A translator is also a writer

A very simple concept, and yet surprisingly vague for most.

In the days of Google Translate, it is even more likely that a lot of people think of translation as a fast, unfeeling and uncreative process. Though believe me, this was true even back in the days of Babelfish and before.

A new colleague at my old job told me how his favourite book of all time was a translation from the Spanish, The Shadow of the Wind. He said that he noticed in it certain turns of phrases, a set up of the language and a use of words he would never expect to find in a book written directly in English. His translator, Lucia Graves, tells us a little of translating process in this article about her.

At the same time, when you read Gregory Rabassa‘s translation into English of One Hundred Years of Solitude, I know that the feelings you will get whilst reading hem will be similar to those I got when reading this, one of my favourite novels of all time, in the original Spanish.

If you are an author, you would love for someone to translate at a similar level what you have written. However,as it stands now, it is not the author who chooses the translator, it is the publisher. You see, when you publish a novel, that publisher has translation rights over your novel. It will be their choice who to get it translated by, and even whether to have it translated at all. Your new prospective publisher (say, an Italian one) needs to ask your English publisher for those rights and then your Italian publisher will nominate one of a select few translators to do the job. It takes forever, if it it’s going to happen at all. You may want to get your book translated first, and you might want to have complete control over how it’s done. My skills as a writer are used to this purpose: I get into and understand your style, your intention and where you’re coming from, and do my very best to convey exactly that.

I also like to unloop this process. I like to offer a professional translation service that won’t cost a fortune for those authors who are as yet unpublished, and perhaps want to translate their text so that they have more publishers they can send it to. I get to do what I love most, translate and write books, and authors get to work out the easiest and more affordable way to pay me. When it’s done, with plenty of feedback and revisions, when the author is happy, all I need is for my name to be linked to that translation, and for you to go and explore a thousand more chances to get your work published.

Writing is a process that takes everything out of you, how can I convey even a small part of that if I don’t understand what writing is? If what i normally do is translate brochures?

When you translate a book, you need to love words, love reading, love writing and love the book you are working on. There are no shortcuts.

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