Monday, September 29, 2014

The bilingual writer... Part Two

But when it comes down to getting feedback I still encounter the same irritating responses: In both languages my critters admire the colorful pictures I paint with words, the unusual metaphors and  unique wording and intriguing plot elements. Alas where the stumble is often sentence structure - they appear to be disjointed and convoluted and words are used in unusual positions. Or in other words: My German is colored in English and German sentence structure sneaks into my English writing. That's not only annoying for me to discover over and over again, it also makes it hard for readers to follow my story if they pause to wonder over a sentence instead of following what is happening in a story.

I haven't found a solution for the problem yet - except for refusing to write in either language right now which is extremely dissatisfying (and I have too much time for snacks). The advice I get from the professionals - published writers and editors: Just read and read and read. Did they think I ever stopped after finishing my first local library when I was ten (and I read through everything there!) and the second with twelve. And I reread what I just read to catch phrasing - it appearantly doesn't change a thing.

Plan A for the current project of my heart -part one of three: Win in the lottery, hire a line-editor for the english version and go over everything explaining what I'm trying to say.
Plan B: Rewrite the original in German. Which doesn't strike a cord in me. I'd be willing to translate the finished project myself to make it feel right in that other language too, but the story itself wants to come out in the language it is born in my mind. So knowing that neither is a solution I right now I struggle with the next step.

But not writing can't be the solution it. It ties me into knots. It's painful. I'm getting cold all over.
I have been in that state for a few weeks now.
I think I'm getting sick - bilingual writer's heartbreak.

George Szirtes on writing bilingual poetry