Interview: Rachel Hildebrant

Translator Rachel Hildebrandt is the mastermind behind the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, a growing force in the diffusion of international literature among American libraries. Recently, Rachel agreed to answer some of my questions about GLLI and the outlook for books in translation. (Traduzione in italiano sarà presto disponibile.)

How was the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative born?

GLLI was the brainchild of a small group of translators and publishers who realized that librarians would make natural allies in their efforts to celebrate and promote international literature. Back in Winter 2016, we started out as a small email circle, and soon our base began to grow with the addition of an increasing number of librarians. We recognized early on the need to build connections with the professional associations in which librarians are active. I joined ALA as an affiliate member, and along with several librarians, I successfully proposed a session for the 2017 ALA conference on international literature and its importance to libraries. Since that time, our numbers have grown and our engagement is expanding.

What are GLLI’s short- and long-term goals?

In the short-term, one of our major goals is to situate ourselves organizationally such that we can become partners with libraries and library organizations of all kinds. We are exploring some options for fiscal sponsorship, which would provide us with umbrella nonprofit status. With this status, we would be in a good place to apply for grants and corporate sponsorships in order to create a sustainable base for us and to increase the reach of our efforts and projects. Our projects are varied, including: age- and genre-specific book lists for school, public and academic libraries; exploring options for new translated literature awards; pulling together library-focused pan-publisher catalogs across the international literature space; sessions and engagement at library conferences; developing platforms to promote self-published translations among librarians and library users. Long-term we would like to build connections with specific aspects of the library framework, such as partnerships with library venders, aggregators, e-content providers, and such. Ultimately we want to become the go-to resource for librarians seeking to globalize their collections and programs to meet the changing needs of their diverse populations of children, teen and adult users.

It’s very difficult to generalize about library use in Italy due to the great regional differences and the fact that many libraries do not maintain information about their users. One statistic regarding Italian state-run libraries mentions 1.5 million users (out of a total population of about 60.5 million inhabitants).  Can you shed any light on American libraries and their users?

American libraries have spent the past 20 years reinventing themselves. They still are repositories of countless books, but the library of today is just as much shaped by the services it provides, as it is by the number of books in its collection. Libraries have become community spaces and hubs unlike anything else we have today. They are homes to book clubs, artists in residence programs, teen services, legal services, computer labs, maker labs, writing spaces, you name it. Many libraries see themselves as the bridges between the diverse populations in their jurisdictions, and they are servicing individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Libraries are positioned to be truly communal spaces, and they conceive of themselves as havens, ports of call and safety, for anyone and everyone. Marginalized groups in particular  – immigrants and refugees, the LBGTQ community, ethnic minorities – will find allies in libraries. Library users truly are a cross-section of American sociey in the breadth of its diversity and nuances.

Do you think American readers are skeptical about reading books that have been translated? And if so, how do you think their reluctance can be overcome?

I don’t know that the real problem is that American readers are reluctant to read translated literature. What I feel is sooner the case is that they are not knowledgeable about where to find international works in general and the kind of works that would interest them specifically. They also are not aware that in the globalized world in which we live, they really NEED to be reading globally. We like to travel the world and send our children abroad, but we don’t read the world. With that said, unless you are a reader of international literature journals or a follower of certain presses, how is the average reader going to easily find these works? The vast majority of readers are not New York Times subscribers or even know that World Literature Today exists. On the other hand, I feel like many of the international works being celebrated in the major review platforms fall solidly into the literary fiction camp. To be honest, many US readers are avid consumers of genre fiction. This isn’t something for them to feel ashamed about, but it is something for the international literature crowd to consider. Yes, we need the dark, obscure, genre-breaking works, but to be honest, what is going to win the day for US readers are authors like Backman and Koch and Jonasson. At the same time, readers need to know that these works are non-Anglophone works so they can recognize their inherent diversity and learn from the alternate perspectives that are expressed by authors around the world. I think that the answer to overcoming skepticism is a complicated one. I do firmly believe that one answer is libraries, which have a long tradition of being tastemakers for readers, young and old. We have all been handed books by librarians at various in our lives – titles we had never heard of – and been enchanted, transformed, by those books. Librarians are curators and conveyors of information and collections within a truly demographic framework. It doesn’t matter what your bank account holds, you will walk out of a library with a treasure. That cannot be said of bookshops, however lovely they may be. To me, arming librarians with the resources to intentionally globalize their collections and the means of circulating and programming with these titles will go a long way to increasing the access points of American readers to global literature.

In your opinion, what makes a foreign title more or less attractive in translation?

This is a very difficult question depending on the perspective you are coming from. I am sometimes baffled by comments from publishers about the “suitability” of a work for the US market. Since I read a broad variety of works – and I know I’m not the only one who does so – my immediate reaction to that line of reasoning is: “But the US is such a diverse country that somebody somewhere will read it.” For example, although I’m not a poetry reader, that does not mean that a work of poetry won’t find a decent reception. The same reasoning applies to all kinds of fiction and nonfiction. In terms of the works themselves, obviously the quality of a translation – how lightly and easily it rests in its new language – plays a role in the attractiveness or quality of the newly rendered work. Because of my own background as an editor, one of my personal pet peeves is the editing process, which is often skimped on by publishers these days. Regardless of the quality of the translation, I am more likely to set aside a poorly edited work then one that feels “clean” to me.

As a translator, what are some of the challenges you encounter in rendering a foreign book for English-language readers?

Prior to moving into the literary translation space, I was an editor and a more general translator. Having now experienced translation from a couple of corners, one main difference between literary translators and other translators is the issue of style and voice. And not just subjective style, but what “works” in English. The most fulfilling experiences I have had with contemporary authors have involved equal measures of trust and flexibility. The authors who are aware that dogged adherance to their sentence structures and language choices will not necessarily produce a fine work in translation, are the most librerating and powerful partners. With such support, the rendering and localization of a text is an exciting and challenging process. For me personally, dialogue is a challenge. The text itself is often easy enough to reimagine into English, but casting it into distinct voices is a completely different matter. I often read these passages out loud to just “hear” if an English speaker would actually say something a particular way.

Your small press, Weyward Sisters Publishing, brings crime and noir fiction written by female authors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to English-language readers. Do you know of other small presses working with translated literature and limited focus? What’s the outlook, in your opinion, for these highly specialized publishing houses?

Yes, I am aware of a few more limited-focus publishers. Le French Book publishes French crime fiction in translation, while Plamen, Pica Pica, Istros, Gallic, and Kurodahan all publish region-specific works in translation. I would like to think that the outlook for these presses is rosy. As a translator who has worked with and submitted works to other presses, I know the feeling that comes with the perception that you are up against the world. And since many of the presses in the international literature space are small, indie houses, the odds of “your” work getting picked up are relatively slim. Furthermore, as some publishers are rightly trying to diversify their source language base and favor other regions and languages, German and French works may find themselves falling increasingly out of favor. Nonetheless, regardless of the statistics, most US readers have not read all that many contemporary works from either of these languages. It may be that the specialized presses will, through their concentrations, excite new readers for these continuingly rich literary cultures.

Thank you Rachel for you time and insightful replies, and best of luck with your endeavors. 

 

 

 

 

 

Intervista con amore

Grazie a Amneris Di Cesare per l’intervista! (Translation in English below.)

http://babettebrown.it/amneris-di-cesare-e-lori-hetherington-traduttrice/FOTO_Lori Hetherington

Lori Hetherington: come traduco la parola “amore”

Today we have the opportunity to meet Lori Hetherington, a familiar figure at EWWA events and the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera. Amneris Di Cesare conducts the interview.

  1. How did you become a translator? When did you decide to enter this profession? I got started more than twenty years ago when I began doing linguistic revision of scientific articles for some professors from the University of Florence and, a short time later, other professors asked if I could translate their works for publication in international journals. For many years I worked primarily in the scientific field, but I almost never got a chance to use interesting adjectives! My parents were both journalists and I have always loved writing and reading almost anything I can get my hands on. After many—I think probably thousands—of pages about scientific discoveries and experiments, I began to approach fiction and creative nonfiction translation and now the majority of my work is of this type.
  2. Do you work for a particular publisher? No, my translations are from Italian to English and I work mostly with independent authors who want to reach English language readers.
  3. What sort of qualities does a person need to be a translator? Is it necessary to have a university degree or special qualifications? I’d say there are two essential qualities: you need to be able to write your native language well and you need to read a lot. A university degree or other professional certificates may be requested by a publisher or editor or can help you have greater knowledge about the tools used in the profession, but they’re not mandatory in order to translate well.
  4. What kind of books do you translate? Do you focus on one particular genre? I like to translate the genres that I love to read, in other words women’s and literary fiction, historical novels, creative nonfiction, and a bit of romance.
  5. Is there a standard method for translation or does each translator develop their own personal approach? How do you approach a translation? Each translator has their own. It’s the final result that counts! When I’m presented with a new project, I first read the text several times from various points of view in order to enter into a sort of synergy with the voice of the author. Then I create an initial draft of the translated text, staying as close to the original as possible, giving very little attention to the structure of the sentences. In this way I transfer the original author’s precise words into English. And finally, I turn my attention to revision, working in layers until I’m satisfied with the new English version.
  6. Who was the first author you translated? In the beginning I translated authors’ proposals for publishers or literary agents—the standard “first three chapters plus synopsis” requested by most of them for submission. It was a great way to understand better what works (or doesn’t) in the English-language market.
  7. What translation project have you enjoyed the most? That’s like asking a parent which of their children they love the most! I have loved every project in a different way. If I didn’t feel close to them, I wouldn’t take them on in the first place.
  8. In order to translate a literary work, does a translator need to have the skills of a writer? The job of the translator is to rewrite the book in another language: the original author creates the story, the characters, and the setting but only in one language. The translator is driven by the author, but the translator has to choose what path to take.
  9. What elements come into play in determining the quality of a translation? The translated text needs to seem as if it were “born” in that language but the original author needs to be able to recognize it as his or her own child, at least in theory since the author is not always proficient in the language of the translation. The reader should be unaware of the hand of the translator.
  10. Is it more important for a professional translator to know the source language or the target language? One of the rules of the profession is that you translate toward your mother tongue. In other words, you translate a foreign text into your own language. I may be able to write more or less correctly in Italian but, even though I’ve lived in Italy for thirty years, I will never have the fluency that I have in English. In addition, by living in the country where my target language is spoken, that language is an integral part of my being on a daily basis, which helps my understanding of the nuances runs deep.
  11. When you are faced with a text to translate that is lacking in quality, what do you do? Have you ever refused a work for this reason? A good translator refuses a project that they feel they’re unable to do well. It may be because it’s a genre for which they don’t have affinity, a project that requires more skill than they have, or a text or author they don’t completely believe in. The quality of the source text is important because translation brings every tiny defect in a manuscript to the surface. The translation phase is not the most suitable moment to do major editing.
  12. Is it possible to make a living as a translator in Italy? Most of the translators I know translate a wide range of texts: websites, publicity or technical texts, magazine articles, books. A person can make a living in this profession by diversifying the types of texts they work on but, at the same time, creating specialization in terms of areas of expertise.
  13. Do you have interaction with the authors you translate? Do you ever ask an author to clarify aspects of his or her text? That’s when I do my best work! I like to work as part of a team and so when I consider taking on a project one of the questions I ask myself is whether I’d be able to work well with the author. For some translators the act of translation is solitary and they do their best work mostly on their own. I prefer it to be a collaboration.
  14. What book are you translating now? As usual I’m working on several projects, although each one is in a different phase. I’m working on the final production phase of a self-published book with authors Elena and Michela Martignoni entitled ‘The Lustful Youth of Rodrigo Borgia’. I’m nearly finished with the first draft of the first title in a romance series by Elisabetta Flumeri & Gabriella Giacometti, and I’m about to start on a project with an Italian chef who lives in the USA and has started a foundation to help disadvantaged children and families. This latter project is quite unique as it will require me to do translating, editing, and ghostwriting.
  15. Are there specific things an aspiring translator should do if they want to break into the field? What advice would you give them? I would advise them, first of all, to consider themselves an entrepreneur and to jump in with both feet. Attend workshops, book presentations, go to libraries and bookshops, enroll and actively participate in associations, such as EWWA, travel abroad. Practice every day like an athlete who’s training for a competition. Read constantly, join authors’, translators’ and/or readers’ groups on Facebook. When you have a passion—and to be a good translator you have to be passionate about your work—everything you do is linked, in some way, to that passion.
  16. With the advent of self-publishing, amateur or “do it yourself” translation is becoming more widespread. What do you think of translation platforms such as Babelcube and nonprofessional translations? Self-publishing does not necessarily mean “do it yourself”. It’s important to make one thing clear. With the tools available, anyone can self-publish any text and if the final product satisfies them, great. However, professional self-publishing of professional writers means engaging other professionals in order to offer a high quality product. There are extremely few authors (in other words, practically none) who are able to do everything—editing, cover design, formatting, promotion—themselves and in a professional way. Most indie authors identify where they are weakest and invest their resources appropriately since the help of professionals can be expensive. An I’ll-do-it-all-myself approach generally doesn’t give optimal results. With regard to platforms such as Babelcube, I think they can satisfy the needs of the first group of people I mention above.
  17. Thanks to both ebooks and self-publishing, increasing numbers of readers in Italy are looking to get their hands on foreign titles translated into Italian. Many small Italian publishing houses are, as a result, forced to turn to translators to get published novels onto the market as quickly as possible. However, it’s a costly endeavor and sometimes the smaller houses can’t afford it. What do you think about the increasing number of amateur and/or part-time translators who work with small publishers for quick translations? And, in your opinion, how will this phenomenon evolve over time? You’ve pushed one of my buttons! I know experienced translators who have been approached by publishers offering shameful contracts. Translators do not live on air alone and they have to pay their bills and buy diapers for their children just like everyone else. I believe that if a publishing house wants to give readers a quality product, they have to recognize the professionalism of translators: in economic terms including a percentage of royalties when appropriate, with adequate recognition and attribution, and by providing sufficient time to do a good job. Furthermore, if readers find translated texts that are poorly executed and/or the translator’s name does not appear on the title page, in my opinion they should stop buying that publisher’s books. I understand the difficulties faced by small publishers but the entire industry is undergoing great evolution and I think they need to be willing to make changes if they want to survive.

Thank you, Lori. Thank you for your stimulating questions. I hope that I have offered your readers a new way of seeing my profession.

PREMIO DI TRADUZIONE / TRANSLATION AWARD

Complimenti alla traduttrice Anne Milano Appel come vincitrice del premio Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) 2015 per la sua traduzione del libro “Blindly” di Claudio Magris. Il primo anno per l’assegnazione di questo importante premio ($5000), è un piacere vedere riconosciuta la Sig.ra Appel, una traduttrice di qualità da quasi vent’anni.

I premi letterari possono attirare molta attenzione a un genere o, come in questo caso, a titoli tradotti da una lingua particolare. Ci sono alcune persone che criticano i principali premi letterari perché, secondo loro, sono sempre i soliti vincitori. Mi pare, però, che la giuria abbia fatto un’ottima scelta dalla lista dei cinque candidati.

E’ la mia speranza che questo nuovo premio porti maggiore riguardo per tutti i generi di libri tradotti dall’italiano all’inglese.

blindly

Congratulations to translator Anne Milano Appel as winner of the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) 2015 for her translation of “Blindly” by Claudio Magris. This is the first year the prize ($5000) has been awarded and it is a pleasure to see it go to Ms. Appel who has been a quality translator for nearly twenty years.

Literary prizes can attract considerable attention to a genre or, in this case, to titles translated from a particular language. Some people criticize major literary prizes because they believe they are awarded to the same small group of authors or translators year after year. Considering the shortlist for this award, it would seem that the jury made an excellent choice.

It is my hope that this new award will help shine even more light on books of all genres translated from Italian into English.

Revisione di un testo / Revising a text

Ogni traduttore ha il proprio modo di lavorare, però ci sono praticamente sempre gli stessi passaggi: lettura, prima stesura, e revisione. Fra questi tre, la revisione è sempre quello che richiede più tempo e attenzione. Infatti, sono quasi sempre necessari più revisioni per trovare quella giusta combinazione di voce, ambientazione e sensazioni.

Spesso, durante la revisione di una traduzione, vengono fuori delle sorprese: ogni piccolo difetto in un’opera viene ampliato con la traduzione. Come quel testo venisse esaminato sotto un microscopio. Questo succede perche la traduzione offre la possibilità di vedere il lavoro da un altro punto di osservazione, portando a galla problemi nascosti. Per esempio, se tu stampi il file del tuo manoscritto – controllato già tante volte per errori di ortografia e contenuto – cosa trovi? Errori! Cambiando la forma permette di vederlo con occhi nuovi.

Quando fai tradurre il tuo libro, possono emergere problemi di punteggiatura o sintassi, problemi con il punto di vista o la narrazione, debolezze nella trama o la costruzione dei personaggi. Anche agli scrittori più esperti sfuggono piccole dettagli. Risolvere questi problemi in un modo che rispetti l’intenzione dell’autore richiede un rapporto scrittore-traduttore forte e collaborativo.

Certamente non suggerisco di rivolgersi ad un traduttore esclusivamente per portare in superficie i difetti nel tuo testo, ma la traduzione dà una opportunità di rendere il tuo libro ancora più forte.

proofreading

Every translator has his or her own way of working. However, there are essentially three standard steps: read, rough draft, revision. And among these, revision always takes the most time and attention, in large part because numerous revision steps are typical in order to find the right combination of voice, setting, and emotion.

Surprises often appear during the revision of a translation. Every little defect in a text gets magnified with the translation process, as if the pages are put under a microscope. This happens because translation offers the chance to see the work from another observation point, bringing hidden problems into the open. For example, if you print the file containing your manuscript (the manuscript you’ve checked and rechecked for spelling mistakes and content errors), what will you find? Mistakes! Changing the format allows you to see the text with new eyes.

When you have your book translated, all sorts of complications may appear: errors in punctuation and syntax, difficulties with point of view or story arc, weaknesses in the plot or in the characters. Even with the most experienced writers there are little details that slip through the cracks. Resolving these problems in a way that respects the author’s original intent requires a good, strong relationship between author and translator.

Of course I’m not suggesting you should turn to a translator only to bring the defects in your text to the surface, but translation does offer an opportunity to make your book even stronger.

Intervista Collettivo Idra / Interview

Recentemente, Christina B. Assouad mi ha intervistato sul mestiere di traduttrice. Christina cura la rubrica Beauty Case per il Collettivo Idra, un grande contenitore dove le protagoniste sono le donne e ciò che nella letteratura le riguarda. Inoltre alla sua grande passione per la scrittura e il cioccolato fondente, Christina, insieme al Collettivo Idra, ha firmato i romanzi collaborativi “Social Singles” e “Tutto il resto è rasta: cinque ragazze in Giamaica.”

Recently, Christina B. Assouad interviewed me for her column Beauty Case, as part of the Collettivo Idra website, about my work as a literary translator. According to the site, Collettivo Idra is “a place for women and all things dealing with literature in its feminine form.” In addition to Christina’s great passion for writing and dark chocolate, she is one of the authors, in conjunction with Collettivo Idra, of the collaborative novels Social Singles and Tutto il resto è rasta: cinque ragazze in Giamaica. The following is a translation of the interview.

Hello Lori and welcome to Beauty Case.

Hi Christina, thanks for inviting me.

 To start, I’d like you to tell us something about how a person becomes a literary translator. Is there a well defined path to follow or is it a job that comes out of being fluent in a language and having a great passion for books? What has been your experience?

There are essentially two ways to become a literary translator: the academic route, with a degree in foreign language and literature followed by specialization courses in translation, and of course supported by periods abroad; or ‘by chance’ after having gotten a good start in another field. Translators coming from these two paths approach the profession differently but, in my opinion, both can be equally valid. Personally, I belong to the latter group.

I grew up in a journalistic family and love the subtleties that can be expressed with a language. I came to Italy in 1986 and after a few years began working with scientific translations (and I still do), but I realized I missed using adjectives!

Whichever way a person becomes a translator, I’d say the defining factor is having a good feeling about what you translate.

Can you tell us three characteristics a person needs if they want to be a translator? Of course, if there are more than three, don’t hesitate to share them…

The first and, as far as I’m concerned, most important to translate successfully in any field is to write well. A person can learn to write and can improve their skills, but a gift from Mother Nature is important from the start.

In addition, a translator needs to be a perfectionist and well organized. Generally I have a number of projects going simultaneously: for example I may be reading a manuscript in preparation to start translating while I’m revising another text I’ve just translated, and meanwhile an author may need my urgent help with a synopsis to send to an agent, and still another has made changes that need to be woven into an already completed work. And all this needs to be done with maximum precision!

Like in any field it’s also necessary to be professional, which means respecting deadlines, knowing how to listen and being flexible.

When you’re working on a translation, have you ever thought “I would have written this paragraph differently” or “I would have made the protagonist more…”?

It’s inevitable! There are lots of ways to transmit ideas and sensations and a translator considers the alternatives.

In any case, the way I face this dilemma is through direct contact with the author. Working with a writer—for example to prepare a text for self-publication or to submit the first chapters to a foreign agent or publisher for evaluation—I try to encourage him/her to have a critical eye. First of all, I’m a reader and if something doesn’t make sense to me, I talk with the author. Make no mistake, I’m not a literary critic but I do ask questions in an attempt to close up any holes. In fact, translation tends to bring defects in a manuscript to the surface, offering an opportunity to improve the overall work.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that readers in other countries often have different tastes about what they read and I think it’s part of my job to help the author understand this. For example, American readers generally want there to be a hook in a story right from the beginning; too much explanation or backstory can bore the reader. I think it’s my duty to express my opinions in hopes of finding successful solutions.

 It’s a delicate job making words travel from one language to another. How difficult is it to translate [in Italian tradurre] without betrayal [tradire]?

You’re right, it is a real challenge. In fact, this is why I prefer to collaborate with an author whenever possible. I like to hear her voice (not only on the page), see how she moves, hear her laugh, and talk about what’s behind the story. The other thing that helps me is to read the text I’m translating at least three times. The first time so that it leaves me with an impression, the second time I read it in greater depth and pay attention to the details, and finally I read it with an eye toward the dynamics between the various parts. I want to feel the story has worked its way inside me. And then I do more or less the same thing with the translated text. It’s a good thing I like to read!

When you’ve finished a project, have you ever gotten so hooked on it that you feel a bit like a coauthor?

 More than coauthor, I feel like the midwife. For an author, that book is her baby, and I work to bring about its (re)birth so that it’s healthy and strong in translation. Usually a literary translator works either for a publisher, for herself on texts from the public domain, or for the author. In the first case, the translator has to stick to the original text as closely as possible since contact with the author is minimal or nonexistent. In the second case, since the author is generally no longer living the translator is free to interpret the text, and in the last case it’s a matter of collaboration. Personally, I like teamwork, but each translator has his/her preferences and strengths.

Do you have a website or can you suggest any for further information about your profession?

I’ve got a site at www.lhetheringtontranslation.com, and readers can find a wealth of information about literary translation and translators at www.biblit.it.

Ben arrivato 2014! / Glad you’re here, 2014!

Un altro anno nuovo, e sono piena di ottimismo! Aspetto grande cose dal 2014. Perché?

L’anno scorso ho avuto l’occasione di conoscere molto persone nuove, in particolare al Women’s Fiction Festival di Matera nel mese di settembre e tramite la European Writing Women Association (EWWA) che è nata poco dopo. Inoltre, ho iniziato di frequentare un gruppo per scrittori: una volta la settimana ci troviamo per leggere i nostri scritti e chiedere suggerimenti e opinioni. Opportunità come queste possono assomigliare un tesoro inaspettatamente trovato e possono trasformare il nostro approccio alla scrittura.

Generalmente pensiamo alla nostra passione come un’attività da fare in solitudine. E spesso è proprio così. Ma vorrei evidenziare – in giallo fosforescente – l’importanza e utilità di leggere a voce alta i propri scritti ad altri scrittori, aspiranti o professionisti che siano. Con i nostri simili, possiamo provare forme nuove, sbagliare, migliore, confrontarci, gioire, esprimerci, ricevere la critica costruttiva, e festeggiare con persone che comprendono, nel loro profondo, cosa vuol dire mettersi in gioco attraverso la parola scritta. Certo, può essere utile far leggere tuo manoscritto da amici e parenti, ma l’occhio di un altro scrittore porta una valenza imparagonabile.  Infatti, lo scambio di opinioni e esperienze diventa essenziale quando lavoriamo principalmente da soli. Il feedback che si può ricevere in un gruppo di scrittori ti stimola in ogni fase della scrittura, dalla prima idea alla stesura e le revisioni, e all’importante momento di inviare tuo manoscritto all’editor.

Ed è una strada a due direzioni! Leggendo i lavori degli altri ti aiuta a migliorare i tuoi scritti. In parte perché sviluppa il tuo occhio critico, ma anche perché ti spinge ad esaminare le tue parole da un punto di vista nuovo. Spesso lo scrittore con più esperienza nel gruppo trova qualcosa di fresco e diverso quando lui/lei partecipa in un gruppo di questo genere, e quello dilettante trova uno spazio protetto per la propria voce.

Quindi, guardiamo 2014 come un anno per migliore le nostre capacità, con un desiderio di crescere e far sentire le nostre voci. Buon anno a tutti!

Here we are with another new year before us, and I’m full of optimism! I have high hopes for 2014. Why? you ask.

Last year I had occasions to meet many new people, in particular at the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera in September and through the European Writing Women Association (EWWA) that formed shortly thereafter. In addition, I’ve started attending a weekly writers’ group. These interactive opportunities can feel like a long-lost treasure and can transform the way we approach writing.

We generally think of this passion of ours as a solitary activity. In fact, time and space to work on your manuscript privately is greatly important. But I’d like to highlight – using the brightest shade of yellow possible – the importance and usefulness of reading your work out loud to other writers, whether they’re amateurs or professionals. Together with people who share your same love for the written word, it’s possible to try new forms, make mistakes, improve, test yourself, rejoice, receive constructive criticism and celebrate with others who understand deep down inside what it means to put yourself “out there” through your writing. Sure, it can be helpful to have your friends and family read your manuscript, but another writer’s eye provides an unparalleled perspective. Indeed, when so much of the work is done alone, an exchange of opinions and experiences becomes essential. Feedback from a writers’ group can stimulate you during each step of the process, from your initial idea, to carving out the first draft and rewrites, and all the way up to that important moment when you send your manuscript off to an editor.

And one of the best things about sharing with other writers is that it’s a two-way street! Reading what others have written helps you with your own writing: in part because it develops your critical eye, and also because it pushes you to look at what you’ve written from a new perspective. Often more experienced writers find freshness and novelty when they participate in group settings, while  new authors find a sheltered place to test their own voice.

So, let’s look at 2014 as a year to work on our skills, with a renewed desire to grow and make our voices heard.

Happy new year to all!