Why make presentations?

Satisfying my ego is what motivates me: I have things to share with fellow translators. Perhaps I am misguided, and the last thing they should do is listen to me. But a call for papers beckons, as does the city where the conference will be held. Clearly, the rational human being has no say in this decision; the ego merely forces her to submit a proposal with haste.

Once your proposal has been accepted, there is no going back. You cannot cancel. The conference organisers would not be impressed. In 2013, I met a translator who had travelled all the way from Japan to Portugal to listen to one particular speaker, only to discover that he had cancelled at the last minute! While I can make no claim to such magnetism, I like to think that there are a few attendees who want to hear my views and any accidental gems I might utter.

What attendees really like is to talk to presenters during the breaks. As a presenter, I like that too. It helps me figure out what is really happening in the minds of translators. And my ego? Well, it gets cut down to size during my final preparation – that brief period before the event when I often forget the title of my talk.


The above 219 words started out life yesterday as a 10 + 10 exercise; that is to say ten timed minutes of writing (or rather, typing) followed immediately by ten minutes of critical revision. Normally this is a 15 + 15, but I was curious to see whether I could do as much in ten minutes as I can in fifteen.  I cannot yet. The result is a poorer first draft which requires longer to revise.

A colleague has recently embarked on this 15 + 15 exercise regime. So yesterday, as an extra step, we swapped our self-revised texts and revised each other’s. This morning I spent a full 30 minutes revising what my colleague had tweaked, until I was happy with everything except the number of words which sat at 241, as opposed to the 274 I had started with. Not nearly enough had been chopped. (So far 1 person hour had been invested in the text.)

Then, I sent the text to a text chopper of note who modestly says that there are more ruthless choppers than he who pull his texts to pieces given half the chance. My expert text chopper colleague (who thinks very differently from me) accepted the challenge, and managed to trim the text to 216 words. I considered each of his changes carefully and accepted about half of them. I made fresh changes, and tightened those up myself. I would guess that means that 2 person hours have now been spent on a text of only 219 words which underwent 6 drafts. What you see is Version 7. I think it still sounds like me, thanks to the good editing of my colleagues, and my final pass at it.

Gratuitous picture of my joyful pumpkin plants this morning.

©2017 Allison Wright

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