When I’m not writing, I work as an educational or freelance ASL interpreter. Lately the differences between those two environments has been a minor source of stress in my life. In freelancing, I am sent out by my agency to do a variety of jobs. Most assignments over 30 minutes I’m sent with a team. I get almost no prep materials, and if I’m lucky I might get a few minutes to chat with the consumers (both Hearing and Deaf). In school, I am sent solo to one 45 minute class after another with only the 5 minute passing time afforded to the students to clear my brain and get ready for the next class. On the plus side I do get prep materials and a chance to get to know the students and teachers.
In my role as and Educational ASL Interpreter, my students have learned that I make a darned good tutor when it comes to their English papers. And a frustrating one as well. What causes this particular set of feelings is the way that I tutor them. Word by word, without ever telling them what to say, I pick apart their sentences until each one is grammatically correct. Once one sentence is correct, I send them off to fix the rest of the paragraph on their own. I can totally understand their frustration. It was the same method that my favorite (and most hated) interpreting teacher used. I know that frustration well, and I know the results.
I have to start by telling you that so far this year is – for the most part – going very well on the writing front. I’ve already sent out my first submission for the year and have a full line up for editing and writing new stories and novels. So keep that in mind as I tell you some of the not so good things that are happening and their effects on my ability to produce.
It’s back to school season. As an interpreter working in public schools, that means for me it is also back to work season and get as many workshops in as school will pay for season. This year’s all day district workshop for interpreters (one of the few days that we actually all get to see each other before we scatter to the four winds to struggle to explain what we do to teachers, administrators and students), we spent the day learning how to learn. It’s an odd concept until you think about it.
American Sign Language (ASL) does not have a written form. So this post isn’t going to be about writing ASL. Rather, it’s about the joy and challenge of talking about writing (in English) with Native ASL speakers – in this case two 2nd generation Deaf Adults who also happen to be avid readers in the genre I write.