transcribing is such a ball-buster.  Not only do you have to type fast and without errors, you also have to keep playing the same sentences over and over again until you can get every word perfectly.  This is important, my teachers tell me, because you never know when you might need a transcript to back up something you’ve written in an article.  It’s good to start practicing early.

And when you listen back on conversations, you realise that people hardly speak in complete sentences.  I don’t know if it’s my subjects in particular (who are all very articulate people), but even putting aside the ers and ums and mumbled words, it was often extremely difficult to piece together sentences because seem to jump all over the place and start and stop without warning.  It makes quote-gathering a rather unenviable task.

Anyway, that’s finally all out of the way.  Now I just have the write the damn articles.