The heartless translator (A short story)

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Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart. After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine. It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack. The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back. He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart. And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Nora Torres © 2012 All Rights Reserved

A Freelance Translator’s New Year Resolutions

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1. I will try and invest in my knowledge. I will get training in areas within or without my field of expertise that I feel will help my business or my degree of comfort with the type of projects I want to be working on.

2. I will try and differentiate myself from the rest, offering one or more types of services that go beyond the traditional translation/proofreading scheme. For that, I will need to think outside the box.

3. I will try and set a price for my services that is consistent with the value my clients are getting in return for their money, a price below which I would rather do something else for a living.

4. I will try and define my target market as accurately as possible. If I am being asked to lower my rates on every single job, I may be targeting the wrong clients.

5. Within reason, I will try and set my own standards as to how much work I can consistently translate/back-translate/proof/quality manage per hour/day. 

6. I will try and learn to say “No”. “No” to lowering my rates. “No” to accepting projects or deadlines I am not comfortable with. “No” to working with people who do not respect me or my work.

7. I will try and eat right— I will try and say “No” to eating in front of the computer, “No” to grabbing a quick bite of anything handy while hurrying to get a rush job done, “No” to drinking excessive amounts of coffee to keep me going through the night.

8. I will try and get enough rest on a regular basis. Because of a heavy family/work burden, I know I am unable to sleep 8 hours non-stop, so I will try and take a couple of short naps sometime over the day.

9. I will try and take a weekend off every now and then, and a decent, unplugged vacation once a year. I will try and say “No” to vacationing with a notebook, cables, extra batteries, a diary book, dictionaries, terminology lists, or the like.

10. I will try to keep, and build on, the above resolutions. And I am serious about it.

What about you?

Have you made any resolutions of your own for the coming year? Are they very different from mine?