If you love your translator, set them free!

What a wonderful time we all had at Elia Together 2016 in Barcelona! I know it was over a month ago now and the memories are fading amongst new jobs, word counts and upcoming events, but I would like to share my experience of Elia and what I took away from it. I was inspired to grow my business, to focus more on the areas that interest me the most, but the crux was the need for better, more open communication between freelancers and LSPs, and a respect for each other on an individual level. We need to end toxic business relationships and practices, and trust each other to do the jobs we are trained and qualified to do (and this applies equally to how freelancers treat project managers and agencies in general!).


Inspiration from Stephen Lank – What’s your Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

The highlight:

There was a variety of focus areas, and one talk that I found the most stimulating, hilarious and encouraging was Karen Tkaczyk’s frank discussion on how LSPs can keep their “high-end” freelancers, and it’s not just about money. She covered things like the obvious bonus points for clients who pay on time, as well as how off-putting it is to be asked to spend hours on time-consuming and unnecessary admin (and frequent system changes). After all, we are freelancers for a reason!

The overall message:

If one thing is clear, it’s that language service providers (LSPs/agencies) need freelancers and most freelance translators need agencies. In order for both LSPs and freelancers to thrive, they need to nurture this basic yet at times problematic relationship.

Like so many relationships, many causes for discontent can be attributed to poor communication and/or money.

On money:

In my opinion, the money issues are boring. In most languages there is an expression like “pay peanuts, get monkeys” or “buy cheap, buy twice”. Of course, end clients are demanding and a business must be competitive in order to function, something which perhaps some freelancers are happy to ignore, as agencies save us the trouble of dealing with end clients – and finding them. Similarly, it is a freelancer’s responsibly as a business owner – even if the business is only one person – to know the market, to know what we’re worth and to negotiate. It’s a minefield, sure, but a common thread throughout Elia was that merely complaining – or indeed vehemently complaining – about it is not the way to go about achieving a positive change.

On communication:

Effective and open communication among all of us within the language industry is the key to a satisfying future where we can grow together. However, this kind of honest communication can be uncomfortable. Personally, I had the plan to work in-house at a translation agency before going freelance, but, in the end, freelancing was providing me with enough income and I know myself well enough to know the 9-6 is not for me. This means I am always asking friends and colleagues on the other side what the challenges are and what I can do to make a project manager’s life easier. Agencies seem to have a similar problem, that they are not made aware of freelancers’ realities because many translators are afraid to voice problems, preferences or concerns, due to the fear that we are simply a number and rocking the boat would mean that the next person would be plucked from the list to take any further work that would have otherwise been sent to us.

Another possible cause of communication issues was highlighted: ironic as it may be, we need to remember that in a lot of LSP<>freelancer communication, one or both parties may not be communicating in their first language, so we should always make allowances for this and any minor errors or perceived rudeness/coldness/cause for upset. Communication is our business so we have no excuse!


All work and no play … is not what Barcelona means! Most of us stayed as long as possible!

To summarise: be human, be personal and be kind:

  • Both sides want their work to be appreciated and understood
  • Only write in an email what you would say to someone’s face
  • Have faith and expect the best intentions
  • Pick up the phone sometimes

We are two sides of the same coin.

We are all humans and we are all individuals.

We need united, professional relationships to set an example to newcomers and clients and to ensure that LSPs working with freelancers have a positive experience and vice versa.

Last Night We Had A Dream

By Felicity Pearce

ANOCHE TUVE UN SUEÑO Ph- Luis Malibran_LM06578.JPG

Spot the translators! Credit: Luis Malibran

Welcome to our first bilingual post! Last year Paula wrote about our trip to Madrid as part of an ongoing collaboration between us (and a number of other translators) and what was then a Spanish-language magazine Anoche Tuve Un Sueño. Now the global magazine (just a few articles can take you to places like Paris, South Africa, Rio and Mauritius, to name but a few) is beginning it’s English journey as Last Night I Had A Dream.

To celebrate this success and all the hard work, love and perseverance that is behind it, we asked publisher Julia Higueras and editor-in-chief Fernando López del Prado to share the story of the magazine and their experience of the translation process, naturally in both Spanish and English.

We hope you enjoy this interview and the magazine as much as we have enjoyed working on it and with Julia and Fernando.

In Spanish:

ANOCHE TUVE UN SUEÑO Ph- Luis Malibran_LM06350.JPG

Julia at the Premios de los Optimistas Comprometidos, the awards ceremony organized by the magazine. Credit: Luis Malibran


FP: Primero, ¿nos cuentas un poco la historia de la revista, cómo empezó y qué representa?

JH: Hace 5 años tuve un sueño, rescatar la vocación de servicio público del periodismo y liderar un nuevo estilo de vida: el pensamiento sostenible. Así nació Anoche tuve un sueño, una global magazine, la revista de los optimistas comprometidos. Desde ese instante nos hemos dedicado a conectar causas, personas y marcas que creen que nuestras acciones de hoy tendrán un efecto positivo en las generaciones del mañana y en eso trabajamos cada día, con ilusión y optimismo, aportando soluciones y siempre desde la esperanza. Somos la generación del cambio, somos gente bio-tiful.

Después de todos estos años remando a contracorriente, nos hemos convertido en pioneros y referentes del nuevo periodismo comprometido, responsable, crítico e independiente. Hemos creado una comunidad internacional integrada por personas optimistas y comprometidas, de multitud de países, que hablan distintos idiomas pero que tienen un nexo común: creen en el pensamiento sostenible y actúan en consecuencia, y luchan por mejorar la sociedad en que vivimos.

Hace 5 años tuve un sueño: unámonos NO para hacer lo posible sino para HACERLO posible.


FP: ¿Cómo y cuándo surgió la idea de la revista en inglés, o siempre era el plan?

JH: La revista nació con la vocación de ser una Global Magazine, pero la crisis económica – que ha azotado de forma especialmente virulenta a los países del Sur de Europa- retardó mucho los planes de la revista en inglés… La gran lección que aprendimos es que  nunca hay que dejar de creer en los sueños. Nosotros NUNCA dejamos de creer que Anoche tuve un sueño sería: Last Night I Had a Dream… ¡y el sueño se hizo realidad! ¿Cómo? Pues gracias a un grupo de traductores maravillosos que creyeron en lo que hacíamos y decidieron poner lo mejorque sabían hacer – traducir- a disposición de los demás… traduciendo dan a conocer el trabajo de mucha gente anónima que trabaja para conseguir hacer realidad los sueños ajenos y para ofrecer, además,  a las generaciones venideras un legado digno… La revista en inglés te enseña que los sueños no tienen fronteras, los sueños unen y dan sentido a nuestras vidas…   A Fernando – hacedor de este éxito- siempre le suelto una frase de la escritora Gabriela Mistral que me motiva mucho ante la dificultad (ahora a él también):

‘Donde haya un árbol que plantar, plántalo tú. Donde haya un error que enmendar, enmiéndalo tú. Donde haya un esfuerzo que todos esquivan, hazlo tú. Sé tú el que aparta la piedra del camino’

Y en eso estamos ahora, apartando la siguiente piedra del camino…


FP: ¿Fue tu primera experiencia trabajando con traductores, y cómo ha ido?

FLP: Sí, ha sido la primera vez. También la primera vez que tenía que coordinar el trabajo de nueve traductores a la vez, a los cuales no conocía y estaban haciendo un trabajo voluntario, desinteresado. La experiencia ha sido positiva. Me ha ayudado a entender el todo el trabajo que hay detrás de una buena traducción. Desde luego es mucho más que cambiar palabras de un idioma a otro. Traducir un texto es algo muy complejo. Un idioma es la manera que tiene un país o toda una región de comunicarse, de expresar sentimientos y pensamientos complejos. El ejercicio de trasladar toda esta información de un idioma a otro y conseguir que mantenga su significado original es muy difícil. Implica conocer el idioma y la cultura que lo rodea. Además el traductor/a también tiene que tener un poco de escritor.


FP: ¿Has aprendido algo sobre el proceso de la traducción?

FLP: Por supuesto que sí. Como decía antes, traducir un texto es un proceso complejo y aprendí que hay que preparar muy bien cómo se aborda el trabajo. Para empezar, es fundamental entender bien el texto que se va a traducir. Para ello es necesario hacer una lectura en profundidad. Hay que entender cada palabra, cada expresión, cada coma, cada punto. Si no, es imposible realizar una traducción de calidad. Además, hay que contar con un buen conocimiento sobre el autor y el marco en que el texto se concibe, por lo que una investigación previa es siempre muy útil. También aprendí lo importante que son el número de palabras y la fecha de entrega, sobre todo para los y las traductoras que trabajan por cuenta propia.


FP: ¿Por qué ha sido importante para vosotros tener traducciones de calidad y producidas por escritores que tienen el inglés como lengua materna?

FLP: Al fin y al cabo, Anoche Tuve un Sueño es un medio escrito y la calidad de los textos es un componente al que una revista no podía renunciar. Además de las imágenes, la otra herramienta de trabajo son las palabras y hay que tratarlas con mucho mimo.

Las personas que traducen, idealmente, tienen que ser nativas y conocer bien  la cultura que rodea a ese idioma. Solo así, se hará una buena traducción. Para mí, la traducción perfecta es la que no se sabe que es una traducción. Cuando es simplemente un texto bien estructurado y bien escrito, cuando se lee de manera fluida, que logra trasladar los mismos sentimientos que el autor imaginó en el texto original. Y eso es lo que sentí cuando leí la primera edición en inglés de Anoche Tuve un Sueño.



Dreams come true

And in English:

FP: Firstly, could you tell us a bit about the magazine, how it started and what it stands for?

JH: Five years ago I had a dream: to rescue the public service vocation of journalism and to lead a new lifestyle – sustainable thinking. And so Anoche Tuve Un Sueño was born – a global magazine created by and for the committed optimists. From that point onwards we have been connecting causes, people and brands that believe that our actions today will have a positive effect on the generations of tomorrow. This is what we work towards every day, full of drive and optimism and providing solutions from a place of hope. We are the generation of change – we are the bio-tiful people.

After all these years of uphill struggle, we have become pioneers and leaders for a new type of journalism that is committed, responsible, critical and independent. We have brought together an international community of people who are committed and optimistic, from all over the world: people who speak different languages but who share a common bond: we all believe in sustainable thinking and we act on it, striving to improve the society in which we live.

Five years ago I had a dream – not to come together to do what is possible, but to make it possible.


FP: How and when did the idea of having an English version of the magazine start, or was that always the plan?

JH: The magazine was born to be a global magazine, but the financial crisis – which has been acutely felt in southern European countries – really put the brakes on the plans to launch the magazine in English. The lesson we learned was to never stop believing that Anoche Tuve Un Sueño would become Last Night I Had a Dream. And the dream is coming true, thanks to a group of wonderful translators who believed in what we were doing and who decided to use their skills to ensure that the texts could be enjoyed by a wider audience, and to spread the word about the work of many anonymous people who work to carry out the dreams of others and to provide future generations with a worthy legacy. The start of the magazine in English teaches us that dreams do not have boundaries, dreams bring people together and give meaning to our lives. I often share with Fernando – the man behind the successful start of the magazine in English – a quote from Nobel Prize Winner and writer Gabriela Mistral that often spurs me on during difficult times (and now spurs him on too):

“Where there is a tree to plant, plant it yourself. Where there is a mistake to undo, let it be undone by you. Where effort is needed and everyone shirks, put yourself forward. Let it be you who removes the rock from the path.”

And this is where we are now, removing the next rock from our path…


FP: Was this your first experience working with translators? Was it positive/negative?

FLP: Yes, it was a first for me, and also the first time I was responsible for coordinating the work of nine translators at once – people I did not know and who were working voluntarily and selflessly in support of the magazine. It has been a positive experience. It has helped me to understand all the work that goes into a good translation. It is certainly more than changing words from one language to another. Translating a text is very complex process. A language is the way through which a country or a whole region communicates and expresses complex feelings and thoughts. Transferring all of this information from one language to another while ensuring that it retains the original meaning is extremely difficult; it requires a knowledge of the language and the culture surrounding it. A translator also needs to have a talent for writing.


FP: Did you learn anything about the translation process?

FLP: I certainly did. As I said before, translating a text is a complex process and I learned that good preparation is needed when approaching a translation. This means an in-depth reading, understanding each word, each expression, each comma and full stop. Without this, a high-quality translation is not possible. The translator also needs to have a good understanding of the author and the context within which the text was written, so some preparatory research is always helpful. I also learned about the importance the wordcount and the delivery date have for freelance translators. J


FP: Why was it important for you to have good quality translations by native English writers?

FLP: Last Night I Had A Dream is ultimately a written medium and the quality of the texts is one factor the magazine could not compromise on. In addition to the images, the other tool at our disposal is the written word, so this has to be re-produced with great care.

Ideally, people who translate should be native speakers and should have a deep understanding of the culture surrounding the language – only then can a good translation be achieved. For me, the perfect translation is one that does not read like a translation. A text that is simply well structured and well written, that can be read fluidly and which communicates the same feelings that the author conveyed in the original text. And this is what I felt when I read the first edition of Last Night I Had A Dream.

Do you secretly want to be a literary translator?

By Felicity Pearce

I do. I guess it’s not a secret anymore, but I think it’s quite a common dream among us commercial translators, and most literary translators will admit to doing some commercial work on the side. Of course, they must only do the glamorous and creative stuff, but it seems that they are not always only working on translating a book. Or a poem, which could easily take just as long.

And so I began my journey into the world of literary translators, attending this year’s International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School which was run by the British Centre for Literary Translation and Writers’ Centre Norwich, at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Unesco City of Literature, of course. The summer school combined literary translation workshops with creative writing sessions and panel discussions.

Apart from being surrounded by genius, one thing that really stood out for me during the week was the collaboration among translators, nicely linking in to my last post on the #translaborate event. Our English-language workshop leader, a writer herself, also highlighted that this collaboration is not quite as natural among writers, who usually work in terrifying or beautiful solitude. I now have a better understanding of the fear of the blank page.

But back to translation. With the array of exotic languages on offer at this year’s Summer School, I considered trying Italian, which I love but do not have an in-depth knowledge of, or German, which I have a good understanding of, although our relationship is very complex. But in the end I went for the non-language-specific prose workshop, which took me so far out of my comfort zone, working with a Bengali text (and a first-draft/literal translation thereof). Imagine the discomfort of having zero comprehension of the source text! But we were all in it together, feeling our way through the dark.

The process was very enlightening. I see it as a slow-word movement in the middle of commercial deadlines and requests and follow-ups. We spent the whole week on it (many morning and afternoon sessions) and, by the end of the third day, I think we had less than 200 words, and even those were not finalised! What we did was a kind of editing/translating hybrid, and we had in-depth access to the source language and culture through Arunava Sinha, our workshop leader. It is easy to apply everything we were doing to translations with the languages I do understand, and especially to the editing we do every day.

On the last day, we enjoyed listening to the work of each group (translations from Dutch, German, Korean and Italian, to name but a few) and a dinner at the medieval Dragon Hall, the home of Writers’ Centre Norwich. Dragons feature a great deal in the history and architecture of Norwich, and Dragon Hall itself has a hugely rich history. The building began life in the 15th century as a trading hall, but has housed many other businesses and causes in its colourful history, including a brothel, we were told.

Dragon at Dragon Hall

A dragon relaxing at Dragon Hall

I cannot recommend this summer school highly enough, and if you are interested in literary translation, here are some other points of interest (if you are a literary translator or if you know of any more, please comment):

In Other Words journal from BCLT

Translate in the City Summer School – held annually in London

International Translation Day event at the British Library

Emerging Translators Network – E-mail based forum to ask questions about literary translation in a safe environment

European Literature Night – event held annually at the British Library

Translators Association – part of the Society of Authors

MA in Literary Translation at UEA

American Literary Translators Association


Translation and Collaboration

by Felicity Pearce

Last week I attended the exciting Translation as Collaboration Symposium at the University of Westminster, to hear a number of speakers discuss different interpretations (see what I did there) of the idea of “translaboration”. I thought it only fitting to share some thoughts from the day here, as the Deep End blog is a result of collaboration among translators, and the event was at the University where we all met. For more information about the translaborate group, click here.

Knowledge sharing image on the front of the University of Westminster welcome pack

Knowledge sharing image on the front of the University of Westminster welcome pack

As a translator, I am positive about the profession and my place within it, but a greater awareness and understanding of the professional job that we do is still sometimes lacking. I’ve noticed recently that “translate” has been captured and is being used as a business buzz-word (similar to “synergy” and “reach out”) and I have sometimes wondered how we can make this work in our favour. Any translation process in business (as far as I understand, people usually want things to translate into results!) implies work and effort, which may be highly skilled and time-consuming, but which seamlessly delivers the desired result. Sound familiar?

Christiane Zehrer, from the University of Hildesheim, presented on “Translaboration in Technical Communication: A Case for Knowledge Communication”, and explained how writers of user manuals and other technical communication were previously employed by the company and worked on-site, being some of the first people to see and touch a new product, in order to effectively write such material. Apparently this applied to translators too! Some companies have changed these practices, but it is clear that knowledge communication is the key to the best end product. The more the writer or translator can communicate with all of the staff involved in developing the product, the better their understanding of said product will be, which will help the end user enormously.

One point that came up is that clients are sometimes concerned about sharing too much information with translators. I think this is where the recognition of membership of professional bodies is key and in this sense the great work of institutions such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translators and Interpreters in recent years has facilitated a great deal of progress. I would also hope that we will see more knowledge communication between professions, as we have seen in recent years with the rise of CPD events that are based in other fields but open to translators.

Personally, my favourite translation jobs have been the collaborative ones. Collaborating with a client on exactly how they want their message conveyed and working alongside other translators on large projects (more on that in my next post).

Unfortunately I was on mother duty so I had to rush off and missed the last session (and the drinks!), but I was following on Twitter, and I think this quote from Ros Schwartz sums up the mood of the day, and that of most translators:

“Collaborating in translation equals professional development”

Living the dream!

By Felicity Pearce

Helen Barlow, founder of A World of Words Translations is literally living the dream. The dream that many of us (myself included) have when we think about being a freelance translator. She is as free as a bird, traveling the world, translating and learning new languages as she goes. For this week’s post, we’ve been asking her a few questions about her Utopian existence.

FP: Helen, can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a freelance and traveling translator, and any experience you think really helped?

HB: I’ve always had a serious case of itchy feet which led to me working for 6 years as an English teacher overseas a few years after completing my BA in French and Spanish. I worked in France, Thailand and Peru, improving my language skills while traveling and gaining valuable cultural insights. When I was in Peru, one of the teachers gave me her CV to translate into English, and I really enjoyed doing it. I then had the opportunity to translate a travel guide about Lima, which made me think I could combine my passion for language and travel and achieve the freedom I craved by translating for the travel and tourism industry. I took a two-year online translation course with City University. After that, I threw myself wholeheartedly into making my location-independent lifestyle a reality and took the excellent Masters in Technical and Specialised Translation at Westminster University. Then I was ready to go!

FP: Although a dream shared by many of us, being a traveling translator can still be a daunting prospect. What advice would you give to those considering hitting the road? Was it a leap of faith or did you make the change gradually?

HB: After completing the Master’s course, I was impatient to start my new lifestyle, so I booked a one-way ticket to Brazil. I planned to work while learning Portuguese. In hindsight, I suppose I should have saved up some more cash and established myself more with translation clients/agencies before hitting the road. It wasn’t exactly easy at first; work slowly trickled in and I spent more time filling out countless agency forms and sending off CVs than actually translating. Good job the beach and street parties are free! After about 3 months, work became more regular. So, my advice is to head off once you’ve got your regular jobs and contacts all set up; well, that’s the sensible option!

FP: Getting back to palm trees and breath-taking views, where are your favourite places in the world to set up shop? What are some of the best views you’ve had from your “office”?

HB: I love Asia. I go to India and combine translating with yoga courses, taking in views of the Kerala backwaters, the Himalayas or the tea plantations. Bali is also popular among freelancers with its laid-back cafés and homestays overlooking the rice paddies. Latin America is also a firm favourite. Living in the vibrant historic centre of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, was an amazing experience. Closer to “home”, I have lived in Lisbon which is really well set-up for freelancers and has excellent co-working spaces and a rich café culture. I loved taking my laptop along to one of the many miradouros where I had my morning coffee while gazing out over the mishmash of terracotta rooftops.


A day at the office

FP: And on a more practical note, we know that you travel with your laptop, but what contingency measures would you recommend, in case there are internet issues, etc.?

HB: A local SIM card for your smartphone. Also, I have a “mi-fi”, or personal hotspot, which is a great back-up in times of weak or no wi-fi. It just requires a local SIM card. That’s about it.

FP: Finally, what is the single best thing about your job?

HB: FREEDOM! Being able to work from absolutely anywhere is such a luxury. I do work full-time and it’s not a walk in the park, but I’m trying to make my life as much as possible like a permanent holiday.  And not having to physically GO to work, there’s no commute and your office can be a park bench, a beach, the airport. And your work attire can be your bathing suit!

FP: And the hardest?

HB: Time differences. I was recently in San Francisco which is 8/9 hours behind Europe. I had to sleep with the phone glued to my ear and often set my alarm for 3am to check my emails. However, it’s a different story in Asia as you have the whole day before the emails start flooding in!

And as all freelancers will agree, those occasional job droughts can be scary and the extremely tight delivery deadlines are downright stressful.  I also miss having colleagues, that Friday feeling (but not the Monday morning one…) and after-work drinks! Still, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Thank you so much Helen for sharing you experience and insight with us. Bon voyage!

Helen Barlow is a traveling translator, budding travel writer and yogi who calls the whole world home. Her translation specialisms include travel & tourism, fashion, beauty, gastronomy, magazine journalism and cultural events.

To volunteer or not to volunteer: pros, cons and golden rules

By Felicity Pearce

For translators and interpreters, the question of volunteering can be a difficult one. There are always many (too many?) volunteering options available, but doing it simply to give back, without any further consideration, can put us in a vulnerable position.  We need to ensure it is worthwhile for us in terms of professional experience, and that it is not something the organization should be paying for.

The best option can be to volunteer through official channels, such as UNV or Translators without Borders, which will mean the validity of the need for a volunteer will have been checked and approved already. This means you are not providing a free service for an organization that will make a profit from your service, and also ensures you will receive official recognition for your collaboration, which will look good on your CV or when applying for membership with professional bodies.

Of course, deciding to take on pro-bono projects is always at our own discretion, so if a project comes along that really appeals, in terms of experience or networking, it can be worthwhile too.

Three reasons to volunteer:

  1. The warm, fuzzy feeling. We are very privileged to have the choice to work as freelancers and in a profession we are passionate about. Volunteering for me is a way of being thankful for the fortunate circumstances that have allowed me the education and opportunities that have got me here.
  2. Fantastic experience. As a translator, it can give you the opportunity to develop your specialism(s), and usually with great communication and feedback from the organization you are working with. For interpreters, it can even include free travel to an exotic location.
  3. Networking. It also helps build a larger network, and you never know where your next referral may come from…

Three rules for volunteering:

  1. Have a strategy. Assess how much time you can afford to dedicate to it and stick to that. Think about which areas and language combinations you are looking for. Decide what sort of organizations are most appealing and focus on a few. Taking on thousands of words on various topics and in five different language combinations will be much more work and will not help you to focus on your specialisms.
  2. Communicate. One of the best parts of working pro-bono is that the receiver of your work is usually grateful for your collaboration and respectful of the professional job you are doing, so they will be open to questions and suggestions with regard to the project (more like working with direct clients than agencies, we could say). Personally, I have established some great relationships through volunteer work.
  3. Be professional. It goes without saying, but just because you are not issuing an invoice, there is no reason for volunteer work to be anything but your usual high standard. Stick to workloads that can reasonably coexist with your paid work. There can often be more room to negotiate delivery dates at the beginning of the project, as the organization may have not worked with a translator before, for example. But when the details are agreed, a deadline is a deadline.

We’d love to know more about your volunteering experiences, good and bad – please feel free to share here!

Combining motherhood with freelance work

By Felicity Pearce

Freelancing. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it. When we have real jobs we idealise it and fantasise about it, but never have I been more grateful for steering my career in this direction than when I became a mother (which happened, incidentally, many years before I thought it would).

There are still many issues facing working parents, particularly mothers, so I wanted to make this a positive post, focusing on how it is easy to make it work for you when you’re a freelancer.

When my firstborn came into the world, an amazing thing happened. I became a superwoman. I always suspected this was how it was from watching my mother, but it’s true. What actually happens is that time becomes such a rare luxury that it is really appreciated and not wasted. I can get three people ready in the morning in the time it used to take me to shower and my productivity levels are not comparable with pre-mum me. It is sometimes a question of adapt or die, but I’m still here, and still translating! I admit that I can’t pull all-nighters anymore, but rather than staying up and working until 2am, I will go to bed early and rise before 5am, while the house is still quiet and my brain is fresh. In the two hours before the rest of the brood wake up, I can do more work than I used to do in a day (it’s the best time for proofreading!). And in summer I get the bonus of enjoying the truly magical light of the new day, (pre-mum me only ever saw this phenomenon before bed, during the Erasmus era).

Here is an example of how my use of time has changed:

  • Two hours pre-mum: faffing on Facebook, answering an email or two, making tea, reading some articles (start real work after 2-3 hours).
  • Two hours now: tidy house, put wash on, answer all emails, do invoices, translate for 1 hour.



But on the subject of adapting, I do now prefer working in cafes and other spaces (something Claire will expand on here later), just to get away from all the chores calling out to me at home. And I don’t take the crazy big and urgent jobs I used to, just in case an unglamorous emergency comes up.

I also know couples where the dad loves working from home. Whichever way around (or even both, if the relationship can take it!), freelancing is a great way to implement flexible parenting, especially if, as in our case, this parenting takes place in an expensive city like London and far away from free babysitting grandparents.

Oh, and bilingual/trilingual kids. #translatorsdoitbetter