How I got here (part 1)

From journalist to translator

simon_berrill_07

I loved being a journalist. When I began my career I was young and keen, willing to work long hours for little pay just for the love of the job. I liked getting to the bottom of a story, clarifying a situation and writing it as concisely and interestingly as I could. I had ambitions, most of which ended up unfulfilled as my time as a middle manager ended in failure and frustration. But in the middle of all that I learned one of the most important lessons of my working life: those who are promoted are not always, or even usually, those who are best at the job. I realised that the really wise journalists I knew were the ones who had stuck to what they enjoyed and avoided the temptation to think, just because they were capable of running things better than those in charge, that it was a good idea to try to do it.

All that experience has been invaluable to me since I became a translator. Now, of course, I get to the bottom of the meanings of words rather than researching news stories, but I still love to get a clear understanding of a situation and produce the sharpest, most interesting text I can.  The other lesson my time in journalism taught me is equally important. I’m never again going to allow myself to be distracted from the work I like doing – translating – and everything is aimed at allowing me as much working time as possible to do just that. Being responsible for other people’s work is not for me. That’s why I’m not a translation agency and I’m not going to become one. I don’t like adminstration and accounts, so I outsource as much as I can. I’m not a web designer, so I’ve got a professional to create my website. What I do is produce the best translations that I can. And that’s much more satisfying than any job I’ve ever had.

5 Comments

  1. Hi Simon,

    I really enjoy reading about other translators’ backgrounds, and as broad as our backgrounds are, I’ve not yet but a colleague who is a former journalist, so it’s really fascinating to learn about the transferable experience you gained and you now apply to your work. Looking forward to part 2.

    PS – See if you can get some buttons added to your blog so we can share your posts on Twitter 🙂

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Lloyd. with this one I wanted to concentrated on the not so obvious transferable experience, because the ability to write in English is clearly the most important skill I’ve been able to move across into translation. I’ll be telling more of my story soon. And I’ll look at the Twitter thing with my IT man. I’ve been too busy with the website in the past few months to even think about going on to Twitter.

    Reply
  3. It impresses me quite a lot how you reconducted your journalism experience into translation. Two careers that certainly, if combined wisely, could shape a good translator. Cheers and Happy New Year, dear colleague!It impresses me quite a lot how you reconducted your journalism experience into translation. Two careers that certainly, if combined wisely, could shape a good translator. To me, this sentence: ”clarifying a situation and writing it as concisely and interestingly as I could” is the key to understand that we all the translators should make people conscious of what lies beneath being one. The same goes for the background, that might be not only linguistic, but cultural and open-minded. Cheers and Happy New Year, dear colleague!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Patricia. Happy New Year to you too!

      Reply
    • Thanks for your post, Patricia. I didn’t realise I hadn’t replied to you, but I think I approved your post when I was away over Christmas and perhaps I wasn’t able to send the reply. Anyway, I appreciate your kind words and I hope you’re having a great start to the New Year.

      Reply

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