Today I’ve been designing our Tricycle Readers flyer and think it looks rather good. I’m not sending it out quite yet, however, as there’s bound to be a typo somewhere, or a sentence that can be shortened or improved. The nature of writing is that you keep going back and finding things wrong. It’s why the first draft is only ever the beginning and the last draft doesn’t feel enough like the end, even when it’s on a shelf in Waterstones. While there is no such thing as perfection, there is always ‘better’.
Last night I went to see a Danish detective film with English subtitles. The words on the screen made sense but lacked sophistication. The script appeared to have been translated by someone with excellent text book, but little conversational, English. Police dramas in particular, tend to be littered with nuance, dark humour, and hidden clues. There was little evidence of that. The biggest crime of the night was that nobody had checked the first draft translation and worked on making it better.
Some of our best fiction is given to us by translators. When we read Murakami or Kafka, Isabel Allende or Stieg Larsson, we are reading their works through the eyes, the minds, and the understanding of translators who have gone through secondary processes of reframing and redrafting before giving us the definitive item. This is something we’ll look at through poetry, where different translations of the same work can be studied side by side. That’s another reason to join Tricycle Readers!
And if you spot any typos in the first draft flyer, please let me know.