The many faces of Tilda Swinton (on freelancer’s versatility)

Tilda Swinton from the film “Only lovers left alive.”

“Tilda Swinton is 55 years old”. This is the title of the article I was reading last night. As I was scrolling the incredibly diverse pictures from movies with the Scottish actress, famous for her role as Orlando, I realised I had something to write about. I had no idea what but Tilda’s “many faces” are bound to give me ideas.

I remember reading a stunning article on The Guardian a few years ago, before becoming a translator. It was about the talented, intriguing and unusual Tilda Swinton, actress, model, icon of noble descent with looks and gaze of a solemn, aristocratic yet familiar character, both a woman of next door and a lady to respect. What sets her apart is that singular chameleontic appearance, a self which seems to float between characters, a person of many layers and faces, yet as authentic as one can be.

Life is bound to throw circumstances at you which you might not expect. You might need to shift your focus. Learn your lesson. Read a new book. Finish the one you started. Not to mention continue writing the one you started. Which translates to… an overwhelming loose ends to take care of.

Keeping up appearances is old school. And it is boring. I’d go for a change of direction even if it is on terms of how I perceive life’s events and challenges. I still wear the same outfit. But I wear it with a new conscience. State of mind. I elaborate what happens to me and I don’t want to convince anyone about the changes. I change. The many faces I have are basically one face reflecting an acknowledged and essential versatility.

Many faces means many resources for better life management.

As freelancers, we ought to be as flexible as we can possibly be. This applies not just to how we communicate and work but to how we perceive things and what we learn from life. The learning process requires flexibility. You need to “bend” your convictions if you want to move forward.

Flexibility requires you to act and be someone else so you can be yourself. You are the administrator, the translator, the proofreader, the business owner, the cook, the parent. It is a process.

Happy birthday Tilda Swinton!

Dreaming of translation

I had a dream last night. I decided to write about it before I forget it. A translator had died. Don’t worry. I read somewhere that if you dream of death, it means exactly the opposite.

Here’s what I recall from the dream:

Lots of translators were gathered in a living room to hear the Eulogy for the translator who passed away. The speaker was… a teacher of my kid’s! Well, it was only a dream.

Which translates to… experiencing some collateral effects from translating.

The eulogy had began. As one of us was crying, the handkerchief turned hot and the tears became solid. The little “pearls”, too hot to touch, were being shown around to spread the news of the miracle. Our “dead” translator was alive.


image source

A freelancing mom’s interlude

September is almost over. Oh and I heard that Summer was here too. Did you see it by any chance?

People love Summer. I think I like it too but it puts my life into derail mode that I am not exactly looking forward to it, besides for wearing shorts, tees and sandals. I am not much of a Winter fan either but being a homebody, I am okay with rainy and cold days. When you freelance, you don’t really care about the weather. Well, maybe you could be a little bit jealous of those who take holidays without fearing of losing clients (now, try to explain that…). It gets worse if you freelance full-time including weekends because you have a rent or mortgage to pay.

Which translates to… an overwhelming freelance lifestyle.

The truth is I don’t have time to write a blog post these days but a few days back one evening while listening to Else Gellinek’s podcast interview with Paul Urwin, I said to myself: You can do this. Go and finish up that post you drafted.

Right. Where was I?

The Summer.

Work wise it was busy with only a few “clouds” of urgent projects lasting a couple of days due to a fashion translation which proved to be more tricky than it seemed, though definitely more fun than anything else!

But in July and August this year I also received some translation requests impossible to accept. Out of the new prospects who contacted me this Summer, I only accepted new assignments on the grounds of feasibility, reasonable rates and subject-matter.

During the Summer holidays when the schools (or kindergartens or day-care centres) are closed, when teachers take time-off for the whole Summer while being paid for it (sorry, had to vent about this), us freelancing parents need to find solutions for combining work and having our kids around.

The options vary according to your family’s needs and of course financial status but if there is another female figure in your family (usually your mom or mother-in-law) who can give a helping hand, it makes everything a lot easier. Actually it is a blessing and not just because of the baby-sitting involved.

If you live abroad, you simply pack your luggage and move your office to your parents’ house with your children. However, having a female figure around to help you all year round or throughout the holidays, is not feasible for all freelancing parents. Regardless of whether living grandparents live next door or in another country, if they can’t help or if they are not around (anymore), there is little you can do.

What’s a freelancing parent to do?

This Summer I chose a combination of options:

  • Sent little one to Summer camp for one week
  • Accepted assignments that were important and turned down offers that I saw no potential in
  • Worked on the staircase of our building facing the courtyard, while watching my kid play
  • Stayed with friends in a town by the sea for a few days

I must admit that the most exhausting part was not working on the steps of the staircase, even if I did get a sore back for a few days. It was staying with other people. Exhausting in the sense that besides working, I needed to pay more attention to my 5 year old who needed to adapt to an entirely new environment.

In fact, these new surroundings have shed a light on my own parenting strategy in some areas like working towards better discipline and respecting a parent’s need to be (talk) with others without interruptions. There is always room for improvement. Staying with my friend was a wise holiday alternative at this point of my child’s life. I may not have been able to tour Tuscany because when my translation was delivered, sunny days were over (can you believe it?), but my revamped parenting style might help towards achieving greater balance and less stress.

Before I go, I have a tip for future moms. Please understand me. It is given with love.

Running a business from home with children is a truly rewarding experience but it’s hard work. Therefore, before jumping head and feet into it, you may need to consider that one of the risks of having kids, especially nowadays when women have kids at a later age or when women live away from their parents, is related to raising your children without your mother or mother-in-law. If she lives in another country, you need to consider that in times of real need, she might not be there, whereas, throughout the Summer staying at your parents’ or mom’s house might not be a holiday option for you. Imagine if your parents’ house is in a huge and stressful city very far from the beach or if they go away on holiday too. What’s more, if your baby is small (not a newborn) and is not used to being with his grandmother and other people, it might be difficult to focus on work without being interrupted all the time. One way to prevent this is to visit your parents’ house more often. The attachment of a baby to his mother all year round is a lot greater when there is no grandma around. At least, this is what I think and of course I might be wrong.

Notwithstanding everything, parents have powers they only realise while raising their children. They can miraculously handle lack of sleep, impatient children, activities, overlapping deadlines meaning that they can become really good at freelancing.

***Like it? Share it. Have something to get off your chest too? Share it! Also feel free to send me a personal email at mgdp05 (at) gmail (dot) com in case you want to vent off-line).***

picture: Woman at the Virginal Jan Miense Molenaer 1630 – 1640

My write-up for the Sept/Oct 2015 ITI Bulletin

Hi everyone,

I am happy to let you know that I wrote a piece for the ITI Bulletin, featured in the latest September/October 2015 issue. Which translates to… my first writing piece published on paper (if you exclude a couple of articles I wrote for a magazine and a newspaper back home in my early 20s).

The topic of this article is diversification for which I wrote previously here. The idea has been percolating in my mind recently and finally took shape with this article (page 16 of the issue if I am not mistaken). It is inspired by Steve Jobs’s “connecting the dots” theory and the importance of asking questions.

The power of introspection through words is absolutely cathartic, revealing and …educative.



PS: You may share your views and thoughts here if you happen to read the article.


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