The first month of school has nearly come to a close. Today was another long day in which we discussed, listened, handed in assignments and split into groups. To be honest, when I started, the idea of splitting into a group with people I didn’t even know was extremely overwhelming. Like all things that I build up in my head, however, it ended up being totally fine. In fact, familiarizing myself with my fellow students has proved to not nearly be as scary as I made it out to be. Again.
On top of the discussions and the lectures and all of the things that made up today, there was a new experience all mixed in. Actually, if I am completely honest there were a few new experiences. The first one was that we received a paper back.
Granted, the paper was not really a paper, but rather a small assignment which will be used as 5% of my final grade… Even still, it was really exciting to get something back from a teacher. Not only did I get the assignment in and finish it on time, but it came back with a perfect score.
Who cares that it’s tiny and only out of 5 marks? Certainly not me!
Getting that assignment back was a matter of facing a fear that I had built up. So high, in fact, that I was actually having nightmares about what my first mark would be. It’s not like I lost sleep over it- I really didn’t- but I did wonder if I had done it right. After all, it’s been so long since I was in school. Even longer since I made an effort to hand something in… It was a variable. Unpredictable.
I did what I set out to do. I started this, and I intend to show up and do my best. The first assignment reflected my hard work. The mark indicates the effort and I’m really proud.
To a lot of people, that 5/5 is nothing. To me? That 5/5 is all of it. It signifies everything.
That assignment was about understanding what it means to write in plain language, whereas this afternoon was all about conducting interviews and using words and tones to pad your intention to dig deep. Each class has been really interesting and useful to me so far- stark differences at times, which is good because it’s bending my brain in two ways. I’m polishing skills that I didn’t even know I had, while defeating the defeatist inside myself.
We were paired off with a person within our class- of course, for me that nearly guaranteed being placed with someone I had never met. This partner was to be interviewed for no more than 50 minutes in order to create a riveting story that would interest readers and answer questions. It was intimidating, as it tends to be in the beginning. What I found during the interview process was that interviewing isn’t as easy as it looks.
As an interviewer, you’re meant to spend time researching your subject so that you know which questions to ask. The right questions will serve to loosen the information that you need as a writer. You’re looking for interesting, relevant, candid, human and poignant content. You’re looking to present an original vision of a person that the world may or may not already know.
In these situations there was no homework or research to be done. We were flying blind- set out to find the most influential person in our partner’s life.
Through this practical process I learned that t’s hard for me not to commiserate in conversation. I like to talk, and I need to listen. I was reminded that everyone has a compelling story- most people, when asked a question like this one, will have an amazing response to give. Very rarely will you have to seek the story that you’re looking for because human interest is very interesting.
I get to spend the next week perfecting the product of the time I spent with my subject, and expressing her inspiration as I heard it to my audience. While many of the challenges I face today inspire fear in me, this is one challenge I look forward to completing.