Anabel González

I am at this time very confused.

 A person that read what I published of my translation here and said me the following:” I really liked the concept, the idea that the main character could feel the emotions behind places. That has me hooked from the start. But, regarding the flow of the piece, it felt kind of choppy. I think this might partially be an issue of translation. Some of the words didn't make sense in the context of the sentence. For example, in the first paragraph it says "enjoying these moments of solitude where no alien feeling could alter my calmness, except for those that still remain in the old facades." I've highlighted the words that make it difficult to understand. This does happen in other places, too. Again, this seems like an issue of translation. I don't think that your ideas are being conveyed as they should be in English.”

 Well this got me thinking if it's such a good idea to have someone else translating my novel, no one knows the voice of my character better than me, well just my best friend and critique partner who is helping me with corrections in English and Spanish. Maybe it's time to think about doing it myself even if I make it slowly.

 Translating it by myself will help me in the entire publishing process and I could make revisions without assistance and only depend on me. It could also help me improve and can start writing in English directly.

But I have to admit that it scares me, I'm not American and my grammar is bad, I know I can improve with study and practice.But it scares me because I don´t have critique partners that can say if I am going well or I need to improve. Many writers are afraid to criticize a novel that is a translation. I don´t know why, I want them to see it as if it were one written in English but these are the reasons they gave me.

 On the other hand, a translator would translate it faster and my project would be available in English before, but may lose its essence...

I need your help since English is your native language. Do you think the girl that made these comments was right?

What would you do?

I know that every person is different and makes its decisions based on that but sometimes it is easier to decide on something important by hearing the views of others. Because if I venture in this it is going to be a tough job....


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17 Responses
  1. tracyworld Says:

    Anabel, I don't know what I would do in your situation. Your English is 100 times better than my Spanish, yet I do agree that the use of "alien" and "facades" feel off in that context (although "alien" doesn't feel as off as "facades.")
    Writing a novel is already hard work in a native language, then adding translation to the mix adds another level of difficulty. I wish I knew the "right" answer for you on this, but I don't. Lo siento mucho.
    I understand why someone would hesitate to criticize a novel that was translated; it's a huge task and one that requires infinite skill and patience to achieve. It's intimidating to even contemplate.
    (I'm not trying to talk you out of the project, just sharing my thoughts).


  2. Only by sharing your thoughts you are helping a lot.
    I am only considering to translate it by myself because I learned to read and write in english at the same time I learned spanish. For me to use both was very common the majority of my life and maybe its time to recover it.
    Know by your opinion on why would a critique partner be afraid of criticizing I understand more their point of view and know think that I never explained myself correctly in what I expected from them. I don´t want a critique partner to look at my novel differently from how they would look another one. I want the same critique and same observations. Because what I want to achieve is a novel that doesn´t seem translated. And only if something feels strange or out of place to tell me. And I would never share something that is not a thousand times revised by me. I don´t want to put anyone in extra work. So i think I must explain myself better to possible critique partners.
    I appreciate a lot your comments and know you are not trying to talk me out of the project, you are trying to help and I am thankful for that.
    Muchas gracias!


  3. tracy_d74 Says:

    it read choppy to me. i think that was where a lot of my questions about the translation process came up. i liked what you had, but it did not read smoothly in places. i am not sure how to work on that. i mean, writing a book in english is HARD. jeez! once upon a time i used to know spansih very well, i still read it so-so. there is no way i could write a book in spanish. uh...not even close. and i think the translator will have some challenges because he (or she, I can't recall for sure) won't know your character.
    maybe the translation process requires you to discuss it with the person, so they can capture the REAL meaning behind your words. of course, that can be time consuming for both parties.
    it's tough. i could try and help you out. my fear is that i will try and make is sound like me...something i don't want to do. if you send me something: tracy (dot) dickens (at) yahoo (dot) com. I can look at it more closely and give suggestions.


  4. I think the problem first is that he ( the translator) isn´t a literary translator, second he is a man and not a writer so he can´t put himself in the position of a girl.
    You are true that the person helping with the translation must know the character and we must talk a lot. My critique partner in spanish knows the character by heart that is why she helped me a lot because we discussed the novel for hours and then she could tell me were it wasn´t ok. So the translator must know that also. And also have the voice of a 19 year old.
    All that only makes me want more to translate it myself, is going to be hard but I am going to learn a lot and maybe do this right, keeping the essence of my novel.
    I really appreciate your help!! thank you very much! I already sent you a mail.


  5. tracy_d74 Says:

    Yep, you probably need to find a writer/translator.
    That is awesome that you have a partner you can talk about your story to.


  6. bogwitch64 Says:

    Yes, it does read choppy, and yes, it is due to translation. Here's where your problem lies--it's not that your translator isn't literary, or know your characters, or isn't a writer. You need a translator who is a native ENGLISH speaker. The nuances between languages is key. Alien and facade are technically correct, but they're off. A native English speaker would know that, while a Spanish speaker translating into English might not.
    If your translator IS a native English speaker, then you need a new translator!
    My advice to you, Anabel, would be to do your own translations. In fact, if you are determined to publish in an American market, you might well try to write in English from the beginning. Yes, the practice will make you stronger and stronger in this. Read in English. Write in English. If you come upon a word that you're not sure of, look it up. If you're still not sure, ask one of us! It'll take longer, but in the end, you'll be a much stronger writer, and the story will be exactly what YOU want it to be.



  7. Oh I have to tell that for me was hard to know the meaning of choppy :) but I think I got it. It was important for me to see were the real problem was to make a decision.
    And you are correct the translator must be native, and I am not going to do this with someone that is not doing it correctly.
    My husband is always telling me the same as you are saying to me know. That I must translate it by myself and then with the practice start to write the sequel directly in english. That like that I can be considered as any other author.
    The idea has been in mi mind for a few weeks but I was very scared I couldn´t make it. But I started reading in english a lot in fact all the books in my kindle are in english and are YA, new adult,middle grade, to read the voice and vocabulary of that ages. Also i have been watching a lot of american television so I can hear it and get it in my brain. Even in the movies i stopped reading the subtitles for trying to improve.
    So right now I am going to try I know it is going to be very hard but I am not scared, the world isn´t for the cowards.And I know this is going to make me stronger.
    Thank you very much for the advice I don´t know all of you for a very long time but you have become very important and dear to me.


  8. And that is going to be hard to find here, and the translator must be near so we can talk.
    I don´t know but now I am determined to try it by myself and see how it works.
    Yes my partner is great and she doesn´t even like to write. So she is a great friend hearing me speaking of people that don´t even exist. :)


  9. tracy_d74 Says:

    Ah! this posted?! What? LJ was acting wonlky this morning.
    Friends like that are priceless.



  10. bogwitch64 Says:

    You're going to make me cry! :-D In a good way, of course.
    I think you've made the right decision. It's going to be harder in the short term, but in the end, you're making your writing life a lot easier.
    Good luck, my dear! I'm always here if you need help. XX


  11. Oh don´t cry because I am going to cry too.:)
    Thank you very much!!


  12. robinellen Says:

    I think you can definitely do the translation yourself. You know the subtleties you're trying to express, and once you learn the words for them, you'll have given yourself more tools for future writing. I have no doubt you can do this! :)


  13. Thank you very much for saying this! I really hope I can make it.


  14. writerjenn Says:

    You probably already know I agree with this, because I made the same suggestion, not knowing someone else had also!
    Yes, I do think that if you want to submit a novel written in English for publication, you should write it in English, in your voice. That version will have "mistakes," but you can fix them with the help of critiquers or even hiring a professional freelance editor. It's easier to do those sorts of line edits than it is to try to convey the tone and soul of a piece that has been translated, especially if the translator doesn't specialize in literary translations.


  15. Yes you made the sugestion the same day I posted this so we were all in the same thinking path.
    Know I am totally convinced of doing this. I know it is going to be hard but I must do it.
    Thank you!!


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