As transcribers, we're deeply involved in the process of telling other people's stories, sometimes fun and sometimes sad. This particular component of what we do, documenting real-life stories and the impact that it has on us as the transcriptionists, isn't discussed often enough. One of our Transcribe Anywhere students, Aron Feldstein, talks about it in this blog article. He's an excellent writer with amazing insights. It's worth a read.
At some point during the coursework, you might ask yourself, what is there to look forward to as a professional transcriptionist when I finally start doing the work every day? Will it be all drudgery, but better than the drudgery I waded through before at previous jobs? Will it only ever be as exciting as deciding when to use a comma instead of a semicolon?
Transcription is often about increasing our compassion for the human drama we are describing. What? What does compassion have to do with this work?
Each time you transcribe, you are making an intimate connection with the people who are involved in the interview or meeting or podcast. Sure, you can zone out and just type what you hear. If you do that, you may be forgetting how valuable you are in producing a perfect document that tells someone's story. Your work in this way is vitally important. You, the professional transcriber, are capturing what was said and creating a permanent record of human interaction.
You are listening intently to everything the speakers are saying. You are writing everything down, often in strict verbatim format, which, if nothing else, will surely GROW your patience. Transcription is the best method of immersion into a subject. I would say transcriptionists are some of the most intelligent people in the world because we are invariably mixing our minds with the subjects we transcribe.
I am saying that you can connect deeply to the speakers' voice tones, and in this way, you can know them to the extent that you wish: you will know who's lying, who's telling the truth, who's loving, what parent cares about her children. You can use your imagination to transport yourself into whatever scenario your file is describing.
For example, I have done a lot of files about unwanted sexual encounters. I have had to listen to the details of abuse in this way. I feel closer than I ever have to these women. Yes, the actual women whose stories I had the honor of telling. I contributed to their healing because I created the document that will be studied by other professionals to help them and then other women. I am a better person because I did this work, however hard it may have been to get through it.
I simply suggest the idea that transcription has an emotional component and is not mindless work. Maybe we should not be afraid to grow emotionally as we mix with the emotional tones of the beautiful people who populate our files. I have been moved by so many human stories; my work is more genuine because I have grown my empathy. If we see ourselves as compassionate storytellers, the work will be more rewarding by far. You have a lot to look forward to when you begin your transcription career! Don't be afraid to feel.
by Aron Feldstein
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