[DWJ] Insomnia

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Jul 18 18:56:16 EDT 2006

Hello DWJers. I can't sleep. Very frustrating. I think it might be this new
drug I'm taking that's supposed to help prevent migraines, but instead seems
to be making me cranky and emotional and falling asleep during the day but
now it's nearly one am and I've been tossing and turning in bed for the past
two hours. I'm going to stop taking the drug, methinks, but tonight is a
lost cause.

One of the things this possibly drug-induced angst has made me realise is
just how many things I've been trying to juggle all at once recently. Many
things in my private life that I won't go into, but many many things in my
professional life some of which are actually even on topic for this list,
for instance the fact that I recently purchased the rights to translate into
Hebrew "Archer's Goon" and "The Homeward Bounders". And being angsty and
completely unable to sleep I need somewhere to write all the thoughts
chasing about in my head, so like it or not, here they are. (If you don't
like it, you don't have to read on.)

So... what is my current project? I have about a jiggelty-zillion projects
going on simultaneously. I've gone into publishing, investing some of my own
money in a small publishing house, and we just recently published our first
book which is Garth Nix's "Sabriel". So thing number one that I'm trying to
do is promote Sabriel.

Things number two and three were to find a copyeditor for our second book -
"Journey to the River Sea" by Eva Ibbotson - and a translator for our third
book, "Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel. Monday we FINALLY signed a contract with a
copyeditor for this book that I had originally hoped would be out by March,
ha ha. Finding a translator for "Airborn" is proving trickier than I
thought, and I sort of wonder why. I wonder if it is because most of the
translators I know are women, and this is many ways a boys' book, with the
aviation theme and pirates and all. At least two (female) translators have
turned it down because they "didn't connect". I have translation sample from
a man who is really a beginner in this field, it's not bad for a beginner,
but will require much more rewriting than an experienced translator's  work
would. I'm torn between continuing the agonizing search for a better
translator,  or simply hiring this beginner, which I worry I might regret.

Thing number four is "The Leviathan of Babylon" that many of you were kind
enough to read and comment about. Hagar has had some interest from an agent
and now wants me to translate several chapters, despite the fact that she
has received a professional evaluation of my translation as "needs some
work, clearly not done by a native speaker". I really want to do it, I
believe in the book, and I'd love to make the switch into translating from
Hebrew to English, which pays much better than vice versa and will be good
for my reputation. Besides which, there's this greedy thing that happens to
translators, when we read a book we really like we WANT to translate it, as
if translating it will make it our own. So I'll have to find some time for
that, too. And I'm nervous about my English not being natural enough.

Thing number five, currently on hold, at least until I actually get a
contract to do it, is translating Noel Streatfeild's "White Boots" into
Hebrew. Some of you may remember I translated "Ballet Shoes" a while ago,
and it ended up being a surprise hit. Not quite a bestseller, but almost. So
now the same publisher would like to do a whole series of Streatfeild, and
I'm the favored translator. Of course I'm very happy about this: this makes
me in a manner of speaking "THE" translator of Noel Streatfeild and it's
that whole coveting books that I want to make mine thing all over again. For
about a week when I had nothing else to do I started translating the book
even though I haven't yet officially signed a contract, and I got through
several chapters, rediscovering the book as I went along and falling in love
with it again, but then I got an actual contract for something else, and
it's been on hold since. But somewhere in the back of my mind it's as if the
book is still open and I can't shake it.

Thing number six is a tremendous project which I'm not supposed to talk
about for the time being, as it is something of a trade secret. But I think
I can say it involves translating a huge classic and doing massive amounts
of research, and it was an awful lot to take upon myself on a rather tight
schedule, even without all the other things I'm trying to do simultaneously.
I've done well over half of the translation, but that's only the tip of the
iceberg of work I've comitted to doing on this project. I must be insane. In
the end though, if I survive it, it will be one of the things I will be
proudest of having done in my career.

The Diana Wynne Jones books are things numbers seven and up, I'm afraid.
They will have to take a back seat to the other projects. I suppose I could
hire someone else to translate them, but these are books that I really
really really really want to translate myself. They are two of my favorite
DWJ's (hard as it is to pick) and again, I covet them.

I can't sleep, and yet tomorrow morning I need to be somewhat focused as I
call Terry Pratchett and interview him over the telephone, to promote his
latest book which has been translated into Hebrew. Yet another reason to be
antsy, but in a good way. I'm worried that I haven't actually finished
reading the book, even though none of the questions I want to ask are
directly related to the book but rather general questions about the
wonderfulness of Terry Pratchett. And I'm worried that my questions will be
trite, or arrogant, or annoying, or too fannish, or go over the heads of the
general public of not-necessarily-Pratchett-fanatics that will end up
reading the interview.

Then there's another insane big crazy idea that needs preparation, which is
that I would like to get myself an MfA and maybe even a PhD and gain some
kind of respectability. I've almost been offered teaching positions in
Israel, that were sort of retracted when it turned out I only had a measly
BA. And ideally I would like to get these degrees somewhere other than
Israel, at an institution where Children's Literature is taught as a serious
academic subject. I've applied and been accepted at Roehampton University in
London, starting spring 2007 (fall 2006 is too soon, fall 2007 will be too
late because I'll probably have to translate the next Harry Potter by then,
and also because every little delay makes transferring the children more
difficult). But if we're really going to be relocating to London, my husband
is going to need a work permit and a job, and we'll need to find a flat, and
kindergarten for the children, and massive funding, and someone to adopt our
cat... AAAAAAAAGHHH. Just to much to think about.

Not to mention there's a war now, which is just too awful to even think

I spent half the morning sobbing my eyes out, and then as a result had a bad
headache for the rest of the day, which while not technically a migraine (I
can't explain the difference, but they feel very different) sort of defeated
the purpose of taking anti-migraine medication. At some point I called my
husband at work to tell him I felt overloaded, and apparantly sounded so
terrible that he got into his car and drove straight home. He was the one
who suggested my emotional state might be a side effect of the new
medication I've been taking, so we looked in the pamphlet and sure enough
irritability and depression are listed as possible side effects. But I can't
help remembering something I read in some pop-psychology article, about how
depressed individuals are often much more realistic when assessing their
life than the poor optimistic sods who aren't depressed. I detest feeling
the way I've been feeling but I don't think I'm out of touch with reality.

Then again, the thing that really set off my crying jag was a drippy faucet
in the back yard. It's been getting worse and worse for at least two weeks
now,  I've called the plumber twice and he keeps finding excuses not to show
up because when he asks if it's an emergency I can't honestly say it is an
emergency but still and all its been two weeks and everything is wet and
it's all gone green with algea and a terrible waste of water and I'm sick
and tired of calling the plumber and it's nearly two in the morning and I
can hear the water dripping and I want to SCREAM. So maybe I am
overreacting. No more of this medication for me.

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