In our last webinar for beginning translators, Una said that there is no secret knowledge that would let you magically start getting clients. And if there were one, somebody would have by all means already divulged it somewhere on the web.
I readily agreed, but this actually got me thinking. What if such secret knowledge exists? Not just for getting clients, but to achieving success in general — whatever "success" means for you.
And I realized that, at least for me, it does.
Back in 2012, my professional situation was pretty much hopeless. For the last three years I'd been working in the Russian office of a German telecom software vendor, and it had gone broke overnight in early April. Luckily, I managed to get some compensation from it before it dissolved into nothingness.
So what do you do when you have no job, most of your past clients have all but forgotten you, and you have just enough money to let your family sustain the next half a year or so? I guess you turn on “fuel economy” and either go looking for a “real job” or start freelancing as hell, taking on any job that comes your way, however boring or low-paid it is, right?
To me, both ways were wrong.
Instead, I used a hefty chunk of the money to buy three one-way tickets to Montenegro and give myself a one-month vacation to get my nerves back to normal and rely on the currents of fortune to bring some solution my way.
Which was a pretty stupid thing to do with no income whatsoever, right?
But somehow I knew it would turn out fine.
After a month, I decided that I would not be going against my principles to never take on work that I don't feel like doing. So I started searching for jobs that I would love doing.
Given my prolonged absence in the translation world, the search was going on rather slowly. In six months, the money bag had almost depleted, and the monthly income I’d reached by then would have been just enough to live on, but quite unlike the way we would want to.
So what did I do? I just worked on, still somehow knowing that things were going to improve.
On one of those nights, I was translating an excerpt from Russell‘s History of Western Philosophy. The fragment I was working on said, “There is here a reciprocal causation: the circumstances of men's lives do much to determine their philosophy, but conversely, their philosophy does much to determine their circumstances.”
And that’s when I had a sort of epiphany. In the top right of my CAT tool’s screen there was a button with a question mark. I had pressed this button so many times in the past to suggest new features and improvements that I had — as I later learned — become a household name in the developer’s support team.
But this time I was not going to submit a feature suggestion. I opened the feedback window and typed in, “Guys, are you looking for colleagues maybe?”.
Two weeks later I became a support engineer of that company, and three more months later — its “head of community”.
Today, some half a year later, I am the happiest worker in the world. I continue translating stuff I care about and, more than that, I’m helping other translators find their way in the profession. Everything turned out better than I would have ever dreamt of — and yet somehow I feel I knew it would, all the way.
I have no idea if this happiness will last for long. And I’m not holding onto it as some precious find that will be defining me for times to come.
Somehow, I know — and this is my Secret Knowledge — that everything will work out for the best.
What an irony: We keep looking for the secret knowledge all around. But sometimes, you find it inside.
That’s how I found mine.
And I would gladly share it with you, but I'm afraid — no, I hope — yours lies within you.
The question is, are you ready to find it?