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200,000 Translated Words Later (+ a Small Announcement)

“Mommy working”, Mark, December 2018

Last September’s tornado acted as a premonitory allegory of fall. As soon as the power was back on, there was no such thing as down time, there were not enough hours in the day and for the most part, it was absolutely awesome.

I had work, a lot of it. As a freelancer charging per word and per hour, I love these lucky weeks or months when suddenly, I seem to be the only resource available in the entire country.

A translator typically handles about 1,500 words per day and I’m guesstimating I must have translated around 200,000 words this season. Yet, I felt productive more often than overwhelmed. Several of my favourite clients trusted me with big projects on interesting topics. I think my efforts with these challenging and rewarding assignments were appreciated, so it was one of these win-win situations capitalism promises but usually fails to deliver.

I learned a lesson in my early thirties—ask for help and delegate before failing or burning out. I listened to my inner voice (the wise one) and last month, I enlisted one of my former project managers to proof the French-to-English project I was working on. She was awesome and she saved me a lot of time. I think it was another win-win situation for both of us—extra money for her, peace of mind for me.

From September to early December, I translated, edited and proofed seven days a week, only pausing to invoice and chase late payments. I stayed up way too late, worked way too much but it was worth it. I won’t always be this busy.

Meanwhile, life went on. French homework with Mark, his weekly swimming lessons, lunch box prep, dinner, household chores, etc.

I spent my “me time” at the gym, taking a different high-intensity training class five days a week. I loved every single minute of these sweaty hours—when you’ve been playing with words all day, being instructed to do push-ups, renegade rows and kettlebell swings and going through each set to failure is actually strangely relaxing.

I saw one of my closest friends a bit more often than before, we even spent Halloween together. A reader recognized me in the street and I also met Aylyon a few weeks ago when she came to Ottawa with her husband and kids.

Since late November, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone with my French family. Bad news, difficult times, events on which I have no control over—I’m just hoping I’m finding the right words to soothe my loved ones.

Every night, I pass out on my bed way too late wishing I could have done much more.

There’s one project I put on the back burner this fall—“author seeks publisher.” I should have sent another batch of query letters (I did send a few) but I felt completely drained after translating all day. I’m sure you know what I mean—if you have back-to-back meetings or if you’re teaching, you probably don’t feel like talking much when your workday is over. The same logic applies to writing and creative efforts.

I received three more rejections, two emails and one letter. They no longer hurt but they sting a bit.

There are many things I admire about the writing; the story is original and full of suspense, and the book appears to be very engaging. Unfortunately, we are only able to publish 3-4 books a year, and I believe your novel is intended for a different audience than the one we are trying to reach, so I’m sorry to say we’re not able to consider it further. I wish you the best of luck in finding a good home for your novel, and I look forward to seeing it on the shelves our our local bookstores in the future.

(Last rejection email received two days ago)

At this stage, I’m almost convinced my query efforts won’t pay off. I’m almost done going through the list of Canadian publishers and agents I made—the market isn’t that big here. I’m slowly starting to accept that my chances are extremely low, that I need help or connections to even be considered. Maybe I’m not dedicating enough time to querying. Maybe I’m not competitive enough. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

A few more regulars on the blog read the manuscript this fall. It made me happy because I like to tell stories and this is probably the best one I’ve ever shared.

I’m still not willing to try self-publishing road. I can’t handle this project alone. To me, it feels like building a house from scratch when I’m just looking for a bachelor apartment and a landlord willing to pick me as a tenant.

But there’s something I’d like to share with you—a short story I wrote this year.

It can be read in one setting (yay, reading material for your commute!), it’s free and… it’s fun.

I’ll post the description and download link tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Now available here: Second-Hand Dreams. Download it today!

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