I can’t help it, really I can’t, but every time someone mentions the “bright side” I think of that Monty Python song at the end of the Life of Brian. This “bright side” isn’t quite the same, however. It’s not about finding the positives in a negative situation. It’s about sharing the experiences of colleagues who have realised “that the solutions to the ups, downs, bounties and challenges of life as a freelance translator are in their hands, and their hands alone, who buckle down, refuse to whinge and get on with the job”. This bold statement, which for many is their philosophy of life, also sums up why it has not been well received in all corners of the translation sphere (especially as it seems many critics didn’t get much beyond the first paragraph of the introduction, which this quote comes from). It has inspired Herman Boel to write a series on his blog Alta Verba called The Reality of Our Profession. It might also explain why the new slogan for the IAPTI conference in Athens in September is now: “Neither nihilist nor naive”. Because obviously things happen that are totally beyond our control and change our circumstances. The recent recession springs to mind, and let’s not even get started on machine translation and the impact it has and will continue to have on various segments of our industry.
Yet, on the other hand, we do fashion our own luck to a large extent. And that can be hard to swallow sometimes when things go pear-shaped and we find ourselves desperately flailing around for someone or something else to take the blame. But it’s how we react to events, both the ones we can and can’t control, that really defines how we will go forward. This is what this e-book is about: facing up to challenges, overcoming hurdles, coming up with ideas and seeing them through.
If you’re even remotely like me and love to people watch and discover what makes others tick, then this e-book is definitely something you should spend some time browsing. Its major attraction is that it contains several entries by different contributors, as did Nicole Y. Adams’s previous book, Diversification in the Language Industry. In The Bright Side of Freelance Translation, in which she is joined by Andrew Morris of Standing Out fame as a co-editor, the seven chapters, each focusing on a particular theme, are divided into a number of set questions. Participants were invited to elaborate on the ones they found most appealing. Interspersed between these chapters we find a few brief interviews in which colleagues give their thoughts on agencies, new technologies, the future of our industry and whether they think our profession is still viable.
Frankly, I find it hard to understand how people can accuse The Bright Side of glossing over problems in our industry or the need for hard work. Some of the mini stories in this e-book convey a raw honesty that can be so hard to find in a sector brimming with translators vying for attention and laying claim to greatness to land those coveted clients. Not only do some contributors relate that they didn’t always get it right first (or even second) time, they also detail the steps they took to improve various aspects of their business.
Before you jump to the conclusion that the people who have contributed to this book are just a bunch of Pythonesque nutters living in cloud cuckoo land with a skewed view of the so-called reality of our profession (which naturally exists on so many different levels), could you please do us all the favour of reading to the end. You might discover that one of its refreshing features is that it doesn’t bash peers over the head, call them stupid for failing to “make it” yet or cast aspersions on their professional ability if they don’t charge megabucks. It’s been written by real people who translate for a living who just wanted to share what has worked for them in the hope that it might prove useful to others with open minds.
This post was first published on 30/05/2014 on my previous blog.