There’s a pervasive motif in this profession that divides translators into the “absolute pro” category versus the “mere hobbyist” camp—with absolutely no grey area, despite the fact that translators’ business styles are as varied as the subjects they translate. This, believe it or not, is probably my #1 source of stress as I develop my freelance enterprise.
For instance: everyone goes through droughts—of workload, energy, and confidence levels. It’s a normal part of business. Veteran professionals take weeks or months off at a time to prevent burnout, tend to family needs, or explore a new interest. I’m not sure why younger professionals, who have these breaks forced upon them by circumstance, are meant to feel it makes them something less than they are.
The same goes for mistakes in our work. Yes, there may be a sliding scale of “total newb” versus “tired pro” errors, but the truth is, no one is perfect. Pros can make dorky mistakes; newbs can create elegant solutions to tricky problems. What matters is how you handle correcting the mistakes you do make, and whether you learn from them for future projects.
Final example: I know some incredibly professional translators who “only” do it part time, in between raising children or working another job. Or they don’t have to worry about their business revenue, because a partner or spouse is the steady breadwinner. Are they less professional because they aren’t putting in X amount of hours, or sweating bullets about earning over some income threshold Y? Absolutely not!
Let’s stop putting this sort of pressure on our colleagues and ourselves. There’s pressure enough minding our grammars and building our translation skill sets (not to mention finding and keeping good clients).
Have you ever felt like a fraud? How did you get past it? Extra credit: share one positive thought about a colleague of yours. What does s/he do well?