I could not imagine I could say such a thing, but I’m a lucky woman. I don’t need anything, I’ve a fantastic family, I’ve got a job and a paid hobby, I’m healthy and sane. Definitely, I’m a lucky woman. Today I feel on top of the world – why? I’ve just seen my dreams come true. Don’t rack your brains in the attempt of recollecting my old posts on the topic, I’ll cut it short. I love books and particularly mysteries, I’ve always dreamt about translating books and today this dream has come true: my first book translation is on sale! Thanks to a special writer, Shawn Inmon, who believed in me in spite of my poor – completely lacking, I should say – literary resume and my naive presentation. The title of the book – what is no coincidence – is Lucky Man, Un uomo fortunato. A short story about success and revenge that keeps you in suspense up to the very last page. Before translating, I read it in a flash and enjoyed every single page. Well, folks don’t think mine’s just grateful fawning, should I give you my fair, disinterested advice on a suitable, light, entertaining book for a summer reading, I would surely recommend this one. After all, I don’t get a penny if you read it in English or in any other language than Italian, so you can trust me.
Working with Shawn reinforced my belief that interaction is the basis of a successful co-operation, especially when it comes to convey a message from a language to another one. Interaction, understanding and patience – a lot of patience when you have to cope with me and my silly questions, for example. He had a lot, and I thank him for that. I take this magnificent opportunity to put the stress on this aspect of the translator’s work. Many of us are worried about asking, but they shouldn’t: in Italy we use to say: Chi domanda, non fa errore (there’s no harm in asking). Nothing could be more true. Questions help clarify passages that might sound obscure to a non-native speaker, even if a professional translator. Questions might help identify the customer’s needs and point of view on style and rendering. Just ask the right questions, otherwise you may look too naive, a newbie. Personally, I’m bold-faced and I’m not scared of looking stupid or incompetent, on the contrary, I use my naivety as a weapon against too great expectations, I prefer to surprise rather than disappoint. Customer advised.
Well, a few things more on translation and opportunities: the market of literary translation is traditionally cutthroat and in most cases doesn’t grant any visibility. But this is the age of e-books and self-publishing, so you have to ride the tide. A few months ago I discovered Babelcube, a sort of brokerage platform, where indie writers can find ambitious translators for their books and also leave the publication and distribution in other markets to more expert hands. Obviously, being shaped on the needs of independent writers, no per-word fee is provided and earnings are paid in the form of royalties. It apparently works, at least as far as teaming up and distribution are concerned: in a few hours my translation was already on the e-shelves of Kobo and Scribd. I’m expecting to see if it really works with money but at the current stage it’s unimportant to me, I need to build up my reputation as literary translator. I will keep you posted on this, especially those of you who are interested in taking up this career, it might be a good opportunity.
My final, politically incorrect thought goes to a progressive best-selling author I wrote on many months ago: I don’t know if I’m a good translator, surely I’m passionate, and you missed the chance of working with me. Surely your choice was not that lucky, at least as far as I can see from the reviews. Obviously, there’s no review on me and I should ‘count my chickens before they’ve hatched’, but I got a feeling, a good feeling … good vibrations, using the title of a song as my usual. And I feel fine!
Well folks, I’m leaving you with a scrap from the past, something that crossed my mind while writing my post. A hit from the Eighties – not by chance – the years in which this story begins. It’s a song by a young Madonna, it’s called Lucky Star.
Your passionate (Italian) Translator
About the illustration: It’s a painting by an Irish artist and it’s called Blessed. I chose it for a couple of good reasons: the word blessed recurs in the book and it’s now impressed indelibly in my mind as a reminder of how blessed I am. Secondly, I was struck by the serenity of the composition, not to mention the fact that the portrayed woman (I suppose an angel) has wings to fly. Today, I feel I got the same wings. Blessed me!
About the artist: An Irish young woman from Belfast, Catherine Wells knits weird, inventive and cute creations, like little bears, angels but also small fancy creatures, some born from recycled materials. Catherine sells her things on Facebook, in her kinda e-shop called Darling Little Notions. She also paints, takes pictures (comprising ironic self-portraits), manipulates photos and does a bunch of other artistic things. Follow her on Facebook