Freelance translators and holidays: An impossible marriage?

The freelance translator can have their computer anywhere, but the reality is that between sun and sea, a folder marked urgent will always pop up.

We all know that the freelance translator knows the art of flexibility with alarming dexterity. They can easily have their computer on a corner office, on their knees, on a ski-tow, located in New York, in the Himalayas or on a beach in the Seychelles. And this is the reality for the freelance translator : between sunscreen and a swimsuit, a small folder marked urgent will always pop up.

A unique customer-supplier relationship

We have all dreamed of this kind of work! Directly dealing with the client, to provide personalized and a more loyal management, without any intermediary, obliges us, even on holiday, to let the ice cubes melt by the poolside in order to meet the client’s minor requests. It is our biggest flaw, we do not know how to say no. The law of supply and demand is in force, especially when starting in the translation profession.

The nightmarish beginnings

Remember your debut as a freelance translator! This is the caricature : work a lot, search translation agencies, solicit and translate without counting the amount of hours. Only the poster stuck there, in front of you, on the wall, reminds you that coconuts and crystal clear beaches do indeed exist and that one day they will be all yours! But, alas, while waiting to make ripples in warm water, you plan for about three years in the hectic pace of ten hours a day, six days a week.

It’s a little vacation every day

Of course, not everything is so bleak.

Even if you work holidays for a translation that was due “yesterday”, it is important to know how to put things into perspective.

For that matter: at the moment, while writing this article I am at home, having done two hours work, translating in my pajamas, with my Ceylon tea, still warm in my favorite Spiderman cup and I am already thinking about going out to do some shopping. Work flexibility can be affected by the quality of the completed translation. Would a translation agency provide this flexibility? I doubt it.

To conclude, it is especially important to know to anticipate an agenda while planning a holiday. Despite mastering the work load, you must admit that there is often a problem. And unless you lock up bilingual slaves in the basement with the day´s instructions, I never leave my computer for more than a week, because the call of the QWERTY keyboard is too strong. We are connected or we are not.

Translation into English: Chloe Findlay

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