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On Friday, I took some time off in lieu in order to visit the Society of Authors, to attend a talk on "Getting Started in Translation." I've been thinking for a while if I want to have a career in marketing for the rest of my life and I decided that I don't - not exclusively at least. I've been contemplating for some time now whether I should go back to school, and if I should do something related to Brazil (some years ago I looked into an MA in Brazilian Studies at King's, but it didn't go anywhere.)

I've noticed that all brazilian books translated into English are done so by non-brazilians. Usually they are spouses of a brazilian, or they lived there for a few years. They love the language and they love writing, but they are not brazilians... and this to me seemed like an edge I'd have as a literary translator. I'm pretty much fully bilingual and I know there are many brazilian books still waiting to find the right publishing house and distribution in the English-speaking world. Also, I wondered if translation would be a good career for later in life, when I've retired - something I could do well into my old age, as I really have no intention of quitting work one day.

17th March was a lovely Friday, which I started off with a swim at the London Aquatics Centre (I've been kicking myself for not visiting it earlier - it's amazing), and which I hoped to finish with a visit to the David Hockney retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain.[1]

The Society of Authors is deep within Chelsea. What sort of art organisation can afford the rents there? (Unless the building was bequeathed to them by some benevolent patron...?) It was a dusty and warm place, with drawings of old authors on the walls, books and envelopes spread out across messy desks, and friendly staff all too happy to point the way to the salon with tea, coffee and biscuits, and the room beyond where the talk would take place.

There were two literary translators who had just "broken through" invited to talk - Anne Marie Jackson, a Russian translator, and Paul Russell Garrett, a Danish translator. They were introduced by Ros Schwartz, a figuredhead in the British literary scene (she was awarded the Chevalier d’Honneur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French literature, with one of her most recent translations being The Little Prince.)

The main things I learnt from Anne Marie and Paul's talks: literary translation won't make you rich, but if you are passionate enough, dive head first and you will eventually find work; you don't need qualifications to do it, just committment and then proof that you can do it well; and that having a network is really important, and that there are certain steps you need to take in order to approach publishers and work well with them.

I'd seen some YouTube videos already of Ros Schwartz talking about how to be a literary translator, but it was still good to hear her talk through all the key points - she even handed out a useful step-by-step guide. There were about 15 of us in attendance - some with already some background in translation, others finishing their MAs. There were plenty of questions from everyone, including myself.  I was the only one who had brought a friend along ("for moral support", Ros gently joked.) I left feeling quite inspired: I'm going to start looking at what's happening in Brazil's literary scene, work on some short pieces for practice, maybe try to get something published in literary journals. It will take time but if I start now I can slowly build myself up to eventually taking on a large commission and stepping away from 9-to-5 office work. I could potentially end up working from anywhere in the world and surviving from translation (literary and technical) alone (one can dream...)

#Chelsea #London
Chelsea, London

Yesterday, I woke up at 4am to get ready for an event in Regent's Park on behalf of the charity I work for. I stood around from 6am to 2pm, helping carry boxes, lift marquees, set up desks, receive supporters, take things down, put things away, etc. By the time I headed home, I was knackered.

We had plans to see an animation at the BFI's Flare Festival (London's LGBTQ film festival) followed by drinks with some friends and then a club night dedicated to Duran Duran. I figured I could just about manage the film, Torrey Pines, which I'm now glad I did go see as it's a wonderful "queer punk coming-of-age tale, taking place in Southern California in the early 1990s".

I love this festival. The South Bank gets filled with all sorts of queer characters, mostly mature cinema goers, and there's a sense of the queer community coming together in a very peaceful, unstressful way. A lot of the films screened never make it to Netflix so it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see them on the big screen.

The tickets had been bought by a good friend who had brought along his new boyfriend, a handsome australian who is a professor of literature (and who doesn't like books, but I don't know if he said that because he's tired of teaching them...) After the screening, Clyde Petersen, who is a transgender stop-motion animator, talked about how the film was shot during 3 years in his basement flat, with the help of many queer artists based in Seattle. The film is based on Clyde's own experiences as a 12-year-old coming to terms with his sexuality while living with a schizophrenic single mother.

One of the evening's pleasures was watching the film accompanied by a live band, Clyde Petersen's Your Heart Breaks. The soundtrack was originally recorded in former Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla's studio in Seattle and there's a host of musicians attached to it, including Kimya Dawson (from the Moldy Peaches) who sings as Whitney Houston in one of the film's funniest scenes.

Piney Torres is a lovely, boldly colourful and touching animation, worth seeing if you get a chance.



[1] It was unfortunately sold out, so we walked from the Tate Britain to the South Bank and spent an hour in the Royal Festival Hall drinking hot chocolates, people watching and writing in our journals.

Date: 2017-03-19 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rockingthemike.livejournal.com
coincidentally, you should check out of neil gaiman's most recent blog posts, because he talks about authors and translators as well!

Date: 2017-03-21 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
Cheers M., will check it out. I'm actually building a new feed of blogs (did some cull of old ones that weren't updated anymore) - I'll add his. Does he update often?

Date: 2017-03-21 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rockingthemike.livejournal.com
not on a super regular basis (i want to say once a month at most, on average), but i find he usually has a good nugget or two worth noting in each post. he especially does a great job of updating fans on the progress of various projects.

Date: 2017-03-19 11:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norabird.livejournal.com

What a wonderful new path to explore! You should check out the novel 'Ways to Disappear', which is largely about translating, and set in Brazil no less! The author came to my book club (she is a translator originally, not from Brazil as you point out ;)) and it was quite fascinating. Might give you some insights!

Date: 2017-03-21 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
Ah, thank you! Have added it to my GoodReads (I wish I had the time in the world to read all the books I wish to read...!)

In your experience of the publishing world, have you worked much with translators? Met brazilian portuguese translators?

Date: 2017-03-21 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
Ha... It's already on my GoodReads list. :-P

Date: 2017-03-21 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norabird.livejournal.com

Perfect ;) Do bump it up, it's so fun and quick and a different angle into translation for you. Alas I've never really worked with many myself.

Date: 2017-03-20 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mypetittrianon.livejournal.com
So good to read you! I can hear you speaking:-) Ah, eu sei que se vc escrever para editoras aqui no Brasil, eles te mandam um teste para ver se você pode ou não se tornar um dos tradutores deles. Quando eu voltei em 07, eu fiz isso (mas não passei por que o meu português estava horrível e por que eu "interpretava" demais, coisa pouco desejável para trabalho literário). Quando eu vi que a minha "pegada" era interpretação, eu consegui freelas por que era isso que era mais necessário em tradução (falada) simultânea, assim como em trabalhos que não eram para publicação.

Date: 2017-03-21 01:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
Thanks for the tips... for me, I want to translate from Portuguese into English - I don't think I would be any good the other way round! (or at least not now.) I would really love to translate a brazilian book that's aimed for the Anglo market...

Date: 2017-03-20 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olamina.livejournal.com
Translation is fun but in some ways thankless work. Made all the more so by the availability of cheap Google translations. There seems to be a general rule that a translation into a language should be done or overseen by native speakers of that language but you are a special case since you've been bilingual all along, no?

Date: 2017-03-21 01:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
Translation is fun but in some ways thankless work.

They talked about that. The workload, the low rates, the times when publishers take your pitch and hand it to another translator they prefer... but they still seemed quite happy with the field, despite these things. I think it's that pleasure of connecting with someone else's work and helping it reach a new audience.

Date: 2017-03-26 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] millionreasons.livejournal.com
I've noticed that all brazilian books translated into English are done so by non-brazilians.
That's because it's traditional to translate into the mother tongue (I looked into translation work when I left Uni), but as you are bi-lingual that shouldn't matter. There are loads of translation competitions - you should go in for one of them!

Date: 2017-03-26 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] picosgemeos.livejournal.com
I consider brazilian portuguese my mother tongue but I'm not as good at it! I left Brazil when I was in 8th grade so I have reservations about my capacity... I probably could do it though if I put my mind to it.

You gave me an interesting thought here... I suppose it makes sense to translate into your mother tongue because then it's not so much about the integrity of the original text but the capacity to make it work as best as possible in the other language.

I'll keep an eye out for those competitions! I've offered to translate (into French) two flash fiction pieces by an American author... we'll see how I go with that. :-)

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