One of the most important lessons I learned during the time I was heavily involved in literary translation was the importance of interpretation and expression, and not to insist on a one-to-one translation that sacrifices the intention and spirit of the original text. The mark of a good literary translator is the ability to convey the exact same emotions of the writer and trigger the intended emotions from the reader. This is by no means an easy task, but it was one of the best trainings for me as a writer.
In a similar manner, audio books and podcasts can either make or destroy the author. In this day and age when a lot of things are happening digitally, and people are craving for alternative ways to soak in the literature while multitasking, a well produced audiobook and podcast with interesting content are always a hit. However, there are fundamental questions to be asked when venturing into this realm… Can you sustain the audience’s interest? Can you reach across cultural, generational and linguistic barriers? But most importantly, do you have the voice that will keep the audience hooked? Or do you have a voice that will scare the bejeezers out of someone to the point that they will bolt and never finish the audiobook or podcast?
There have been numerous books that I loved reading and was very attracted to the idea of listening to them as an audiobook during my long commute to work. Sadly, I was supremely disappointed by many of them based on the choice of narrator and wondered what the producers were thinking. With podcasts, regional accents make a difference, at least to me, and will spell the difference of whether I deem it worth the effort to plough through the accents or not. I am not convinced by simply being told a podcast is in English, and I need to know whether I am dealing with American, British, Australian, South Asian, New Zealand or Canadian English, and then come the local accents that double the effort required. In case you are wondering, yes, I have the same trouble with Spanish and German. I am 100% fluent in these languages, but regional accents are a killer.
Fast forward a few years later, I learned that with photography it is pretty much the same thing – it is a matter of interpretation of the subject and expression of your vision, capture of the emotions. It doesn’t always matter what you have in your hand – a mobile phone, a point-and-shoot or a more sophisticated camera, it is a matter of using the light, interpreting the moment, and presenting an interesting perspective. Take a lemon, for example – do you place it on the table in the same old boring manner, or maybe in a bowl with other lemons which has been done ad nauseam, or do you approach it from a completely different angle?
Why shoot something in the most conventional manner that is safe, overdone and with the great danger of not getting noticed for your creativity? Technical perfection is not enough, in fact, it is the least important to me. Mood, angle and message are the foundation. In other words, why settle for safe when you can go for extraordinary?
Interpret and express – don’t explain.