Tuesday, 21 August 2012

My Dream not Come True

A few weeks ago a close friend forwarded me a job post at the British Council with the tag line: ‘Dream Job?’.  Up until then I had always considered my dream job as being a literary translator; spending my days locked up in a small room at a desk, just the text and me, and my trusted laptop of course.  Then, I clicked on the link and realised that what I was looking at was an application for a job I never even knew existed: ‘Literature Adviser to the British Council’, working with translated literature from Turkey in particular.  As I read the job description I realised that this job was the perfect combination of everything I loved: Turkish, literature and translation.  Then, of course reality and that awful feeling of self-doubt started creeping in and excitement soon made way to disappointment, before I had even applied for the position.  Throughout our time on the course it has been made quite clear to us that life after MALTeser-hood wouldn’t be as plain sailing as we would like it to be.  Trying to convince publishers to pay you to translate a novel seems harder than trying to get an original piece of work in print (or in electronic form).  As a consequence, many of us will have to get a ‘proper’ job that pays the bills.  I hadn’t thought about what type of job that would be.  Up until now that is.  Teaching could be nice, I thought, but that would mean getting another degree.  So after getting over my initial reaction, I applied for what appeared to be my new dream-job-on-the-side.   

Many literary translators do their work simply because they have a love of languages and literature.  However, as a translator working with Turkish, a minority language, I have always had slightly stronger motives.  While Turkish novels such as Orhan Pamuk’s Kar (Snow) have been quite successful, the number of Turkish authors being translated into English is rather limited.   I want to change that.  It appears that the London Bookfair also have the same vision in mind and have announced that the market focus of 2013 will be Turkey.  This is an exciting opportunity for Turkish translators like me who live in England and do not have a lot of time to fly back and forth.  Working for the British Council, I would be working alongside the LBF, developing ideas and projects.  Yet another reason to apply for the dream-job-on-the-side.

Filling out the application form, I knew I didn’t have a lot of the credentials needed.  However, I decided to give it my best shot and make the most of my skills and the little experience I had gained over my short time in employment.  

 As our time on the course comes to a close, I wish all of my fellow MALTesers the best of luck at finding jobs as Literary Translators.  Even more so in finding their dream-job- on-the-side.  Although, as I found out, it might end up finding them. 

I didn’t get the job in the end and an opportunity like this will most likely never come up again. I shall try to remain positive in my plight of having to find two jobs.  However, I might set my sights a bit lower this time and simply hope for a job that helps me pass the time while I wait for my real dream to come true.

Selin translates from French and Turkish into English. She is currently studying the MA in Literary Translation at UEA where she did her undergrad in Modern Languages. Her literary interests include magical realism and crime fiction and she occasionally translates Turkish poetry.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Selin
    Enjoyed reading your piece. Could you kindly contact me at schwartz@btinternet.com
    Thank you
    Ros Schwartz
    English PEN's Writers in Translation committee