Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Taking Out the Trash

Apparently there are writer-translators who either write or translate at one time. I don't have much of a problem finding a balance between the two. Although I do find my attention pulled away from one toward the other all the time. No matter what.

But as a writer-translator I find it next to impossible to do other tasks while I'm walking the tightrope of that hyphen. Tasks that might at least make it appear as if I were a functioning person. Tasks such as shredding.

When Wisława Szymborska was asked why her artistic production was so low compared to other poets she replied, "Because I fucking know how to use a trash can." At least this is my translation of her overly-mild reply. For me, the shredder is my best editor. I wonder if I could've just called it my "shredditor"?

Nine months of drafts piled up in my office closet. Nine months' worth of junk mail and paid bills and documents for my eyes only. Nine months since I last shredded. I spent 2½ hours this morning shredding. My fingers have that "having touched too much paper" quality about them now: chapped with hints of strange inky smells.

I submitted my translation of Robert Rient's Witness to my publisher on May 31 after spending almost a full nine months working on it full time. I'm a slow, terribly slow, translator. But I was writing during this time as well: interviews, essays, very few blog posts.

For the past eight days I've struggled a bit trying to find my writing legs again. I find myself now stressing the first two syllables of writer-translator. Especially since one of my friends (also a writer-translator) told me to stop wasting my time with other people's writings and write my own damn books. At least this is my translation of her overly-mild admonition. I may be slow but I'm thorough. And I'll always add profanity. Because why the fuck not?

Though "struggle" is perhaps not quite accurate. Indeed, I've thrown myself back into work after the "hiatus" of focusing so intently on one major project for nine months. In the past eight days I've edited essays, completed and submitted an interview, consolidated another interview, written a foreign rights agents regarding three novels in need of translation and received said three novels, started reading said three novels in need of translation, begun re-organizing the novella I'll finish over the summer, etc. etc. Being my own boss is the best. Though my shredditor demands sacrifices and blood offerings.

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