I translate, therefore I write

By Valentín Barrantes, Human Resources Manager at Nóvalo

There are several topics fighting to come out to the virtual scene and disappear from the list of ideas I want to write about in this blog. However, this week I’m not in the mood for discussing any of them in particular. It might be due to the fact that most of them somehow have an educational intention, or in some way are intended to make others learn what I am expressing, but what it’s true is that today neither do I want to teach anything, nor show any knowledge about our fascinating professional world. What I only want to do today is writing, just for the pleasure of doing so, and this is why I am here now trying to write…firstly, I pretend to start with an empty mind, then I will leave my fingers move ruled by the first idea coming across my mind.

Above all, I think this blog, as it has been conceived, should be a place where we can share knowledge and opinions about our industry, but not only that, I firmly believe that we should extend its scope in order to embrace other knowledge areas, or to properly use it to show other sort of ideas. Let me explain myself. What I mean is that we are invited to write about questions of other nature, either simple or complex…now for example, thoughts such as fellowship, empathy with clients, the way social changes affect us, the way we feel belonging to a company, what we most like about our job, and so on come to my mind. We can write about impressions we have about different aspects of our life and our work, without the need of being experts on each subject.

To date, our blog It depends on the context has given birth to nineteen articles about very different topics, each of them with a greater or lesser extent of knowledge or opinion, depending on each author. I think we are on the right track. All of them have been stimulating and interesting to me for some reason, and I feel really proud of the direction the blog is following, as one of the parts involved in it.

For example, now I am thinking, trying not to seem disjointed, on one of the last breakfast I had with my colleagues at Nóvalo’s main office. Someone started to talk about our blog and suddenly we were all discussing how easy it is, for some of them, to write about a topic, but how challenging it is, for others, to choose a topic and star writing. Carefully thinking about this, I have always been someone with no fear at all when facing a “blank paper”. It has always been encouraging for me having an empty sheet of paper before me, or sitting in front of the screen with a new open file as we normally do nowadays in our technological age, and start to reflect ideas about a topic to later interconnect them, or even to shape ideas straightforwardly as I write word after word. I used to enjoy this possibility since I wrote papers at the school or even later at the university, and also writing letters to my friends when I was younger, and preparing classes later on, or even just writing down ideas before speaking to a group of people. Some people surprised themselves or did not understand how it was so easy for me to write and create things from scratch, and enjoying so much doing so, and with no interest at all in looking at other’s work to inspire my own writing. It doesn’t mean everything someone produces is brilliant or amazing, it depends on different factors, and sometimes reflecting ideas more fluently and beautifully is easier than others; what it is really important is going for it and do it, without problems or fears. When someone loves and lives with words every day, it can be argued that the issue is less complicated, and it might be true, as practice always undoubtedly helps, but I think there are other factors in the process, that have more to do with each person’s capabilities and “a lot more” with passion for writing.

A great number of people I have talked about this during my life have expressed their fear to face a blank paper, and they have showed healthy envy seeing how easy it is for me to start writing, as for them, on the contrary, it is a hard task and they even feel some sort of anxiety. This is the idea playing around my mind in this particular moment… What are those mechanisms of our mind that make it easier to some of us to put ideas in writing? What do we need to overcome the fear to an empty sheet? Are there any real guidelines working properly to help us do this task with pleasure and without fear? As in many other things in life, I think it is a matter of learning and practising, but in the writing activity, as in the translating activity, I believe a great deal of willingness from each person must be present, together, as I already said, with a lot of passion.

If I link this thought with the translating activity, I think one of the reasons why I most love this profession is because every day it gives me the opportunity of “recreating” what someone has written into another language. I like writing and creating from my own ideas, but I also like translating, because I can write every day without the need of having ideas of my own. I love writing, both from the point of view of the content and the form, but I must confess I am totally in love with those mastering in their writing form and style. Whenever I read a book and I realise I don’t like the way the author writes, it doesn’t really seem appropriate to me, or if I find mistakes, it is really hard for me to keep on writing…if the content is better or worse can lead me to finish the book, but the former reasons totally discourage me. So translating is a way for me of, let’s say, facing a blank paper, but having a base to work with…and then I have the challenge of respecting the fidelity to the author while I use the most adequate linguistic tools to obtain the best possible result. It is a magical challenge. It doesn’t matter if I have to translate a device user guide or an article of my favourite journalist. Translating is a pleasure. Always. It is a matter of perspective.

I love writing, and the challenge of creating from scratch motivates me foremost, so I really enjoy translating a text from one language to another…maybe that is the key, and that passion is the reason why I have never feared facing a blank paper. I bet it is…I would like to know what you think. On the other hand, I think that, in the end, to be brilliant when someone writes or translates, as in many other things in life, it is essential being skilled and practice…we talk about a form of art…but that is another question we can discuss in a future post.