Perfect English, now available in French
May 15, 2013
There’s a lot going on in my new new office. You can learn everything from accounting, French, maths, Greek literature, mechanics, and of course, this being Brighton, a lot of yoga and reiki and the like. “New new office”? I hear you wonder. Well, yes. I’ve moved again. You see, when you’re looking for a place to set down your computer and your favourite mug, it is crucial that you take your time to think about what you need and want from it in order to make the right decision. True to form, I didn’t. I saw an office and loved its modern, funky space and its location right in the middle of my favourite area of Brighton, I really liked the people, so I just got enthused and acted rashly, as I’m known to do, and took it.
I lasted four weeks. What I didn't consider was that the space was occupied by two different companies with people constantly on the phone and having meetings, and that this is actually a bit of a problem for a translator who needs to concentrate for hours on end to come up with pretty translations.
Thankfully, at the same time, four good friends were also looking for office space, and they found Brighton Junction, which I immediately loved (uh oh), and has proved to be absolutely perfect (phew). The building houses a coworking space with around 40 desks, more offices upstairs, and the friends’ centre, an adult education organisation. This means that it's a busy, buzzy place, filled with a wide variety of people coming to learn about all sorts of things, and our quieter shared office has a great mix of freelancers who make the right amount of studious noise.
The lesson of this story (which I will do my best not to ignore next time I am in a similar situation): think about what you want out of an office space and don't let secondary concerns, like a great area and pleasing architecture, drive your decision, when what matters is that it allows you to do your work in the best possible conditions.
April 19, 2013
Was it really January last time I blogged? Even though my reappearance coincides with the arrival of a late and tentative spring, I didn’t go into hibernation in protest at a ridiculously harsh winter. In fact, I’ve been out a lot, taking in the rain, the freezing cold, the snow, the hail and whatever else the British weather decided to throw at me. Freelancers talk a lot about the famed work/life balance and how they struggle to get it right, and in my case, the balance swung wildly from “work” to “life” when I discovered golf and found that I absolutely had to play as often as I possibly could.
This is not to say that I’ve neglected my work. Deadlines have been met, and files have been duly translated from English into French, and clients didn’t notice any change in the way I dealt with their projects, but something had to give, and my online activities had to take a back seat while my new offline passion flourished. I’m fully aware that I’ve gone over the top, and that to succeed, all freelancers need to constantly work on marketing their services, but this is only temporary: the days are getting longer, and soon I’ll be able to play after a full day’s work, which will include looking after this blog and my Twitter and Facebook accounts, which are my favourite networking platforms. After a few months of putting the “free” back in freelancing, I will be redressing the balance and dedicate more time to the long-term health of my career. Soon.
January 31, 2013
I have a love/hate relationship with interpreting. During and after a job, I love it. Before that, I hate it. I stress over it. Have I prepared thoroughly enough? Will there be someone with an impenetrable Glaswegian accent? I’m just not good enough and everyone will know it!! Those are the thoughts that plague me. And last week, I was asked to interpret in a booth with another interpreter. As I have no experience of working in a booth and I didn’t want to let my client down, I told him that they should find someone else. He flatly refused and insisted he wanted me to do it. Flattery is a weapon that I just have no defences against, so I accepted.
I was lucky enough to work with an excellent and experienced interpreter, who showed me how the booth worked and explained how to perform a mid-talk relay: simultaneous interpreting is extremely taxing, so we were 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. When it was my turn to speak, I realised that far from being an intimidating environment, the booth is actually the most comfortable space you can be in: you have access to volume controls, you can mute your microphone, you can have all your reference documents and consult the Internet if necessary, and you’re in a quiet environment, with just the speaker’s voice to focus on. And of course, you’re working with someone else, and I love team sports. It was great.
At the end of the first session, my colleague congratulated me on doing well on my first “sim”. I replied that it wasn’t the first time I’d done simultaneous interpreting (I’ve interpreted in many meetings, in a helicopter, on mountains of rubbish, on a tractor, on a boat and in various waste management facilities), but she told me that what I’d done before, with a microphone and headsets for the audience, was, in the industry, known as “bidule”, interpreting done with audio equipment, but without a booth. It could be literally translated by “thingy”, and I’m really not sure what the English equivalent might be.
So as well as learning some new industry jargon, I’m really pleased that I got over my little boothphobia, and I’m looking forward to my next interpreting challenge.
December 13, 2012
This morning I learnt a new word: calving. Nothing to do with cows, all with glaciers giving birth to icebergs. I generally don't like the very overused word "awesome", but this video is... awesome. I can't wait to see Chasing Ice.
December 4, 2012
I haven’t shared any new translation and interpreting-related blogs in a while, mainly because these days, there are so many of them that I already struggle to follow the better ones. However, I thought I’d share two that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently. The first one is a new discovery: it’s not a blog, but a tumblr called A good speech a day keeps the doctor away and illustrates life as an interpreter through gifs. It’s hilarious.
The second has been a bit of a surprise. When my friend Beth went off to spend a year in Sri Lanka working with Volunteer Work Abroad (VSO) as an occupational therapist specialising in mental health and announced that she was going to write a blog, I expected to enjoy following her adventures, but I couldn’t have anticipated quite how brilliantly she’d convey her new life. Some of her posts are relevant to anyone who has had to adapt to life in a foreign country and learn a new language, particularly Lost in translation’s murky waters, Falling down a hole, In praise of my penguin and my favourite, Gremlins, monkeys and mischievous spirits, where she realises quite how tricky interpreting can be.
Photo of Sri Lankan elephants by Beth
December 18, 2012
Bright, airy office in central location with excellent transport links
In the new year, I’ll be changing office again, as the company from which I’ve been hiring a desk for the last two years is moving to London.
I used to be wary of change, but after 7 years and 4 different offices, I’ve learnt that moving to a different work environment every two years or so can be a great opportunity to meet different people, open new doors and learn new things. I’ve made friends in all but one of the shared offices that I’ve worked in, and I’ve learnt invaluable lessons from the designers, writers, geeky types, market researchers, environmentalists, Internet gurus and other freelancers (including another translator!) I’ve worked alongside.
So I’m looking forward to the next step in my coworking life. At the moment, after two years in a small (but lovely) space with just 3 other people, I quite fancy a busier, buzzier environment, meeting new people, making new contacts, and enriching my professional network. But then there's also the possibility of sharing a beautiful office with four very good friends, who I met in my very first coworking space back in 2005. Not many people can say that they get to enjoy spending every day in the warmth and mutual support
and occasional intense irritation enjoyed by close friends, and it's a privilege that I find difficult to eschew, even if this will restrict my networking opportunities. Anyway, we shall see.
In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my holidays. Have a great end of year everyone.
December 13, 2012