A Translator as A Writer

I was always amazed by translators that manage to translate pieces of poetry in a successful and imaginative manner. I never really got into actually doing it myself. Poetry, literature and anything else that requires the flair of a writer seems a rather difficult or impossible task for me. In school, I was never good at writing compositions and essays expressing my own views on paper, (yes, we did use to handwrite back then!). My writing was blunt and emotionless, as one of my teachers had confirmed.

The Challenge

Recently, I was asked by a regular client of mine to actually copy write the original texts for his hotel website. I was invited to go and stay for a night at the hotel, dine at the restaurant and try to experience it as if I was one of the guests residing at the hotel (minus the alcohol and the bill!).

The Mindset

In the beginning, I thought it would be impossible for me to actually achieve the result he might have in mind. While packing a small weekend bag with all the necessities needed for this short trip, million thoughts were flooding my head: how can I impersonate a tourist, what language does convince individuals to choose one hotel when there are so many on the same island (it needs to be pointed out that there are nearly 1551 hotels in Crete, estimated in 2008), how do I manage to get in such messes like all the time? No, Konstantina! Try to stay focused and see it as a challenge rather than a problem! You could still say “no”, at the end of the day (or end of the stay!!!).

The Method

I took my little notepad with me and I set off! Arriving at the hotel, the manager was expecting me at the reception (no red carpet!). He was one of the staff members that actually witnessed the birth of the hotel. He knew everything! We started our quest with a coffee in the sunshine, by the glittering sea, under the hot Cretan sun (I could easily get used to this!!).  Then, we went for a tour round the premises and he showed me a room of every room type. Hmm, some guests do have a fantastic stay in this hotel! Oh, and lunch! Well done to the Chef… it is not food he creates, it is pieces of art! Having collected all the information I needed and a hand-full of brochures and leaflets, I was on the way back home. The easy part was over. The hard one was just beginning!

The Outcome

A day later, sitting on the desk chair, my computer on and a cup of hot mouthwatering coffee, I am staring at the empty wall. BLANK! And then, it magically happened! Words were typed as if automatically, words became sentences and sentences became paragraphs! BANG! The first draft was ready. Then, I did some sort of a research: I knew there was a book of poetry somewhere on a shelf of my bookcase! I read some of the poems, got inspired by the talent of famous Greek poets, adopted adjectives, and designed scenes in my head!

The Impression

A few days passed and I decided I could no longer develop the text so I called it THE FINAL DRAFT and forwarded to my hotelier friend. Minutes lasted longer than ever before, days were simply endless. Then, I get the call! The text has already been uploaded on the site and I need to check that everything is placed properly by a programmer. And there, it took only a click and my text was visible to everyone, all around the globe! Time passed and I get a call from another hotelier asking for a price quote! No flattery, no words of praise! It started nearly as a joke but it turned out to be new revenue channel opening its door to me.

A Comment

OK, yes, writing the texts for a hotel website is not poetry. It is more a commercial piece of work but it does need some kind of imaginative writing. To me, even achieving this small fraction of writing is beyond my wildest dreams (in fact, it never had even crossed my mind!).

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