Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

One Peril of the Publishing Industry:

Lead time.

There's that expression that goes: "Hurry up and wait." That is the publishing industry, from an author or translator's perspective.

You hurry up to get that manuscript to your editor...and then wait nine months to see it in print.

You get super stressed about finishing it, and tweaking it to perfection, and you're so excited/relieved when you finally do...only to put all that excitement on hold for the marketing push next season.

Or even before contracts are signed, you translate a new sample or write a new story as fast as you can to send out to all the magazines and literary journals and agents that you can...and then try not to sit around waiting for the response to hit your inbox, because it won't come for a very long time.

Then, when everything's done and you're finally ready to share your work with the world, and accolades start coming're not allowed to publicize the reviews until they get published, which could be days or weeks after you're notified about them.


In my younger days in a children's chorus, we worked with a wonderfully eccentric performance artist. At lunch one day, he got everybody's attention, because he wanted to share a poem with us. "It's called, 'Waiting,'" he said. He cleared his throat. Exhaled slowly. Gazed at the ceiling in preparation. Took a sip of water. Made eye contact with every single person gathered around the table. Stood up. Straightened his vest, brushed the crumbs off of his vest. Planted his feet in a firm stance. Clasped his hands in front of him. Took a deep breath.

And bowed, to giggles and a rapid crescendo of applause.

That was it. And it's the only poem I remember in its entirety from before age 15.

Hurry up and wait.