Self-promotion, strangely enough

Sources of Joy – Days 36 and 37

Note:  All graphic material on this page is the sole copyright of Toni Le Busque, who so engagingly illustrated my brief but informative memoirs in Scatterling. Seeing as she had so much fun drawing them, I am, as far as I know, the only one who is allowed to reproduce them, for blogging purposes. Enjoy the drawings, imitate them if you must, but do not copy without Toni Le Busque’s express permission. Thanks, ever so.

If you are confused about what day it is, then join the merry club. Ever since last summer when I introduced the super-efficient, very productive schedule which allowed me to pass out in complete oblivion for two hours every afternoon, I must confess to not being entirely successful in restoring  the 16 hours awake, 8 hours asleep routine, or slight variations thereof. During winter we have just waded through, I did not have a siesta. What a ridiculous idea!  I turned into a night-owl. Thoughts – and blogs –  frequently straddle dates. The blog recorded as being on the 19th was really the 18th. Today, being the 20th will probably be the 21st when I am finished this entry, so I shall, once again, not be in alignment with that arbitrary measurement imposed by human beings called time. Day 36, which in my time zone was the 19th, was not a joyous day , yet one on which I received good news. There is a vacancy a home starting on Friday, 23rd May for João for 30 days.  (Quick summary for first-time visitors here: João is my partner of 26 years’ standing. Multiple Sclerosis was the label she was finally given in 1996. She broke her leg two years ago. Since then, she has not ever walked again. Since then, caring for her has been especially demanding, and life for João has not been so fabulous, generally speaking. That’ll do.) I need a break from all the scary caring, and João needs closer attention from the health professionals. This is the proposed solution to get us both re-energised, like on Star Trek.

João and her mantra, which has kept her going all these year.
João and her mantra, which has kept her going all these years.

Getting beamed in different directions to achieve the same objective requires a really good imagination. Fortunately, each of us got one of those. Does anyone remember an ice-cream on a stick called “Lurv”? Never mind. Suffice to say that our imagination is the flavour of lurv.

Allison, scribbling things.
Allison, scribbling things.

Conveying all the necessary information to the authorities about a disabled person in need of assistance, and emphasising how imperative it is for the scary carer to get some rest is… finally – the word! – zombifying.

A small pic, so as not to scare you too much.
A small pic, so as not to scare you – or me, for that matter.

Yesterday, I was glad to hear from an agency I like who had a large, urgent job. It would have been mine for the taking. And normally, I would not have hesitated in accepting the work. It would have meant 14 days at full speed, and thoroughly worth the effort.  I turned it down because, happily, four of those days will be spent travelling and attending a translation conference, a least one day preparing for and transferring João to the home – and I had, on this one particular occasion, to consider my state of mind (graphically represented in zombified form above). We had a nice chat for a couple of minutes, and the agency owner, as always, appreciated my candour regarding my suddenly busier than usual schedule, although I reserved comment as to my state of nerves. My state of nerves is something I have entrusted to a few close friends who have kept me cheerful lately. I realised this morning that the wondrous thing about joy is that it does not always have to come from within; you can borrow a little from those around you. It is a little like pinching a bit of icing from a chocolate cake. No one will notice – and, in my house, anyway, it is allowed. On one translation forum today, there was an interesting discussion centred on how not too many translators feel culturally comfortable about what is rather disparagingly called self-promotion. Not only in this particular forum, but more broadly across the Internet space occupied by translators, it amazes me how many incredibly skilled and experienced translators seem to feel the need to apologise for the fact that they do indeed have a business to run which requires active promotion and marketing.  In so doing, they detract from the intended message. Not all of us were born salespeople, yet this is no reason to shy away from the excellent marketing and business promotion seminars and workshops on offer, tailored specifically to translators’ requirements. Yet some people persist in telling themselves that all they have to do is be excellent at what they do – translate. They should attend at least one seminar or workshop and then revise that idea. A lot, like me, are not averse to strengthening an underdeveloped aspect of their method of earning a living.  We understand the principles involved, but never quite get around to going the whole distance in order to achieve what the “new generation” (I use that term very loosely to cover more than two generations) see as an entry level prerequisite: A coherent, consistent message which appeals precisely to the type of clients that individual translator needs in order to flourish. There are different approaches and that is how it should be. We do not want to look the same, like so many little boxes, all made of ticky-tacky, as the song goes (aimed at the”older” generation this time). This is why my approach might seem strange. It may seem like the antithesis of self-promotion. For one, it is only relatively recently that I even admitted to having a challenging domestic arrangement to deal with, over and above the rigours of translating.  It is widely thought that being professional means having no chinks in your armour. At the very least, one was not supposed to expose them. To my mind, it is a waste of time to build a mono-dimensional public profile. It is not true, or real. We need to be real. The real deal. My basic tenets are these: I am, despite the doctored photo above, a human being with a life closely interwoven with my work, since I am a freelancer, working from home. This is how I have chosen to work. I know from experience that this is indeed the best way for me to work. Phrased differently: My clients will get the best work out of me if I work as I do, freelancing from home. I do not need the high heels and pencil skirt of yesteryear to be efficient, professional, or disciplined; I am efficient, professional and disciplined. I am quite happy to work incredibly hard, without telling anybody about it, and without having anyone, or anything except my own word, hovering over my shoulders.  I love to collaborate over a project so that the clearest view is obtained at the start of an assignment. I want what my clients want: a good, quality result. In holistic fashion, to use a currently trending catchphrase, it is precisely my desire to enhance and maintain the level of quality sought in my work that I have to work out a solid solution for the circumstances which affect me personally. Only I know the true extent of the monumental effort I have put into delivering excellence in less than ideal conditions. My inspiration has come, strangely enough, from stories of the travails of other translators who have overcome the odds with remarkable success, and have seemingly never once buckled. If they did buckle, or if I have, it was only a little, and very fleetingly. They continue on their determined path, and go from strength to strength. There are only a handful of nights in our long association when João and I have been apart. This 30-day separation has a two-fold purpose: It will be for her own good, and for mine. It will be strange. For my part, I look forward to João continuing to receiving the care she deserves, and I am looking forward to a creative, introspective and productive month during this break from what has become an overly demanding routine. After the conference, it will be business as usual, except with greater focus, and a good deal of rest in between bouts of intense creativity. Oh yeah, and fun. And perhaps a bit of self-promotion.

Buy the book. It is very reasonable. You get to laugh.  Buy a set of coloured crayons. There are colouring-in possibilities on every second page.
Buy the book. It is very reasonable. You get to laugh.
Buy a set of coloured crayons. There are colouring-in possibilities on every second page.

Allison Note: I am aware that the structure of this post is not solid as I would like it to be. This time, it was more important to me to record these “stray thoughts” before they could be influenced by the events anticipated in the next few days. Besides, I have real work to get on with. After that, I will edit this post for the inevitable typos. 🙂

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