26 August 2013

Doing vs. blogging: a translator with writer's block in the Internet age

It's been a very long time, and there is an explanation for that: I may be a journalist, but I do occasionally get stung by writer's block, particularly when I'm not working to a deadline!

At one point in recent weeks, I even felt somewhat guilty about not posting anything in my blog. I wanted to write, could not come up with anything mildly interesting to say... and before I knew it my mind had twisted all that into, "Oh, I'm not doing anything!"

I once heard or read somewhere that people who keep a diary occasionally get so caught up in writing about their lives and analyzing them that they forget to actually live them to the full. And I think I experienced a reverse case of that! I took "I can't think of anything to write that my readers might be interested in" to mean that I wasn't doing anything of interest to myself. That, of course, triggered a couple of alarms, fortunately enough to prove that it simply was not true.

I sat back and counted. Over the past two-odd months, the period over which I have not written a proper blog post, I have actually done quite a few things to advance my translation career.

I have for one thing completed my Introduction to Translation course at NYU, the first of what I hope will become my online Certificate in Translation. I did well at it, and I have signed up for a second course in the fall.

I have also registered to sit the DipTrans exam in late January, which I hope will be a crucial milestone in my budding second career.

Further, I have finally made the decision to drop French from my CV! I am now formally a bilingual translator with English and Spanish as my target languages and with those two plus German as my source languages. This may look easy, but the decision has taken me many months, and I am quite proud of it. I started freelancing a year ago with eight language pairs and a broad background. Based on my experience over this year, on lots of reading and research and on the helpful comments of several veteran colleagues, I am now down to four language pairs, with a clear focus on financial translation. The whole process feels somewhat like growing up professionally, and despite the inevitable growing pains it is something I am very happy about.

Also, largely as a consequence of my first NYU course, I finally got my act together with glossary-building. I have been translating forever, but I never developed a consistent habit of actually writing down for future reference and use the words I had to look up as I worked. Now it is finally happening. That is probably yet another aspect of growing up professionally, and it is definitely something else to be very happy about.

In recent weeks I have read 1.5 books on translation (nothing good enough to recommend it here, I'm afraid, but interesting reading nonetheless). I have updated my website and drafted a classy brochure (about to go to print as we speak!) to hand out to potential clients. I have built the foundations of a couple of very interesting working relationships with colleagues that I hope to work with again in the future.

And I even took a great holiday... and did a few translations!

Being a freelance professional in the Internet age is quite a handful. It is exciting and fun but... wait... you have to blog, tweet and post about it! That is usually also exciting and fun, but sometimes it is just too much. Please bear with me when that happens!