The Art of Court Reporting
By Ruthanne Esparza
I’ve been out of the court reporting field for three years now, out of being an actual reporter for almost 10 years. I didn’t leave voluntarily; my neck decided for me that I was finished as a reporter.
A great life lesson for me was being able to accept this and move on.
And move on, I certainly have! It took time and patience, but today I love what I do and I’m living my life’s purpose as a life coach. An integral part of my current path is to write articles, put together talks, and so on. Once I began to attempt these tasks, putting down my thoughts into the written word turned out to be quite the challenge. To begin an article, a writer must jot down thoughts, ideas, and concepts and then put them together into a cohesive, meaningful manner that allows the reader to engage and receive the intended message. After 20 years of writing and editing other people’s words, any attempt I’d make at writing my own thoughts down would come out stilted and much too formal, and the urge to perfectly punctuate each sentence completely got in the way of me being able to express myself with the written word. It’s taken a couple of years of practice (and tossing out articles that sounded dry as toast!) to overcome this, but it still creeps up on me at times.
I initially posted this story on a couple of court reporter Facebook pages and was surprised at the numerous responses relating to the feeling of being creatively stifled by virtue of being a reporter, expressing the idea that our profession leaves no room for individual creativity. Well, I urge reporters to find their artistic expression both on and off the job.
On the job, putting a transcript together, especially a dense, technical one can be seen as a craft. A perfectly researched, exquisitely punctuated transcript is a work of art, in my opinion. I remember taking the deposition of a rocket scientist in an accident case and having the attorney ask a question for a solid page and a half, where I kid you not, the way it was worded, there was no place for a period! I went round and round and carefully placed my semicolons and commas and sent it to the best proofreader there was.
Only another reporter can understand the feeling of elation when I got the transcript back with no corrections in that question! I truly felt the sense of artistic ability.
The beauty of conversations on social media is the exchange of ideas and advice people so generously offer. Many reporters piped in on my post with ways in which they get their creativity groove on outside of the job, including my favorite: “Have two glasses of wine and then start writing.” Instead of closing yourself off from being creative, I see it as crucial to find a way to express that need inside in order to balance the constant left-brain aspect of being a court reporter. This could be doing yoga, where each time a pose is mastered feels like a work of art; gardening, where the perfectly ripe, red tomato you grow is a work of art; music; painting; writing; carpentry; crafts; and so on.
Everything in this life is about perspective, how you see things. The great thing is we have the ability to reframe and reconsider how we view the world around us. We can choose to see the inspired, artistic expression in absolutely anything in our lives. Once our eyes are opened in this manner, we realize every moment has the potential for expressing our imaginative, creative abilities, which leads to a more balanced, fulfilling life.
Ruthanne Esparza, now a life coach, is a retired court reporter. She worked in the reporting industry for more than 27 years. She trained, certified and spent time working as a coach-advisor for the Robbins-Madanes Coach Training Program. She currently practices as a certified strategic intervention life coach. You can reach her through her website, RuthanneEsparza.com.