I meet with the interviewee at his or her location of choice. Sometimes in his or her home, sometimes in a restaurant or coffeehouse. Interviews have lasted from forty minutes to six hours. For best results, I think it’s ideal to block out at least two hours.
I transcribe the tapes myself. I work very hard to make the transcription as accurate as possible (including all the ands, buts, and ums), knowing that in the essay draft, I will edit these out.
I send the transcript to the interviewee for his or her approval. They read through, make sure I got everything correct (especially spellings), and if there’s something they’ve later decided they don’t want included, I delete this from the text.
Oral History Essay Draft
I create the oral history essay. This is a condensed, edited version of the interview. I may focus only on one event, or on one theme. Or, I may try for a longer, more overarching narrative. This essay is in the first-person, and reads as if the interviewee is telling his or her story (without the interviewer present).
I send the essay to the interviewee, for his or her review.
My goal is to publish these essays as a book. In the meantime, I will post them on this website, and work hard to have them published in magazines and newspapers.