Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Despicable Me

after transcribing 58 interviews, this is how silly i am in my interviews:

1. i forgot to mention the date of my interviews, a basic rule. good i have Shadowman's SMB desk calendar where my daily activities from March 1 to June 30 were recorded

2. i make this awful nasal sound: uhm, uhm, when faced with information that i take-for-granted

3. i cut off my respondent's statements when faced with information i find interesting

4. i poorly follow-up, suggesting that there are times, i don't quite 'get' the story or information being shared. like in one interview, i forgot to ask the basis for the land price in one community as i got too hooked on the condonation granted to the community but still unpaid till now

5. i am apathetic. in my 36-minute interview with a family with an abnormal son, never did i ask what happened to their son to have such a mental abnormality. as it appears from their story, the son contracted the illness when he was growing up

6.i forgot the importance of getting relative information. for example, i ask how much rent for land or for housing each household paid before joining the government's land tenure program. but i did not ask how much this rent compares to their incomes then (like what %); the same goes with their amortization.

7. i still stammer when constructing my sentences and i beat around the bush.  this especially happens when i am unsure of how i'll ask the question and partly because i have a way of talking that sounds like a passive sentence when written. for example, the question in my interview guide reads in bicol, 'igwa kamong security of tenure' (do you have security of tenure?). of course, because it is just a guide, i could not ask that question straight away. this is where i get silly as i ask 'igwa po kamong kaseguruhan sa daga, ito po bagang pagmati na dai na kamo pahahalion' (do you have security of tenure, you know, the feeling that you will not be removed). the error here is, i just translated the question to bicol but i have not really said in a way that could be understood by ordinary people. another is, tenure security is more than just a feeling. it is also a condition set out by governments. governments lay out the terms and conditions by which tenure security could be achieved. in my first 10 interviews, i stammer everytime i ask this question or i go around it like, 'saindo pong pagmati, paghuna nindo, mahahaloy pa kamo sa daga nindo na dai kamo pahahalion?' (do you feel, do you think, you will still stay longer here to the point will not be removed). somehow, in the next 70+ interviews, i was able to nail the question, by giving it some context: 'pag arog kayan na dai kamo nakakabayad, pagmati nindo, mapapahali kamo digdi sa daga nindo kan gobyerno?' (in this case that you are not able to pay, do you feel you can still be removed from this lot by the city government?). if the respondent is fully paid, the question is adjusted a little at the start ('maski kamo naka bayad na'...) (even if you are fully paid...)

8. i tie up questions. like in this org level interview, i asked the leader 'could you please relate how your organization came to know this place, why you relocated and the adjustment process your members underwent after the transfer'. this is all mish-mash. primarily, i should give every respondent ample time and effort to answer one question at a time

9. i am a victim of 'ano' (this means 'what' in english but could also be like saying 'you know'). in at least three interviews, i was nodding and agreeing with my respondents as they say in some cases, 'kadto bagang ano, na si ano ang nag aano samo' (you know that time when you know was making us you know). OMG, i could kill myself.  i was saved by my persistence as i notice that in my interviews, i would repeat the information told with the exact details like, 'so, let me know if i understood you well. you mean to say, that office XXX advised you to undergo this XXX by the year 19XX because of XXX'.

so i did sound silly but i slowly climbed a learning curve for interviewing in majority of the transcripts. this learning curve, i will blog about tomorrow.

Thanks to for the pic.

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