Musings from an underworked translator April 30, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
Karen’s guest post on Corinne’s blog today made me question whether I should keep up the blog, but I know deep down that I don’t blog for notoriety or to attract clients. I use my blog as my emotional outlet to vent about situations in the industry that upset me or share my experiences with others. I used to complain on listservs. Most people have no choice but read or at least glance at the various posts that are sent to a listserv. When I blog, people can choose whether or not they want to listen to me. When I was teaching the graduate translation students at Kent I hated the grading, but loved sharing my experience and the wisdom I had gained from so many of my colleagues over the years with the students. I consider my blog to be an extension of this. I also enjoy sharing the occasional video or comic strip about our field. I had hoarded them on my computer, but they needed to be shared and enjoyed.
You might have been wondering why I have been posting less often here in the last few months. The fact is that business has really dried up for me in the last six months. It was slowing down all year last year, as I struggled to find time to translate while settling my uncle’s estate. Then the three week stint at the law firm had me turning down work while working on a large translation at night. After both job assignments finished in early December I have rarely had lots of work. I haven’t needed to use my job board. The jobs come in in dribs and drabs (a thousand words here, 800 words there), with long days of nothing in between. I don’t know the cause of it, but the fact remains that I am woefully underworked. And when I am underworked I start to question things – my life, my abilities as a translator, whether I should continue freelancing or get a “real job.” I start to wonder whether this blog is a detriment to my job – if customers are turned off by the “overworked” moniker or if my complaining about bad clients or bad business practices repulses potential clients or my readers. My motivation wanes: my motivation to blog, motivation to tweet, motivation to sit at my computer, motivation to market myself. I am in a weird position at the moment where I don’t need to work, but want to work. There are only so many books I can read and so much television I can watch. Judge Judy is awesome, but when I have time to watch her twice a day that’s a problem. I know that this can’t continue indefinitely though. Working makes me happy. It makes me feel fulfilled. Like I have a purpose in life. When I am underworked I get bored. listless. depressed.
I know that this too shall pass, but it’s hard to experience. I need to contact my existing clients and let them know I’m available for work. I really need to send out some marketing e-mails and find some new clients. Maybe even reach out to new direct clients like the local law firms and hospitals here in Cleveland. I just need to find the motivation. The death of Dr. Lee Wright has kind of been a kick in the pants for me. I have taken over his responsibilities as Membership Chair of NOTA. His wife Sue Ellen (my mentor and the person who motivated me to be a translator in the first place) brought me his files on Saturday. We went to dinner and reminisced about Lee and his passion for translation, for his students, and for the arts. It was a lovely evening. We enjoyed the Baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos together. They had season tickets, and Lee used to take me when Sue Ellen was out of town on business. I miss him so much. Sue Ellen told me that when he was told that his cancer had come back Lee made a bucket list, although he never managed to do anything on the list. I am inspired to make my own bucket list. I am healthy and alive and should not squander that. And neither should you.
First on my list is to get away and enjoy a much needed vacation in Hawaii at the end of May. I think I desperately need to reenergize. The flights are booked, the hotels and car rental are arranged, the clothes and swimsuits are bought. I can’t wait. I’ll start the marketing campaign when I get back. Until then please bear with me.