I had such a good time at the archery competition yesterday. Is it legal for 'work' to be that much fun?! The Bowbrook Archers based just outside of Shrewsbury were, as always, very welcoming and couldn't have helped me more. I think it helped that I was so much more relaxed this time as I had already met them before, and my interviews and photograph taking went more smoothly.
I have the hang of my dictaphone now and I'm not so self conscious about using it. If you can buy or borrow one then do - they are fantastic and make it so much easier. And I find people love speaking into it - it's like putting a huge microphone in front of them - everyone wants to be famous for five minutes! Hanging my ID card and dictaphone around my neck helped me feel more confident too, though it took me a while to work out why everyone I passed seemed to be staring at my chest?!
It is such a laugh playing it back and listening to myself too. You should try it sometime - it's hilarious! (small things please little minds!) I noticed a few 'quirkes' of mine when I was playing back and transcribing the interviews last night. There were times when the tears were rolling down my face as I listened to Dick and Alan, two of the archers - they really are great guys, a real double act. I was laughing so much I couldn't write and as I had my headphones on my husband couldn't hear what I was laughing at and wondered what I had really got up to yesterday afternoon!
For instance, I kind of state the obvious when I'm interviewing people. The whistle blowed signalling it was safe to correct the arrows whilst I was talking to Dick and I said - in a high pitched, high on sugar, school girly voice - "Oooooh there's the whistle!!" and Dick just says "Yeeeeees!" in a slow, deadpan voice, like he's talking to an imbecile! Stunning. The poor man has to have a good sense of humour to deal with me, I can tell you. I also giggle a lot and finish people's sentences! And at one point (I am mortified by this) I cut Dick off mid sentence to ask another question! Tut tut tut. I slapped my wrists for that one. Maybe it was good I didn't have the mead after all! It's also a good learning tool and can tell you things about your interviewing technique that you wouldn't have believed if you hadn't heard it with your own ears!
It was fascinating to hear more about Archery and get to watch the professionals in the beautiful surroundings of Attingham Park. There was mead and a buffet at the end which I didn't stay for as I felt I had imposed myself on them enough. Apparently drinking mead from an old tin cup is traditional! But I took one sniff and couldn't stomach it - there was a great scent of whisky in there too and as I don't drink I had to decline so Alan knocked it back in one for me!)
I can't reccommend going out and meeting new people as a writer highly enough. It's such fun interviewing people and just chatting. Give it try if you haven't done it before. I wouldn't do what I did for your first venture out as I went to the Wenlock Olympian Games and it was just too big with too much going on and I was like a child in a sweet shop! Start small and work up to a bigger event. I was lucky enough to be the only journalist there yesterday and as it was just the one event I had the entire event to myself and had all afternoon to collect my interviews and photos. And I managed to get everything I needed which made me feel quite proud.
Tips that I learned this time:
1. Give your contact details out to the organisers and those you interview so if they want to contact you about anything they can. Also make sure you get their details too so if further questions spring to mind you can get hold of them.
2. Before you go do your homework so that you have a working knowledge of the event you are at. It shows the organisers that you are interested in them and their cause and that you are serious.
3. Make a list of questions the night before you go and take a copy with you so you can refer to it whilst you are there and don't forget something vital.
4. Relax, take your time and try not to get over excited! Be friendly but professional - you might not know exactly what your doing and feel like a jibbering wreck inside - but put on a calm exterior and a smile and they won't know you're nervous. You might even find, like I did, that you enjoy it despite yourself.
I'm still in the process of sending proposals out, frustrating though it is, so watch this space.