My Latest Project

As a lot of you know, my book, Despair! ( has been translated into Spanish by two young students at the Universidad Latina here in David, Stephany Peñaloza and Deyreth Garcia.

Stephany (L) Deyreth (R)

Stephany translated the first half of the book and Deyreth the other half. I had them send me their MSWord files of their translation and combined the two for a project I’ve had in mind. I spent several days going through the two files and formatting them so they’d work as an electronic book. Stephany had LOTS of extra spaces between words that had to be eliminated and she also used the “TAB” key a lot which throws off the formatting. And Deyreth’s version didn’t use quotation marks correctly so I had to painstakingly go through her version and insert them as needed. One thing I found in going through their versions was that I’d missed punctuation here and there in spite of having read it so many times I was sick of the story.

One of the requirements of their course was that they give me a bound copy of their work. I’d received Stephany’s several months ago and Deyreth wrote to me a couple of weeks ago saying her bound copy was ready and we needed to get together so she could give it to me. Another of the requirements of the course was that they could receive no financial remuneration for their work. My big brainstorm for a project needed their permission to publish their work side by side with mine and I needed to get them to sign away any rights they might have to their translation.

Yesterday I met the two of them at a fine Italian restaurant in David for dinner and explained what I had in mind and got them to sign my agreement to publish their translation. It could very well help them in the future, though, when they go looking for translation work. When asked if they can show any work they’ve done they can say, “Well, sure, here, I translated a BOOK!”

So, here’s what I’ve been working on. 1) I plan on offering the translation simply as a Spanish version of the book. 2) I am combining my original version of the book with their translation so English-speaking students who are studying Spanish can read the Spanish version followed immediately by the original. Like this:

No recuerdo cómo el viejo, Juan, vino a vivir con mi madre y conmigo. Parecía que siempre había estado allí. Él no tenía ningún parentesco con nosotros. No que yo supiera, de todos modos. Él simplemente estaba ‘allí. I don’t remember how the old man, Juan, came to live with my mother and me. It seemed he had always been there. He was no blood relation of ours. Not that I knew of, anyway. He was simply ‘there.’

De niño él me asustaba. No era nada por lo que él hiciese. Era sólo él. Corto de estatura, casi diminuto, su piel quemada por el sol estaba arrugada como una pieza de fruta seca. Siempre estaba encorvado. Aún de pie y apoyado en el viejo pedazo de rama de árbol que llevaba consigo a todas partes, él nunca estuvo erguido. Su espalda siempre estuvo doblada como si hubiera visto algo en el suelo y se había detenido por un segundo para obtener una mejor visión de ella. Cuando él había estado bebiendo no solamente se inclinaba ligeramente hacia adelante también se inclinaba de un lado al otro. Viendo sus brazos podrías decir, que alguna vez él había sido muy fuerte. Todavía se veían los músculos fornidos debajo de los diseños de tinta permanente en su piel. As a young child he scared me. It wasn’t anything he did. It was just him. Short of stature, tiny almost, his sun-weathered skin was wrinkled like a piece of dried up discarded fruit. He was forever hunched over. Even standing and leaning on the old piece of tree limb he carried with him everywhere he was never straight. His back was always bent as if he’d just spotted something on the ground and had stopped for a second to get a better look at it. When he’d been drinking he wasn’t just bent forward, he leaned to one side or the other, too.  You could tell, looking at his arms, that he had once been very strong. The muscles still rippled under the faded designs permanently inked into his skin.

Él nunca peinó su cabello. Era un blanco cegador y lo poco que quedaba de él creció en lugares aislados en la cabeza. Estaba como ligero y fino, cual la pelusa, como la flor de la planta del diente de león y que ni la más leve brisa lo haría agitarse. He never combed or brushed his hair.  It was blindingly white and what little there was of it grew in isolated spots on his head. It was as light and fine as dandelion fuzz and the slightest suggestion of a breeze would cause it to flutter nervously.

Sus ojos eran del azul más oscuro, como el color del mar, donde la línea recta del horizonte reúne el azul claro del cielo y que a menudo parecía que él estaba mirando fijamente a esa línea lejana donde todo lo que un marinero busca aparecerá en primer lugar. Y su nariz grande, como la de un halcón, hendida en el mar de su cara como la aleta de un tiburón surcando las tranquilas aguas dentro de un arrecife. His eyes were the darkest blue; like the color of the sea where the straight line of the horizon meets the lighter blue of the sky and it often seemed that he was staring intently at that distant line where whatever a seaman is looking for will first appear. And his large, hawk-like nose cleaved the sea of his face like a shark’s fin slicing through the calm waters inside a reef.

Él me dio miedo, el viejo Juan lo hizo, pero eso era cuando yo era joven. A medida que fui creciendo y poco a poco él reveló su historia, yo crecí con el amor del hombre y la maravilla de la aventura de su vida. He scared me, old Juan did, but that was when I was young. As I got older and he slowly revealed his story to me I grew to love the man and marveled at the adventure of his life.

For Spanish-speaking students the book will be presented in reverse with the English first followed by the Spanish translation. So far I’ve gotten the Spanish to English version finished and it wasn’t easy. It took me three complete working days to do it. I’ve got the first two chapters of the English to Spanish version done so far. When that’s done I’ll have to create a cover for the book that is different than the original so it won’t be confusing to people searching on line. I’ll let you all know when they are published.


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3 responses to “My Latest Project

  1. Hi Richard:

    You are doing a wonderful job helping these girls creating a foundation for their future as official translators. What I read makes a lot of sense, since I can understand both languages. The text is exact in both versions.

    Your pictures are excellent. Your new camera and the eye behind it are doing their job. Great job.



    The picture was taken with the old camera, simply cropped for this post.

    Thanks, Omar, but putting these versions of the book out for the public wasn’t done for completely altruistic reasons. I hope to make some money from it. I’ll send the girls copies so they can use them for any purpose they want, but I’m looking for bucks. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person and they DID sign an agreement with me and the school that they couldn’t earn any money from the translation. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t take them out to a nice restaurant that they normally wouldn’t go to from time to time, or to buy them something nice for their birthdays or Christmas that they wouldn’t spend the money on. It’s skirting the rules a bit, but if I can make some money from their translation why shouldn’t they get some benefit?

    I asked them if they were going to try and become official translators. They said they were going to try but that it was extremely tough to get accredited. Apparently there’s a really hard test and an individual only get’s three stabs at it. Fail the third time and you can never try again. They also said there’s a hefty fee that has to be paid when you take the test and while they didn’t say how much it seemed like it was something they’d have to save up for over a period of time. They’re nice girls and I bet they’ll be successful in their lives. After all, it takes some kind of stick-to-itevness to sit down and do a 30,000 word translation.

  2. What a terrific project! I know you’ve gotten a lot of pleasure from it to this point. This seems a natural next step, and it’s a wonderful way to encourage the girls.

    One thing to think about. Would it be worth separating the English and Spanish by a line? It might make it easier for someone to follow the text in one or another language without having to stop and figure out where the next section begins.

    This is the second time I’ve written this. Generally my USB modem is fine, but sometimes it simply cuts off and as happened trying to respond to your comment after writing a long explanation when I hit update I got the notice that the server couldn’t be found and everything I’d written just got blasted into cyber hell.
    Formatting the books English to Spanish and Spanish to English presented a challenge. Because they’re going to be sold on line to mostly Kindle and Nook readers you can’t do a side-by-side version. The screens aren’t that large so the text would be tiny and almost impossible to read.

    I chose the format of, say, English immediately followed by the Spanish translation in the same paragraph instead of line-by-line for a couple of reasons. 1) reading a paragraph gives the books some “flow.” The reader gets the whole sense of the paragraph without it being interrupted by a line and then a translation and another line. 2) Do you have any idea how hard that would be to do in two different versions? And really there isn’t any difficulty for a reader to see that the main language is plain text and immediately followed by the translation.

    It was hard enough doing it as I did. I took the Spanish version and italicized the whole thing. I then cut a paragraph from that version and pasted it behind the English paragraph. It took me TWO FULL WORKING DAYS to do that. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken line by line.

    Doing that I found a lot of problems with agreement of punctuation. Some mine, some theirs, and quotation marks were a real chore. I’m not sure I’ve got them right even now. It will require further checking.

    What I’m doing right now is I’ve taken the completed English to Spanish version and am going through it cutting out the English paragraphs and pasting them after the Spanish translation. Then I’ll have to go through it all again and change the Spanish italics version to regular text and italicize the English. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s really quite boring. But it’s getting done.

  3. I love your writing! Very cute style (I mean that as a compliment!). Future success to you, my friend!

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