Wednesday 19 August 2015

Not being the One Doing the Asking...

This week I was proud to have an interview I did appear in a local paper of my hometown (the Limerick Leader). The contributors to this year's edition of the Old Limerick Journal were all invited to take part in the Arts Interview section. I'd like to publicly acknowledge the saintly patience of John Rainsford in dealing with all my endless edits and indecisiveness. It was my first time as an interviewee. The experience has given me an appreciation for the people I have interviewed and the nerves they must be experiencing, to varying degrees, at the prospect of family, friends and colleagues reading their words. 

I have in recent weeks did my first batch of interviews which is a fascinating process in itself. I have conducted three so far for print. I find it does get easier the more I do them. The second one I was assigned to do happened to be a friend of mine so he was almost interviewing me when we sat at his meeting table. I enjoyed listening back (apart from the shock at hearing how everybody else experiences my accent!) and hearing the tinge of awkwardness in both our voices as if we were strangers. Nevertheless the familiarity gave me a confidence to delve more and go on spontaneous tangential spurts in response to his answers. The third one was with somebody I never met before but the conversation flowed easily. Alas as soon as the record button was hit he was noticeably more conscious of his responses, which is often the case. I would never do it but a part of me wishes I secretly recorded the pre-interview banter. 

Yesterday afternoon I sat in on a more formal interview. I compiled the list of questions, which were edited by the interviewer, somebody I would consider my mentor. I was relieved I wasn't given the task of performing it but rather instead bearing witness to the exchange. The interviewer was so professional and so generous; subtly feeding the interviewee platforms to vault from in order to portray them in the best possible light. Somehow in her expert brevity she got to extract so much information in a series of smooth, continuous anecdotes and observations. Ah, and then there's the job of transcribing the interviews. It is like having to do the washing up after cooking and devouring a kingly feast. Again this arduous task is aided by practice. 

For my other job (don't we all seem to have at least two these days) I frequently end up 'interviewing' in a sense, people in their places of work. It is amazing how the physical environment affects conversation; the level of formality and familiarity. A few of these have been in their homes to collect forms for those who aren't the most IT proficient, their internet was acting up, etc. The last one was a good example of how the most familiar of surroundings, your home/studio where you work and create all day, has the ability to make new visitors feel as known to you as your furniture. I will never name them but due to the fact, I believe, that they were so relaxed in their home they asked me could they arrange a meeting of a more romantic nature. This in itself is a rare occurrence (I can count these on one hand). As flattered as I was at this question, I had to decline. I admire
the bravery- dropping your guard like that is terrifying. I can only put it down to the power of a familiar space rather than my appearance, conversation skills or bad jokes. I am happy to remain a Nick Carraway-like character in the background recording the brilliance of the Great Gatsbys of this world.

I am looking forward to seeing my article appear in the Old Limerick Journal this winter for the second time. It is an honour for me to be included in a publication that I have been consulting since my secondary school days. I have written on an early twentieth century building that I am very fond of, and deserves more attention. Yet again I have that feeling which makes one ask oneself "Me! Are you sure?" 

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