Bonsoir – or indeed depending on your position relative to the sun, bonjour – and welcome to the 100 Day Writing Challenge Day 22.
You’ve almost ripped open an entire advent calendar’s worth of beautifully interlaced writing challenges. It’s like if behind each door were literary drugs that you could cram into your face to make you stronger. Om nom nom nom. Veins popping all over your dominant writing arm. The power. The unimaginable power.
Yesterday I asked, nay demanded you to write a biography of an author who doesn’t exist. What a weird thing to do. Who the hell do I think I am, sitting here like a mad emperor handing out whimsical fiats – no, not the car, fiat as in decree. I don’t know what a whimsical Fiat as in the car would look like – maybe it would have a huge papier mâché top hat on the roof and dispense Play Doh. We’ll never know.
Because I’m closing down that little quasi-amusing cul-de-sac, evicting all the residents and burning their houses to the ground – we have work to do.
So you know that author you created? I have big news. It turns out, you – yes, you, of all people – have been appointed their official translator. Their major works weren’t originally written in English, remember?
So what I’m going to ask you to do is produce, today, an extract from one of their earlier pieces, be it a novel, a short story or a poem, written after a major event in their life. An extract from one of their earlier pieces, written after a major event in their life. Um, you might like to start slap bang in the middle, or at the beginning. Doesn’t matter. You’re just translating their style into English, trying to capture their voice.
RS Thomas said that poetry in translation is like kissing someone through a handkerchief. But, as many poets have pointed out, kissing someone through a handkerchief is still pretty nice. Unless, I guess, it was recently used.
So get out your cleanest hankie, friend. Your time is at hand. Ten minutes, translating the voice of this author, a swatch of their work – you may well have mentioned some titles in your biography – into English. I know you can do it. You’ve been training. Just relax into it and see what comes up. I wouldn’t have chosen you for this task if I didn’t know you were the ideal person.
Ok. Here we go. Three… two… one… go.
And that’s it. You did so good to have a run at that. Hmm. I don’t want to say anymore at this stage, except to remind you to notice how you felt before, during and after the exercise. However it went. Please do keep what you just wrote and the biography at hand, and let’s meet up, same place, tomorrow.