(Photo by John Hynd)
Nine of us gathered at John Alexander’s delightful Art Deco home in Amsterdam to discuss two barely comprehensible texts provided by Alison Gibbs and to learn from her extensive experience as an editor and translator.
While we munched on the nibbles and savoured the wines, Alison enthusiastically described her own types of work and clients, dispensed useful pieces of advice and outlined common pitfalls. One of her key suggestions (originally contributed by a wary/weary handyman) was to ‘know when to stop’. Other warnings included to avoid wasting time on grammatical blunders encountered during one’s everyday life: “There are more productive ways of channelling my nit-pickery than correcting greengrocers’ apostrophes.”
A dizzying array of practical and professional tips followed, including on how to assess jobs, clarify clients’ expectations, charge for one’s time, review editorial changes, use online tools and resources, and check for common errors.
While still attempting to digest this rich diet of advice, we gingerly bit into the two texts – and quickly stubbed our teeth. It was generally agreed that the almost impenetrable one about the Azores was worth steering clear of, while the taxation one was to be attempted only by the most intrepid souls (or those with serious insomnia). Alison’s own versions, however, read like an English-language dream – attesting to her dedication, finely-honed detective skills and feminine intuition.
We ended the evening much the wiser, not to mention a little the merrier. Hic!