Confessions of a conference lover

Sources of Joy – Days 40, 41 and 42

Do not jump to any conclusions. All dealings at the Evento regional da ProZ em Porto, Portugal and the Freelance Box event held this weekend in Porto were strictly professional, she said prudishly.

The confessions part of the title owes its existence to a fleeting thought as I started writing, about Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater, which I read when I was far too young to understand much about the power of addiction, the pursuit of pleasure, or the pain of its absence. The thought had to do with the duality of the pleasures and the pain of translation, and led on from musings on the much-touted theory that without coffee, some translation jobs would never be completed.

Prompted by Valeria Aliperta, of the Freelance Box duo, to come up with sayings completing the phrase “A day without coffee is like…”, I took the photo below and married it to one of my suggestions. There are hints of a beginning of a series here.

In the hotel bar, spending some quality time with my laptop after the conference.
In the hotel bar, spending some quality time with my laptop after the conference.

The reason I speak of the pain of translation will not be that clear to anyone who professes a love for this work that we do. Pain does exist, however. I noted it on the face of every single delegate at the conference. It is the phenomenon of what I call “translator eyes”.  Every single person had them.

Ha! And all of you thought that I looked too exhausted to notice! Translator eyes have bags under them, and carry the remnants of the intensity of the most recently experienced deadline, and indeed, in the faces of some (older) translators, the scars of many such experiences. I would guess that I was not alone in the ill-conceived decision to attempt to maintain my normal weekly workload in advance even though I did clear my schedule to accommodate both events this weekend.  The collection of pale faces spoke largely of coffee addiction. There are those who do not drink coffee, but they are a rare breed.

It is no wonder then, that all these translator eyes looked so happy to see each other. An exchange of views on their favourite subject accompanied by yet more coffee held the promise of almost insufferable joy!

Strangely enough, by the morning of Day 2, most, if not all, translators had perked up enormously, and appeared fresh, breezy and full of bounce. The rejuvenating properties of translation conferences – particularly in the area around the eyes – cannot be over estimated. Motivation coupled with real breakfasts, coffee breaks and lots of little cakes and sandwiches and hearty lunches meant that everyone was positively beaming by the end of it all.

That’s all I am going to confess today of my observations at the conference. I will try to come to grips with some of the gems I gathered once I land back on my home turf and my eyes have returned to their usual condition – and we all have a few more cups of coffee under our belts.


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