This week, it is particularly to my brother and sister translators that I am addressing myself. And more specifically to those that work freelance from their living room or office at home. To aspiring independent translators also: those who hesitate to launch themselves into the job for fear of becoming a hermit who needs to go out for bread or a magazine, even during the day, in order to see a friendly face. I want to say to you STOP! There is another way! There is an alternative! And this alternative is called “coworking”. I will tell you of my personal experience and you will see that being a translator is not synonymous with solitude and isolation.
Saint Jerome: a lonely and desperate man.
The man in the photo above is called Jerome. Saint Jerome in fact. He is the patron saint of translators. We celebrated him, as we do every year, this 30th of September. Just take a look at him: the beard, the deep sadness in his face, a look that could say “I’m tired of working alone! I’m bored! There’s nobody to play with either!”
Frankly, do you want to end up looking like him?
A solution exists!
When I discovered coworking a year ago I had already been working as a freelance for about ten years. I had set up a little office in my apartment. I enjoy translation. And, above all, what I like about the business, is the total freedom it offers: geographically (we can work from anywhere, my moving homes over the years without any problem for example): in planning (this summer, for example, I adapted my schedule to the weather forecast to make the most of the sunny days.) In short, I think I can say that I am a happy translator. But I’m even happier since I discovered coworking. I’ll explain to you how with a few examples. But before, in order to understand exactly what coworking is, I’d like to ask you to read the following paragraphs of this post in which I will explain the concept, origins and advantages, and in more concrete detail. Where I’ll recount a typical coworking day, and further still I’ll explain another advantage of coworking: serendipity.
Helping each other –the No 1 benefit to coworking for translators
A little illustration of the benefits of coworking for we translators: This summer I finally took the step to update my translation programs. My fellow translators will understand when I explain that I went from Wordfast Classic to SDL Studio. It’s like changing a bike for a Porsche (Yes, O.K; a Porsche pollutes and is noisy, but it goes (much) faster!) Or from a tent to a castle. Or from a PC to a Mac (that’s just a little jibe at PC users…but still!).
A “translation program?” I hear you say… NO it’s not a Google Translate for translators. NO, the program won’t translate for you. A little explanation for the uninitiated: SDL Studio is what’s called a computer aided translation (CAT) tool. The principal use of Studio concerns its ability in “translation memory”, it retains the way you translate each phrase (or “segment” according to our jargon). The benefit? Whenever, a little further in your text, or another text you’re translating a year later, the program remembers that you have already translated that phrase, or part of that phrase, it automatically inserts it into the text. Magic!
Studio has many other very useful functions, but I won’t go into them here because I doubt they would really interest you. Just let me say that the advantages are great, the principal being time saving for sure, but also the gain in quality (thanks to the improved coherence in the translator’s work.)
Studio is a bit like the Rolls Royce for translators. There are other CAT programs, but none as efficient as Studio – or so it seems. But efficiency can also mean complexity for someone like me who has never had any formal training in these programs (regarding this, a question to translation students who might be reading this: does your translation course foresee/include CAT tools to help in translation?) And this where we are, finally, at the theme: helping each other!
In fact, if I hadn’t been coworking, I would certainly have been completely lost with the new program and would have lost many weeks (and a lot of hair) in trying to work it out (and I’m not exaggerating for once, believe me.)
Fortunately, at Betacowork, I am not the only translator and my closest coworker (we sit next to each other so that we can easily share advice, but also jokes or …fresh strawberries) – my coworker/colleague/translating brother, who has worked with Studio for years was kind enough to train me in the program in next to no time! Every day for a week (which must have seemed an eternity to him…), he was beside me to help me create my projects, to come to my aid every time I had a question and to give me insights and hints from his own experience. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him publicly: thank you Pierre. Without you I would have jumped out of the window a long time ago and would probably be convalescing in hospital right now.
To be honest, I had the idea to write this post a few weeks ago when I met a lady translator in the coworking space where I work. Ramon, the local conductor of the local orchestra had the great idea of introducing us and we could discuss her situation and what she was looking for. Like me before, she was working alone and, basically, was fed up with being a recluse. At the same time she was worried that other translators in a coworking space would be competition to her. I immediately reassured and explain that not only was there no rivalry between us (we each have our own clients), but more than this we help each other on a daily basis (I told her about my experience with Studio of course, but also the times we help each other when one of us is blocked on a term, or how we exchange information on new learning, etc.) And also that it’s healthy to be with your peers. There’s a certain natural solidarity between translators. Translation is a solitary job by nature, so what could be better than meeting other translators? Coworking represents even further advantages for the translator, such as the possibility to naturally broaden your network through meeting other professionals and thus meet new clients.
Translators of the world, unite!
So there’s my message to all the brothers and sisters who have had enough of working at home because of the solitude, the isolation, the 1001 temptations (I’ll just do the laundry), etc.: coworking spaces are starting to appear throughout the world and revoltionize the way that freelancers work. Find out about the one nearest to where you live! Go and visit it! Take a day’s trial! You’ll see how it can change your life. For sure, you’ll meet other translators, but also people from other sectors and businesses that you would otherwise never meet. Your spirit will open to new horizons. Days will stop repeating themselves and new discoveries will enrich them. You will understand in depth the meaning of “serendipity”. In short, your professional – and even your personal life- will take a new turn!
I’d like to confirm that nobody asked me to write this: this post is the result of a totally personal initiative. It’s just that, when I make a happy discovery in whatever area, I like to share it so others can benefit. So brothers and sisters I’m inviting you to take the next step, why not by coming here where we can meet and take your turn to tell me about your experience?
I wish you the happiest of discoveries!
La nomade (translator)
You can read the original and French post on La nomade sédentaire blog!