balance · blogging · Christmas · creativity · fatigue · finding your way · freelance translation · freelancing · inspiration · projects · side projects · translation · writing · writing projects

An eye operation, a book, a fainting episode or saying goodbye to 2016

close up ragazza

 

It’s been a while I haven’t written on my blog. I kind of owe it to myself to write one last piece for the year about to end. Which translates to… trying to account for my mental whereabouts since April. I think I will just focus on the present.

First of all, I have a confession to make. I was thinking of abandoning this blog (and perhaps start a new one some time in the future) as I thought of blogging as an interference with everything else. That is why I haven’t written in 8 months. I gave priority to other things. And I got some pretty cool results, as you will find out if you patiently read along. I trust you will.

What did I learn from this blogging hiatus? Love for writing cannot be an interference with life. And when it does, you take a break.

Taking a break from writing has been impossible, though. The year 2016 has been a good one for me because I have finally finished and published my book Tapping Into Translators’ Creativity. Incredible. I did it. I got there, before the end of the year.

And this is one item off the list, my wish list, my writing wish list. The book is out for the world to read. That’s all I wanted. My exclusive relationship with the manuscript has ended.

A few days prior to the big day of my book’s release, my 7 year old went through an eye operation. I had hoped to avoid being busy with work before and after the operation and, fortunately, nothing major (that I could not manage) happened. Besides the book. I wanted the book to go live before the end of the year and considering it was impossible to have everything ready before December, it had do be right before Xmas and… a few days after the operation.

Theoretically speaking, being ready to publish isn’t exactly the best way to describe the end of a writing journey. The writing journey never ends. Right now, I am thinking of ways the book could be even better. But projects need a deadline and I gave me one.

I will make a tiny parenthesis here to say that in my book I speak of deadlines and of writers and translators. The writers featured in this respect are Tracy Chevalier who wrote her book Girl With a Pearl Earring on a 9-month (biological) deadline and Fyodor Dostoevsky who wrote The Gambler on a 1-month deadline because of an agreement he had with the publisher. Money problems. Inspiring stories we all need to know about. Us whose life is determined by deadlines.

And there I was at the hospital after the operation, fainting. Because of fear, of concern, of love. And because I have a low blood pressure. Let’s be realistic. I know what it means to go through an eye operation, as I went through one myself. But when it happens to someone so close to you, the feelings are just incomparable.

The nurses were nice to their patient (and to me). They gave me tea. I still need to arrange an appointment with my doctor to talk about this, when I am done with a couple of translations, when I am done with 2016. Here’s another deadline for me. See?

I wish you a happy new year and lots of interesting things to pursue!

branding · creativity · finding your way · freelancing

The Paradigm of Prince for Freelancers

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I can’t help myself from writing a few words about Prince. I admit I was shocked by his death. I loved his music and his style. However there are things about him I discovered only now. Things that were too strong not to write about.

This afternoon, instead of working on a translation due Tuesday, but it will do,  I spent some time reading articles about him and what happened, watching him perform old songs, listening to what Stevie Wonder and Van Jones had to say about their friend and other data “in the purple” that I need to sit and blend it all, to make sense of what Prince really stood for. Not just for the music world but for every creative.

Skipping the part that he was an incredibly charismatic musician, Prince represented what generosity should be like (he gave to charity without letting the world know about it) , he was a pioneer in branding, he was there for his friends when they needed him, he was doing a lot undercover and, as Van Jones said, This is a man much more than music, the music is an expression of a genius, so deep and profound that only music can express it, so much more than music, so much more.

And that is what clicked to me. “So much more“. And yet, what we know of Prince is his music and the love symbol representing him. We know him for the songs he wrote and sang and the pieces he wrote for others, including Nothing Compares to U, Manic Monday, Kiss and more. What lied underneath this marvelous human being has been revealed only after he passed away.

That’s amazing. That’s honourable. That’s what one would expect from someone who was modest enough not to talk about the good things he did for other people.

If you run a freelance business today – for which you need tremendous creativity – chances are you have asked yourself questions about your online presence, what you should say, do, what social media you should use and why, how you should communicate your achievements to gain more credibility, how you should talk about things, what to leave out, whether you should join the crowd and more. At least, with all full honesty, I have personally been “massacring” my brain with thoughts of this kind until I realised it’s no use. One thing at a time. Appearance is not priority number one. Yes, I know it is wise to have a brand and to be visible and I understand the reasons but I opted to take things easy. I am all for finding ways to establish a viable business within a competitive world but I realise that image counts only if there is an essence and a heart behind it. And if there is no image and you have the heart, no need to be concerned that something is missing. I know of many freelancers with simple sites or blogs who are doing really well without a brand. I guess they are doing something right.

Prince was an icon. However, what we saw about him was an expression of who he was, his essence, his humanity and charisma. He became an icon because of his charisma.

No matter what one might say about his fierce beliefs on copyright, as a true creative, I would give him credit. The passion for your art somehow entitles you to want to protect it. The love symbol #2 (more of a business maneuver than an intentional branding tactic), clearly illustrates that art comes first. Symbols follow. Which translates to… a lesson to learn about our own work and contribution to the industry we are offering services to.

Let us ponder on quality, on becoming better and the rest will follow.

M.

image credit: By Micahmedia at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13466179

creativity · motivation · music · paraphrasing lyrics · translators

Made of stars

As I am trying to wrap up a hair product translation for which I found myself navigating through a plethora of hair-styling sites and emailing a Greek hair care specialist, I need to stop to write this.

You might have heard of The Open Mic founded by Dmitry Kornyukhov), a breakthrough blogging platform for translators and translation professionals. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check it out now. This is the first time that translators get together and call the shots without being “conditioned” by the big players of the translation industry. If someone knows about translation work, bare and real, it’s those who stay up all night to meet deadlines to pay rents, bills, loans, coffee packs. I think that The Open Mic has potential and what I feel like saying is that Dmitry has proved to be a creativity star.

What I got to share with you today is inspired by the origami stars created by Kozue MacMichael, a lovely, warm-hearted and amazingly creative colleague I had the opportunity to e-meet recently through my course.

As I was looking at the little shiny origami stars she made for The Open Mic here, my mind flew to a song by Moby and – you know me – when I connect the dots, something unusual occurs! Which translates to...a book, a post, another idea for an article or skipping lunch, to name some effects of creativity. In this case, it’s paraphrasing lyrics. This is not the first time I do this and believe me, I don’t want to be “labeled” as someone who paraphrases lyrics but I guess I will take my chances.

(few changes have been made to the lyrics)

We Are All Made Of Stars

Growing in numbers
Growing in speed
Trying to shape up the future
Trying to create what to see

Translators they come together
Theories they fall apart
No one can stop us now
‘Cause we are all made of stars

Efforts of others
Left in my mind
I sing in the reaches
We’ll see what we find

Translators they come together
Theories they fall apart
No one can stop us now
‘Cause we are all made of stars

Slow slow slow, come come
Someone come come come
Even translation is goin’ ’round
You can’t ignore what is goin’ ’round

Slowly rebuilding
I feel it in The Open Mic
Growing in numbers
Growing in peace

Translators they come together
Theories they fall apart
No one can stop us now
‘Cause we are all made of stars


Translators they come together
(Translators they come together)
Theories they fall apart
(Theories they fall apart)
No one can stop us now
(No one can stop us now)
‘Cause we are all made of stars
(We are all made of stars)

We are all made of stars
Translators they come together
We are all made of stars
(Theories they fall apart)
We are all made of stars
(No one can stop us now)
‘Cause we are all made of stars
(We are all made of stars)

 

Original lyrics here

branding · creativity · inspiration · music · translators

For Olatz Rodriguez

I didn’t know Olatz in person but I came across her on Twitter. She was one of those translators I considered highly creative and with a passionate story to tell. People give you signs that if you interpret them wisely and with an open mind you just know there are things you share in common.

Olatz was tremendously creative. It was easy to see by her brand name: Transolatzion, a mix of her first name Olatz and Translation. I am stunned by how translators are creative and she was a glowing example. It couldn’t be more personal than that. If your brand is you, Olatz gave us a great example to be inspired from.

I assume that the beautiful handwritten fonts on her site were designed by her.

I was shocked when I read that she died. And I even sent a direct message to one of the girls who shared the devastating news to find out what happened to this girl of an angelic face and wise eyes.

I can’t even imagine the pain and shock her beloved ones might feel. She was only 23! I repeat: 23 years old.

As I wanted to somehow write about Olatz on the blog, I went over to her site and discovered that she had a YouTube Chanel. I would like to share with you a little video by Olatz. She is playing Nothing Else Matters.

Let us all learn from her departure. Let us embrace our future and go after our dreams. Olatz was teaching English language to children in China when she passed away. That was the story she somehow tried to tell the world. Your dreams are out there. Nothing else matters.

M.

PS: For Spanish speakers: Marie Claire Cruz has dedicated a post for her colleague here. Also football player Aritz Elustondo dedicated a goal to Olatz.

 

 

beauty · creativity · finding your way · inspiration · motivation · writing

3 Italian holiday locations for writers and translators

Hi everyone,

As I was talking with a friend the other day who wants to visit Italy, I thought it would be a good idea to write that travel post I have been thinking of.

Italy is not just about Venice, Florence, Rome. Places that, of course, I recommend everyone to visit because they are just spectacular.

What about an authentic break to nourish your writing soul? A holiday that has nothing to do with waiting in line to see the Uffizi, the San Marco Basilica in Venice or the Vatican museum? Isn’t that just too stressful?

A break to help you finish your novel, start afresh, overcome writer’s block, get ideas for a new book or simply take a break from an intense year of translating or writing, or meet people. Which translates to… staying in a place that you would usually be passing by or perhaps still haven’t heard of.

I am quickly illustrating three Italian towns from three different regions in Northern Italy hoping to offer you some off the beaten track ideas for a relaxing and inspiring getaway.

What these locations have in common? The water! One of them is inside a lagoon and the other two by the lake!

Chioggia

(Veneto)

Canal Vena in Chioggia

Not all Italian houses that float on water are in Venice! But they can definitely be close to the world’s most unique city on water. Chioggia is in the Veneto region of Italy. A medium-sized fishing port inside the Venetian lagoon offering easy access to the Adriatic sea. Find out 17 things about this little promising town on the Virtual Tourist here. On a more personal note, I always buy fresh fish from this town whenever it is available and it is just delicious and nutritious. Fish is the word.

Varenna

(Lombardy)

Colourful Varenna on Lake Como

Highly recommended for inspiration and romantic strolls, Varenna on Lake Como, is a special, picturesque little village definitely worth seeing if you are visiting Lombardy. Combine it with an excursion to Menaggio and Bellagio and you will not be let down by the sheer beauty and elegance of the place. Varenna’s uniqueness is summarised in the title of a post I fished out called Varenna, Italy: Lake Como Without the Glitz. 

Stresa

(Piedmont)

View to Isola Bella from Stresa.

The queen of Lake Maggiore, Stresa is just breathtaking. Nothing more, nothing less. You will be inspired by those fabulous classy hotels, the impeccable and simply mesmerising beauty of Lake Maggiore dominated by the Borromean Islands – with Isola Bella being the most famous one. Find info on Visit Stresa site. An interesting fact of interest to writers is that Stresa hosts the Stresa Literature Award.

To write you don’t need to travel of course but if you want to do it the right way, think of places that are stress-free and help you breathe new air and be who you are. My suggestion? Don’t go there alone. Arrange it with other like-minded people like a sort of retreat.

M.

balance · creativity · fatigue · freelancing · lost in translation · mom · Summer

4 Summer dishes for busy freelancers

I never thought I would write about food but nutrition is important especially for freelancers who often find themselves having to skip meals to meet deadlines. Not to mention, not getting enough sleep…

So let’s just call this post off-topic or slightly off-topic or even a nice roundabout way to get some fresh tips for those of us (most of us? all of us?) who will be working their butts off this Summer. Frankly speaking, I am booked only till the first week of June but my memory serves me well: July has always been busy as hell. Which translates to…. rolling my sleeves up, smiling. Work is always welcome.

Today, I want to share 4 ideas for quick, fresh and healthy (the souvlaki isn’t exactly known for being healthy but it’s definitely a tasty addition to the mix) that people who work from home might find intriguing to try out before continuing to hit keys while everyone else is enjoying their mojito, swimming, soaking up some sun, having fun, dancing under the moon.

You know. The usual stuff you hear or read about while you work on a deadline in the hot days of Summer.

Now let’s treat that freelancing palate:

1. Wilted Kale and Coconut salad

I can’t hide my passion for coconuts and exotic fruits. Apples are okay if they are Granny Smith and oranges are great when you drink a fresh juice but I prefer coconuts, pineapples and avocados. Another fruit I really like is watermelon but only if it’s particularly sugary. For an interesting way to use coconut in a dish, I find this recipe very interesting. Not just delicious but seems it’s a salad that can fill you up. I haven’t tried it to be honest but I would love to.

2. Prosciutto Crudo with Melon

This is a typical Italian starter but when it’s hot, it’s cool. I mean, it’s a pretty cool idea as it combines the nutrients of meat with the freshness of fruit. To make this, all it takes is some creativity as there isn’t an actual recipe. The secret is a fabulous presentation so before starting to wonder where goes what, google “prosciutto e melone” and get inspired. You can also make skewers like these here!

3. Spinach and Feta Cheese pie using puff pastry

So easy to make if you buy a ready-made pasta sfoglia (puff pastry) and fill it with sprinkled feta cheese, add the spinach, some olive oil, no salt, pepper and parsley, wrap in the form of an envelope and cook for 15-20 minutes according to your oven. You can do variations of the theme by just making feta cheese pie or add more greens. I have found this recipe on You Tube that I recommend you watch. The process seems to be the ideal one. Go for it and let me know.

4. Souvlaki aka Small Skewers of Pork

Souvlaki is for all seasons. If marinated and grilled properly – and provided the meat is of excellent quality – it will make you drool (and go book a holiday in Greece). It’s vital that you let the skewers marinate overnight and that you grill them well. First 10-15 minutes on high flame on both sides, then lower the fire and keep turning them around. Cook them well, letting them become dark brown around the edges. Follow this recipe here.

Buon appetito!

M.

image credit popsugar.com

beauty · creativity · culture · fashion · translation

Cosmetics: Translating for a beautiful yet demanding industry

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Dear all,

Another quick post between deadlines and amidst dreams of a holiday on a Greek island (not happening) or any other nice place even for just three days. Which translates to… I should be taking that much needed long break away from the computer screen.

I recently started working with a client in the beauty industry and I must admit I have often found myself surfing the net looking and cross-checking terms that obviously are to be found on beauty, fashion and make-up sites. IATE and Linguee excluded. The more I translate or review texts for a variety of beauty products, the more I realise how challenging and intriguing it is to recreate the wording in Greek.

These are the difficulties I encountered:

  • The Greek wording for beauty products tends to call for action orientated more towards emotion and a bit less on facts. Information is provided but it is kept to the basics. On the other hand, the description in Italian covers both aspects. On Italian fashion and beauty brand sites there seems to be more accuracy and details when describing a product, what its benefits are and how to make the best out of it, whereas Greek sites tend to focus a lot more on the result and the final impact. Maybe I am wrong but this is the vibe I am getting so far.
  • The writing style is quite different. Most Italian beauty sites express the concept of a product in a more formal tone than the sites in Greek. The Italian wording is clear, powerful and emotional but at the same time there is a lot of explaining. Nothing is missed. Actually there is sometimes “more” than necessary with repetitions that you will not find either on the English or Greek version of a given product.
  • Not all multilingual beauty sites are available in Greek. This means that some of the terms I look up are not always easily found and I need to go in various round about ways to determine the right or best possible translation. Good cosmetics sites include Maybelline, Pupa and Chanel.

And this is what I do:

  • Translate as accurately and as faithfully as possible by making sure that nothing is missed or overlooked while giving emphasis to rewriting the text as if it was written for the Greek audience. What sounds clear and neat in Italian could potentially sound “stiff” and even irrelevant in the target language. This is one pitfall one should be cautious of.
  • Mediate between the two writing styles, between the formal and more accurate way of the Italian source text and the more creative and capturing style that I know that people in Greece (or who read Greek) would expect to read.
  • Ask the client should something is not clear. This is a practice to follow in all cases anyway but it is always a pleasure to see that clients are willing to support a translator’s work.
  • Read more beauty and fashion sites in Greek and Italian and subscribe to interesting newsletters so that news from this industry get right into my inbox. Some valuable sites in Greek are MadameFigaro, real.gr, jenny.gr.

Conclusion:

Things you really enjoy doing can sometimes prove to be particularly demanding. There is a lot of beauty inside “difficult packages”, after all.

M.

creativity · finding your way · projects · side projects · writing projects

Some thoughts on how to shape your ideas into projects

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Dear all,

These last few days were pretty creative. Not hectic but creative and with small and diverse projects. I am working on a small fashion translation (into Greek) for one of my favourite Italian brands, whereas the one I delivered last week was about parenting. What’s more: today my colleague Ela and I announced the launch of the Translators / Creators project which I will be presenting on the blog soon because it deserves a whole post.

Today I want to share some thoughts on projects and ideas.

The more I write and the more I elaborate my favourite topics, the more I am enthralled by how these ideas and topics can evolve.

It would seem that for every idea, there is an appropriate project, a potential transformation into something more concrete and meaningful both for you and for others.

That is how I came up with the course “How to find the right business side project (and allocate time to it”)”.

I was not aware that what I was doing was taking an idea (time management) elaborating it (through personal experience with a side project) and finalising it with the creation of a course.

Since the day I started working on the course, a lot of “side project” work has been taking place! The course itself, as I mentioned here is inspired by the challenges of freelancing. But there is more. A lot of the ideas in the course sprung from the Translators / Creators project aka #xl8cr8 I mentioned before.

But I want to take a step further and look at the “ideas to projects” process.

1. Solutions (projects) are practically right under our nose. You just have to keep your eyes open. The other day I was over to a translator’s website and I saw what has been there all the time “under my nose”. I then Ianded on the website (through WordPress reader) of another translator and my “idea” just clicked. I connected the two “dots” and I think I am getting closer to shaping my ideas with a view to create the projects I am so much looking forward to.

2. Some ideas have a limited potential but they can still be pursued. For me, this is what I have been experiencing with slogan contests. Writing taglines for a wide spectrum of companies is good exercise for a creative mind but they are not what I would call a real diversification for a linguist or writer. It can only be “shapeable” into something bigger if you work in a creative company that provides this type of service along with marketing and campaign material for their clients. Or if you become famous for writing Pepsi’s tagline. But they have a team for that.

3. For every idea, there is the right project. Start writing down your thoughts and you will see whether they are “shapeable” into something bigger or not. I have found out that writing and putting your thoughts on paper, shows you whether there is a “dead end” or not. I think that most ideas have the potential to be shaped into a project or similar but perhaps not as big as you want it to be. For example, an inspirational phrase can be limited to a quote you can use for your site to attract clients, to share with friends on social media or it can be elaborated for a book or become a chapter of a book.

4. Work on your ideas until you see them materialise. Today I started making notes for a new course in an Excel sheet (that was awkward). Of course at some point, I decided to move everything into PowerPoint. Something unpredictable happened. The course idea developed just because it acquired a new “setting”. I added and removed lots of little clouds, boxes and arrows and I am getting there. And even if I don’t, at least I have taken a step forward. On top, I recalled another idea I had kind of archived in my mind and created another slide. I will try not to be confused but working on more than one project is fine with me.

5. The “idea to projects” process is only a fragment of the bigger picture. I realised this as I was making the draft of the course with the clouds and arrows I was telling you about before. Sometimes you need to start from “thinking small” in order to wake up and see that your ideas or even your projects are only a means to something greater and more meaningful. This means getting out of your comfort zone and into a new zone, a new dimension.

6. Trendsetters are go getters. Talking of a new dimension, have you seen the film “Interstellar”? That “5th dimension” had a bit of an impact on me. What we are currently witnessing in the digital world is bound to fade away and loose its initial charm while going out of fashion. Those who have had a tremendous success are the trendsetters and the early adopters (usually with the funds but not always). It is a wise to learn from the best but it is wiser to tap into what could evolve into the adoption of a new idea.