Why I can’t translate my own books


So, tonight I was rereading the French translation of Harbinger and finishing up with a few troublesome notes. Here’s a sample scene from that endeavour: I’m sitting in the sofa with the French translation on my knees, and going through my own notes. From time to time, I’ll ask a question to my husband that goes something like this:

Me: “Here, listen to this. Do you think there’s something wrong with it?”
The H, frowning: “Er. No. Quite honestly no. It’s just you trying to apply English grammar to the text.”
Me: “What about this? Don’t you think it’s too modern for the time period?”
The H, still frowning: “Hum… Probably.”
Me: “What would you replace it with? I’m coming up blank…”
[The H rolls his eyes upwards, but agrees to brainstorm suggestions with me for a bit]

And this, right here, is why I would make such a bad translator from English to French…

(let me reassure you that it’s nowhere as catastrophic as it seems, and that I manage most of the edits on my own, especially the translations of technical terms my wonderful translator–Laurent Philibert-Caillat–wasn’t entirely sure on. But about a fourth to a fifth of my edits have to go through my husband, to make sure that I’m not inserting random anglicisms into the text…)

In other news, the H forcibly put me in front of my computer Saturday morning, and insisted that I write something and stop moping on the internet. Whad’ya know, it actually worked. I broke 20k on the novella today–hit the first climax scene and the start of the spiral towards the end.
(one of the many, many reasons I’m happy to be married to the H)


  1. To a writer, a supportive and understanding spouse is worth their weight in gold. 🙂

  2. Oh yes.
    Even if he does badger me some times 😉

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