This post is a bit different from the others. By mid-September it was time to take a break. A couple of weeks of settled weather were forecast, and the reproduction rate (the R) for coronavirus was once again on the rise. My part of the world may be in lockdown again within weeks.
So, half of this post is about my progress as a mentored emerging literary translator, and half is about taking a break from this work and from my paid work.
September is #WorldKidLitMonth
The World Kid Lit initiative was launched in 2016 as a way of highlighting diverse, global and translated children’s books. They say:
We would like to see more diversity in English-language publishing to give a richer and more realistic representation of the multicultural and multilingual world we live in. We aim to make it easier for readers to find international books, whether in translation from other languages or originally published in English elsewhere.
This post appeared on the World Kid Lit blog while I was having time off. It features The Moon is Red, one of the books for older children I’ve translated for the Gwasg Carreg Gwalch publishing house.
How nice to have my efforts with the trilingual dialogue described thus:
… flavours of both Welsh and Basque are kept, particularly in the terms of affection … I also really enjoyed Susan Walton’s portrayal of the dialogue, really bringing the North Walian accent alive.
The original Welsh – Mae’r Lleuad yn Goch – won a Tir na n-Og award in 2018. Hmm … now if only there were awards for translated children’s books …
Second meeting with my mentor
Until about four days before this was due to happen, our second meeting was going to be in person. However, with Wales’ First Minister urging people not to make unnecessary journeys because of the rising coronavirus R, we decided once again to meet virtually.
As ‘homework’ for the session, I’d drafted a ‘pitch’ letter for my mentor to advise on. This led on to a discussion about the themes of the book. The mentor said that I need to choose three or four out of maybe a possible dozen or so themes I could draw out of the text. But the mentor also emphasised that I need to be able to talk and write in depth about all the themes, not just those selected for the pitch.
The other topic that we discussed at length is the ongoing task of identifying other works of art (especially other novels) that Yn y Tŷ Hwn is like. This is what is expected when pitching to publishers or agents. Researching this – more or less since the start of the project – has been quite time-consuming and I haven’t really come up with anything better as a description than ‘A modern-day Brief Encounter’.
I was encouraged by the mentor telling me that some of the books I’d been considering for the ‘it’s like’ role but had discounted, might, in fact, work. These include A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray and The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, translated by Samuel Rutter. The tutor is going to put on their thinking cap to try to identify closer matches, and I am going to continue researching.
Anglesey Coastal Path
My long, long-time friend celebrated a big birthday by walking the entire Anglesey Coastal Path. All 130 miles of it. While I was having time off. So the natural thing to do was to join her for a couple of days. And for another couple of days I did other stretches of the path. I camped on Anglesey – or Ynys Môn, as I think of it.
We both saw what I think was probably the same pod of Risso’s dolphins off Trwyn Eilian, but on different days. Fortuitously, a chap with a long lens was taking photos of them when she saw them. He has kindly allowed both of us to use his photos in our blogs. Her blog is here. (This friend is also the friend I imagine as the ideal reader of a translated Yn y Tŷ Hwn, so reference to her in this post is not entirely irrelevant.)
A new tent, sad clothes, and secret necklaces
One outcome of camping on Anglesey was discovering that the tent I’d bought to go to Glastonbury in 1981 was no longer waterproof. In any case, my travelling companion and I are getting a bit old and stiff to be crawling in and out of a small, Toblerone-shaped tent after a day’s hiking. So I bought a bigger, modern tent from eBay, to see us out.
What I didn’t foresee was that the new tent wouldn’t fit through the trapdoor to the attic. I had to find another home for it in my very small house. One of the built-in bedroom cupboards seemed the best option.
I shuffled clothes about and made space. But while I was moving some of my lovely clothes, I began to wonder if I’d ever get to wear them again. Will life ever be the same again, and even if it is, will I be too old and fed-up by then to want to get dressed up?
I’ve got lovely jewellery too. The opportunities for wearing jewellery have disappeared. But I’ve decided, regardless of the level of casualness/antiquity the top-half clothes I’m wearing, that I’m going to wear a different necklace every day, underneath, secretly. One of these.
Images and words ©Susan Walton 2020, except for the photos of Risso’s dolphins ©George Boyer 2020, reproduced with permission; the image of a thinking woman by Tachina Lee on Unsplash; and the photo of coloured strands by Anand Thakur on Unsplash.