My office and the big world out there

Working as a freelance translator can be a somewhat lonely existence. You want some praise? Well, there’s always the freelance thanks website. Clickety click! Works Christmas lunch for one? I’ve done it. And I actually rather enjoyed it. Even so, it’s good to build up networks, groups of people you can share your work stories with and help one another out with advice, encouragement and maybe even the occasional bit of gossip. I’ve been lucky enough this week to meet up with two groups of fellow freelancers and to mix up life as a long-distance freelancer with the more sociable side of things.

Today, at the Vertalershuis in Amsterdam, I met up with a bunch of fellow literary translators and we chatted over tea and birthday cake about translation, publishing, contracts – and cake.

And last weekend saw the first ever conference of the Dutch chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: The Netherlands and the Big World Out There – Publishing inthe Global Market.

Writers and illustrators (and a translator!) came from the Netherlands, France, Germany and the UK to listen to talks and attend workshops with publishing professionals including Martine Schaap from Ploegsma in Amsterdam, Ben Norland, the executive art director at Walker Books in the UK, award-winning author and illustrator Doug Cushman, app developer Omar Curiëre, writer and creative writing instructor Sarah Blake Johnson and agent Erszi Deàk from Hen & Ink Literary Studio.

It was a fantastic weekend of chatting, listening, eating, drinking, all around the theme of children’s books. I hosted a panel discussion about the place of children’s books in the global market (does the ‘global market’ exist?) and about the transferability of books from one country/language/market to another. We didn’t reach many conclusions, but we certainly had a lot to talk about, and the discussion continued that evening when we all headed out for an Indonesian rijsttafel at Sampurna by the floating flower market.

The organisers of the conference, Mina Witteman and Rachelle Meyer, deserve huge praise. They’re already talking about repeating the event next year and I certainly hope they do. Even the most independent of long-distance freelancers enjoys a little professional socialising every now and then…

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