Exactly one year ago today I made my first contribution to volare, a translation of the Tang dynasty short story “Nie Yinniang”. It was a guest post as I had yet to join volare. Three weeks later I learned about The Sketch Artist. etvolare mentioned it casually as we were chatting about future projects. This was good timing for me because for several weeks already I had been looking for a novel I might be able to translate on volare. My interactions with other translators on the Discord server made me want to be a part of volare too.
The Sketch Artist, though, is a crime/romance novel with a contemporary setting, and I had only ever translated wuxia, so it was actually quite daunting. Contemporary colloquialisms and slang were not familiar to me and more difficult to look up than ancient idioms. Translating that first chapter honestly made me question my ability as a translator; I was surprised by how difficult it was for me. etvo’s encouragement after reading my first few chapters gave me the confidence to continue. It took me a while to find my legs for this novel, even so.
A year later, and The Sketch Artist is finished and the people of volare have become like a second family to me. I should have finished this novel a long time ago but it tested me in more ways than one. I hope everyone who has read to the end has enjoyed it. I did.
That ending though, I didn’t like when I first read it. Because I only read that last chapter to peek at what became of Zhang Chi and Gu Shi, but the last chapter is vague in its reasoning, so I ended up not liking it. I should have read the chapter before that! Having read all of it, I quite like the ending. I can imagine many will not, but I think it makes a lot of sense and Zhang Chi’s decision fits his character.
Special thanks to the author, Teresa Ge, for writing The Sketch Artist. It was refreshing to read and translate a character-driven novel, and this too was a crime novel unlike any I have read. The language is her own; she doesn’t just use the same clichéd phrases over and over. It was also a different kind of romance. More subtle, more real, I feel, than most. The characters peopling this novel act the way people really act.
I have to apologize, though, because I know I didn’t translate it well enough. I tried hard to get it right, but I faltered many times. But I will make it better in revisions before it goes to press as an ebook.
Thanks also to everyone at volare for all the encouragement, all the chatting and joking around and sharing. I look forward to much more of it. You all are the best. Thanks to etvolare for bringing this novel to my attention and letting me translate it, and for giving me confidence at times when I wasn’t able to give it to myself.
Lastly, thanks to all the readers. It’s you who make volare possible and make it worth translating for, and I feel volare’s community of readers really is a special bunch.
So, see you around. You can find me still translating the wuxia novel, Song of Exile (and lurking in ROS and PGC announcement posts and comments >_>)
July 7, 2018