Professional subjects from a personal perspective
Today, I am pleased to share my interview with Lisa Carter, an award-winning Spanish to English translator, who also provides information and advice for literary translators via her blog and online courses.
If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?
I’m really quite pleased with my freelance career thus far, but the one thing I wish I had started to do earlier is build strong partnerships with my colleagues. There are times when I’m at full capacity or a client wants work done into my source language (Spanish). I never want to let my clients down, so having a network of people whose work I truly trust — and who trust me in turn — is beneficial to everyone involved. As freelancers, we don’t have to be hermetically-sealed-self-contained units! Close collaboration can be very rewarding and I’m glad that lesson has finally sunk in for me.
What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?
“Believe it and you’ll be it.” A friend said this to me years ago, when I confessed that what I really wanted was to be was a literary translator. I’m sure I dismissed this seemingly trite remark with a scowl, thought of all the challenges, muttered about it taking much more than belief. But the thought never left me. I began to take it to heart. My friend was right: every desire to accomplish something starts with the belief that you can do it. It’s the first and highest hurdle. Once you’re over it, that belief will give you the strength to get up and over the next hurdle, and the next. Proof positive: I have now published seven books in translation.
If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?
I would most likely study culinary arts. Food is a huge part of my life: I wake up thinking about what I’ll eat, where, when and with whom! There’s nothing more satisfying than wandering through a market, finding the perfect spice, tasting new flavours, concocting in my newly-renovated kitchen and sharing meals with others. I’ve even owned a small restaurant and a bar. It’s awfully hard work and not nearly as glamorous as I thought it would be, but I do still occasionally think about opening the perfect little Peruvian restaurant in Canada…
Lisa Carter is a Spanish>English translator with nearly twenty years of experience, specializing in literary, legal and commercial banking texts. She has published six titles to date, with a seventh forthcoming in 2013. Her translation of El calígrafo de Voltaire [Voltaire᾿s Calligrapher], a novel by Argentine writer Pablo De Santis, was awarded the Alicia Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation or Interpretation, and she was nominated for the the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for her translation of The Einstein Enigma: A Novel, by José Rodrigues Dos Santos.
You can also follow her on Twitter at @intralingo.
Wow, it’s been a while since I last blogged! I would love to say that I’ve been on a tropical island somewhere for the past few weeks, or even “putting the ‘free’ back in freelancing” like Céline on the Naked Translations blog but, actually, I’ve been run off my feet with work of all descriptions.
Returning readers (hi there!) will know that I have been pursuing a part-time Master’s degree in Translation, and the workload has been slowly building up over the past few months. In addition, I’m delighted to say that my continued marketing efforts are starting to pay off big time. This has all been a recipe for tiredness, but also a great sense of satisfaction. After my quiet start to the year, I’ve been so busy that blogging has slipped right down my priority list, but I still have a few 1 Linguist, 3 Questions posts to share with you before starting my new series of interviews on the subject of specialising (keep your eyes peeled!).
So what have I been up to?
*Approaching direct clients
*Admin – hey, it’s got to be done!
*Getting professional photos done for my website and online profiles – they’re on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for now
*Getting new business cards, special mini cards and stickers, in preparation for the ITI Conference in May
What about actual translation?
*Fashion retailer’s website – German to English (38,000 words)
*Website copy for a hotel – French to English
*Website copy for an advertising agency – German to English
*Collection of short stories – German to English
I hope you have all been having such a productive time of it lately. Now, I’m off to spend a weekend away from my desk. Hopefully the sun will come out…
When I started this blogging journey almost exactly a year ago (time flies!), my main aim was to share my experiences and, hopefully, provide some food for thought for other translators and freelancers. Since then, I have written on a wide range of topics, from marketing to professional development and from productivity to client relations. I’m delighted with the response to my blog, in what is already a pretty saturated field. When I started out on my own (I had already blogged for employers), I never imagined that I would be invited to give presentations and interviews on blogging – not a bad start!
In order to say happy birthday to my blog (I think maybe it needs a name – what do you reckon?), I thought I’d run through a few of the most popular posts so far:
• The 1 Linguist, 3 Questions series – this has been amazingly popular, with a lot of my translation role models agreeing to take part. There are still one or two to come, so keep your eyes peeled for them! If you want to catch up, have a browse through the series so far.
• The Freelance Translator’s Reading List – another collaborative effort, receiving suggestions on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you have anything to add, please get in touch and I can add your favourite(s) to the lists.
• Dealing with the quiet times – despite being one of my more recent posts, this has proved one of the most popular. I think everyone can relate to the feeling you get when things have a been a little slower than normal. In fact, Judy Jenner has recently posted some great tips on dealing with famine periods over at Translation Times.
The past year in blogging has been very successful (and enjoyable!) for me, having been invited to contribute to the ITI Bulletin, do presentations with colleagues, write guest posts and do online and audio interviews about blogging and my business – all on the basis of this little blog. Here’s a quick round-up of what opportunities blogging has resulted in for me:
• Articles for the ITI Bulletin (more to come soon!)
• Presented with Marta, Valeria and Meg at the Language Show in London
• Invited to write a guest post for Dana Translation
• Interviewed for Sharp End Training’s Blogging Toolkit, along with Judy Jenner and Corinne McKay, and hosted a giveaway of a free copy
• Interviewed on Lloyd Translates about how I got into translation
• Included in the blogroll of 10 colleagues’ blogs
• Interviewed on Sara Colombo’s blog about work/life balance
If you’re considering starting a blog, or you have let yours slide somewhat, I’d definitely recommend going for it – who knows what it could lead to?
Ok, so you started 2013 with bags of energy and the determination to progress and make this your (and your business’) best year yet. But energy has this way of draining after a few tough days (or weeks), and bad experiences with new clients or suppliers can get you down. It’s easy to lose your way on the path to your goal.
That’s why Katie Anderson’s latest blog post really spoke to me. Career progression comes down to choices. Your choices. Whenever a new opportunity comes your way, or you have a new idea, ask yourself whether the step will bring you closer to your ultimate goal. Yes? Go for it! No? Maybe it’s time for a rethink. Thinking of your dream career, or the place where you want your business to be in 5 years’ time, as a destination can make it all seem that little bit more achievable. Most things in life can be equated to a journey, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get to the end of that road and achieve your dreams.
Of course, the first step in all of this is establishing exactly what you’re aiming for. I sat down with a big piece of paper and a set of coloured pens (stationery – I can’t help myself) and mapped out my path. If you have a spare 30 minutes or so (longer if you really get into it), I would really recommend this – it was a great help for me to physically see where I want to be and how I can get there.
If visual techniques aren’t your thing, there’s always the age-old question: where do you see your business in 5/10/20 years’ time? Be clear, though. You need to set, or at least identify, real targets, or it becomes a wasted exercise.
How are you feeling about your business at this potentially deflating time of year? Personally, I’m cheerful, busy and in need of a holiday!