Please refrain from sending unsolicited manuscripts

In the movie of my life, these past few weeks would be the part where the protagonist takes charge of the situation and, to the notes of a sassy, uplifting pop song, makes the necessary steps to turn around their life (think Woods-comma-Elle, buying an orange PowerBook in a Playboy Bunny suit – mental image courtesy of Princess Pumpkin).

I have been struggling with decisions to make about my life, and one of my resolutions is to actually DO translation work. I have the credentials, I have experience, I believe I have the skills – I just need to find work. I decided that it would be good for me to pursue the goal of obtaining a literary translation contract, and have spent weeks researching the most suitable authors to be triumphantly introduced to the Italian readership. I thought I had the perfect candidate in a trendy, yet controversial writer with a varied range of publications – novels, essays and anthologies, which presumably could keep me going for a while if all goes well.

First though, I have to convince myself I actually like the books. Because, well, I don’t.

On the plus side I don’t think it’s her books in particular, I just don’t agree with them. They are  “chick lit”. This, so I learn, is the genre that gave us Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw. I am a devotee of Helen Fielding, and have seen all episodes of Sex & The City back to back. Problem is, I think I have totally grown out of the genre and I don’t find it as compelling as I used to – possibly because it usually appeals to a very Westernised and heterosexual image of womanhood, which was new and fabulous in the nineties but I feel is a bit naive these days. And sometimes just outright foolish. Men needing to be interpreted like tarot cards, deciphered like Morse messages, and relationships navigated like a game of Jumanji. Women being absolutely irrational bundles of hormones most of the time, except for the fact that they have high-responsibility jobs and stellar careers and seem to drink themselves into oblivion every other day.  I mean, it’s escapism, and it’s all good, but at any rate, I have moved on.

Now though I find myself with this book – one of several – which I, personally, wouldn’t pick, but that many other people would probably love it and should read it because it has characters that are not common for books of this type. It really would be a great translation project. As for the genre, oh well. Women – apparently – like this stuff, so who am I to judge? I would only be the translator. And ultimately I believe that the themes she introduces and her characters should be known. And this is more important  than personal taste…

So I will take this on, find a publisher, and then bang my head against the wall. But I really, truly think it’ll be worth it.

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