Conference season has started!

I went to Chicago for the EFA2019 conference. I had been to the previous EFA conference in New York in 2016. What did I find at EFA2019?

Discussions in the hallways

Though a conference has sessions, the attendees are what makes a conference what it is. I love the personal discussions with EFA members. For example, when we discussed my my book on Spanish writing, they always asked the same questions: Who is it for? Who is your audience? This made it clear, once again, that having our audience clear is critical for every writing project. If we don’t know who we are writing for, we won’t reach our audience and make a difference. As a translator, I also need to ask that question when I work with my clients. Who is the Spanish-speaking audience they are trying to reach with this translated document?

Poster sessions

The EFA conference set up posters at tables, with a person or two responsible for leading a conversation on each topic. This kind of short, informal but deep conversation can move the profession forward in significant ways.

  • Mastermind groups: These are small groups where professionals do peer mentoring. There are several at EFA, and members connect through Slack, secret Facebook groups, google groups, or whatever they want to use. Some meet locally, others are remote. Some make sure they meet in person once a year. The goal is to help each other solve problems and support each other professionally.
  • The Heilmeier Catechism: It is a no-nonsense list of questions to evaluate funding proposals by George Heilmeier, a former DARPA director.  Melissa Hellman shared this with us at the conference and walked us through our draft oral proposals. This should be helpful for any grant proposal.
  • How to work with a non-writer author. First, I asked exactly what a non-writer author is. That would be someone who writes text but is not skilled in the mechanics of writing. Since I am a translator, we discussed working with a Chinglish writer, a Chinese native speaker writing in English. My suggestion, in that case, was to work with a Chinese to English translator, who could translate from the Chinese mindset to English. The American Translators Association has a search tool to find to find the right professional!

University of Chicago Press

Their office was a 10 minute drive away, so they were there with everything they could find! I took a break during a session to talk with them about my book, how to proceed with publication, what books would help me the most. I got the very best help I could have hoped for. They confirmed my thinking that publishing on my site for free distribution is the most reasonable and practical way to go to meet my goals. I want the material I am writing to be available, and this will make it happen.

Friday keynote

Marilyn Schwartz told us that publications have shifted significantly and the publishing houses are no longer the gatekeepers. Publishing is now democratic because of self-published materials and self-publishing is a respectable field in its own right. Of course, there were quite a few editors specialized in helping authors get through all the hoops of self-publication…

What now?

I am home, getting over jet lag, with new energy to work on my Spanish writing book. I will definitely be at the next EFA conference. The next ACES conference? Well… it depends on the date we expect our next grandchild to be born.

Next conference?

I am speaking at the OSTI conference, on September 14. My topic is how much translation interpreters do and how interpreters should prepare for this part of their work. Who will have booths at OSTI? Oregon medical interpreters now have the right to unionize. Will the organization that is trying to form a union be there to discuss working conditions with interpreters at OSTI, which started by doing advocacy for interpreters? I sure hope so. I look forward to discussing things with them at their table.

Then, on to Southern Cal for the Orange County conference. Check my calendar. See you on the road!