Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Translation and Creativity

I was hoping that we would be well and truly into spring at this point, but the first part of March has remained cold and frosty here in Rutland. Nonetheless, this year’s first lambs have been born, and their little high-pitched bleats can be heard across the village. I also heard the first skylark of the year when out on my morning walk the other day, so hope that is another sign the warmer weather is on its way!

Translation and creativity

My big excitement for this month has been attending the launch of a new poetry anthology for which one of my poems had been selected (I publish poems as “Meggie Hiley”, and have had work included in publications such as the Earth Pathways Diary and Goddess Pages). From 2001 to 2012, the journal Earth Love Poetry Magazine published nature poetry, donating all money raised to environmental charities. Sadly, rising costs meant the journal had to close down last year, but editor Tracy Patrick wanted to end by celebrating its achievements in a final anthology. I had contributed several poems to the journal over the years and was very excited that one of them was selected for inclusion. The anthology was officially launched two weeks ago at the Scotia Bar in Glasgow, with many of the poets featured present (including me).  The volume contains over 100 pages of poems and some beautiful original artwork, and can be purchased here for the very reasonable price of £6 – all proceeds are donated to conservation charities, so it makes for both an aesthetically and ethically pleasing gift!

This event, among other things, has got me thinking more closely about my creative writing. Up until recently, I did not really see my translation work and creative work as related to one another (maybe because I just had not thought about it properly!). Now, however, I can see that in actual fact most of my translations (if not all) are creative work. Despite the fact that the translated texts I produce are based on an original by someone else, I am still engaged in creating a new piece of writing that, while it needs to approximate the meaning of the original, needs to be easy or indeed pleasurable to read in English. I want my translations to be aesthetically pleasing and “flow”, just like my poetry.
Illustration © C.A. Hiley

With this in mind, I now plan to try and do more creative writing, not just for its own sake, but because it helps me to hone the writing skills I need in my translation work. I am currently experimenting with writing “morning pages” as suggested by Julia Cameron, author of the bestseller The Artist’s Way as a way of getting my creative juices flowing before sitting down at the computer and attacking my translations. I also really appreciate reading examples of good writing – be that journalism, fiction, poetry, or even manuals or instruction as useful models for my own translated texts. I’m not alone here: most translators I know are avid readers and see reading as part of their professional development, not just because of the content they acquire, but also because it helps to improve their style further. But we shouldn’t just be reading – we should be writing as well, whether that’s blogging, writing articles for trade journals, or writing for our own private pleasure, because when it comes down to it, that’s what we translators do for a living – WRITE.

Hoping that balmy spring days lie ahead for all of us (in the northern hemisphere at least),