A solitary job

Recently, my little routine has been shaken up. I’ve been interpreting more than usual, a friend has been destroying our bathroom (with a view to make it nicer) and I’ve even met colleagues from Brighton. It has been a shock to my system, as I’ve spent most of the last four years working on my own from home.
Solitude and isolation are big issues for freelance translators. It can be hard to motivate yourself when you don’t feel like working, there is no support structure to help you out in times of trouble and talking to one’s plants may become regular behaviour. People often tell me that they can’t understand how I can work every day on my own and that they couldn’t do it. I actually don’t mind it; I’ve got quite a hectic social life in the evenings and at weekends and I like immersing myself in my work with as little interruption as possible. I also like the fact that I don’t have to contend or adapt to other people’s way of working; I do everything the way I find more efficient and I have no-one else to blame when things don’t work out.
I do feel lonely at times, but there are ways to alleviate this: I chat online with a few buddies, there are lots of translators’ forums on the Internet and I have the odd lunch with a friend here and there. I am very happy with the latest developments on the work front as well: more interpreting means getting out and about and it was very nice meeting colleagues living in Brighton & Hove and being able to talk shop.
I sometimes go to a client’s office in London to finalise projects and I’m always amazed at how much people chat and walk around. However, I’ve now realised that it’s difficult to remain focused on your work when there are people around. In the last few days I’ve found myself drawn to the bathroom, even when it’s not time for one of my friend’s 4.2 cups of tea an hour. I like chatting and interacting with people so much that it’s probably a blessing that I don’t work in an office, or I’d be achieving very little. As a matter of fact, my work has been infinitely slower and this blog has certainly been neglected, just because of another person being here. So although freelancing probably isn’t for everyone, it certainly is the best option for me.

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:57+00:00 June 10th, 2004|Freelance Translation|5 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Johanka June 11, 2004 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this, Celine!
    I wonder if you could perhaps share some of your tricks that help you stay motivated when you don’t feel like working. 😉 I’m a beginning freelance translator and keeping myself motivated seems to be a much more painful issue to me than the feeling of loneliness.

  2. céline June 11, 2004 at 8:04 am

    Hi Johanka, I don’t really have tricks but a number of personality disorders that help me out.
    First and foremost, I have a phobia of tardiness, which means that however much I want to go roller-blading or slouch all day, the thought of delivering a job late panicks me so much that in the end, I’m happier working. I’ve also inherited a deep fear of poverty from my working-class upbringing, which means that I don’t feel comfortable turning down jobs (provided I know I can deliver in time), Euro 2004 on the telly or not. All this is helped by the fact that I really enjoy translating (I must do, with a bilingual blog as a hobby) and that I’m still very excited about my career; I hope it lasts.

  3. Jez June 12, 2004 at 10:53 pm

    Yes, it can be a lonely life as a freelancer. However, I infinitely prefer it to working in an office, with no daily commute, and although there is more scope for human interaction in the office, my last place was terrible. I had to put up with non-stop gossip, bitching and the minutaie of children’s lives from les poules with whom I had the misfortune of sharing breathing space.
    Now I find I’m on MSN Messenger a lot. And have you tried Skype? (essentially a P2P telephone service over the Internet – free).
    I also find it nigh on impossible to refuse work, which means I’m constantly working, which is good in a way, but doesn’t leave much scope for having a life beyond the computer!
    But I’m going to watch as much of Euro 2004 as I possibly can, including the France/England game. Although if France win, I shan’t be putting in much of an appearance on your blog for while 😛 (kidding)

  4. Andréas June 14, 2004 at 11:21 am

    Hi all
    I wonder if I could have some thoughts from freelancers on a personal and highly subjective matter.
    A lot of the people I know who freelance are attached, ie they have a long-term partner (gf/bf/wife/husband). Also, notably, many of them are relatively young, at an age where many of their peers are single or changing partners often.
    I have often wondered about this and it seems to be a chicken-and-egg situation. Which came first:
    – the stability in the emotional/love life that means you can dedicate more resources to work.
    – the ‘committing’ personality type,which applies to all aspects of life
    I would appreciate any insights or comments.
    PS I am non-freelance single translator but am working on both at the moment 🙂

  5. céline June 15, 2004 at 9:28 am

    Goodness, that’s a tricky question.
    Do freelancers have a certain personality type that means they’re more likely to hold on to their career and to a relationship? But don’t all jobs require a lot of commitment? I don’t think being in a long-term relationship has that much influence on your career. I think I’d be just as hard-working and committed to my job if I was single. And this is my first long-term relationship, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to belong to that “committed” group of people you mention!

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