Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Rise and shine!

Wake up, blog, it's a new day! Birds are singing, bacon is sizzling in the pan, and...wow, we've been a long time dormant and asleep. My apologies.

Long story short, translating a book happened. And then a well-deserved vacation. Although it wasn't planned in that order, it just happened to work out that way.

Another long story short, the translation was probably the single hardest thing I've ever had to do, besides possibly move to France and teach children English for a year without knowing anything. I learned a lot. Quite a bit. Huge amounts. Volumes and mountains. And of course, I will be recounting these on this blog in the coming days and weeks (partially for the wider internet world, partially to make sure I don't make the same mistakes twice).

For now, a quick tidbit: connections matter. Sometimes, they're fun to make. So when I have seven hours in Paris between arriving by train and departing by plane, and the author of the book I just finished translating just so happens to live in the Paris area, and plans are made in advance, I get to meet said author for lunch. At Angelina. Where their chestnut-flavored, creme-de-marron-filled Mont Blanc reminds me of Ardèche, my former (once and future?) home, where chestnuts are the local specialty...

She's lovely, by the way. The author. Fascinating woman.

A croissant a day keeps procrastination away

And thus, the third week of working from home draws to a close.  It's a tricky transfer, from a 9-5 office job to working from home for yourself.  Habits to form and reform, trying to figure out what schedule (or lack thereof) will keep you on track the longest, trying to avoid the homemade Oreo vanilla ice cream in the freezer...

One of my biggest problems is a lack of variety.  Sometimes I can sit at my computer, windows open, music on in the background, working for anywhere between 20 minutes and four hours before I just...can't anymore.  Getting up and stretching doesn't work.  Sitting at the piano for ten minutes doesn't work.  A light snack doesn't work.  Calling my mother to chat doesn't work (and is usually more distracting).  A quick reading break devolves into hours on the couch.  So what is a poor freelancer to do?

To each his own, of course, but my strategy to refocus involves going to a local French cafe with Wifi.  It's something about being surrounded by just enough activity that my brain isn't allowed to wander.  I buckle down and work, consistently, for as long as I need to.

But -- monkey wrench! -- such a plan involves spending money.  A croissant, a cafe au lait, a limonade, a quiche...even one a day starts adding up.  Now, I am all for supporting local businesses with my wallet, but when my wallet is pretty trim to begin with, there's not a lot of support I can give.  Rationing must occur.

Then, oh the dilemma!  What if I was just at the cafe yesterday, but it's now 2pm and I've been staring at my computer without getting any work done for three hours because I can't focus?  Does the croissant money justify the productivity?

Well, yes.  As a matter of fact, it does.  Even if I'm not specifically working on a paying job whilst at the cafe, any work I do will lay the groundwork for a paying job.  It's replying to an email and keeping in touch with a PM.  It's updating my website.  It's working on a short story translation for a possible magazine publication.  It's updating my online Rolodex.  All useful things.

Definitely worth the croissant.