This year marks the tenth anniversary of my entry into the translation business. It took a while to become established and consequently although I started to promote the business in January 2000 nothing happened until June. Over the next three years business slowly increased but not enough to be more than a sideline. At the end of 2003, however, I decided that business was secure enough to go full-time and I have not looked back since.
There have been some changes in the last ten years. I started with Trados 5 and moved through various versions to the most recent Trados Studio. At one time a lot of my work would arrive by fax but two years ago I disconnected the fax machine. For a while I had to access the Internet through a dial up connection, which sometimes failed in wet weather. After only a couple of years I went over to broadband and wonder how I could have done without it. Being available to clients when I left the house was a concern for a long time until I got my Blackberry. This little device has liberated me from my office and enabled me to be available almost anywhere, except when I have turned it off (driving, teaching, flying, sleeping etc.). I have discovered the off button and I am not a slave to my mobile. I like to be able to check it at suitable intervals though, just so I don’t missing anything important. To make it easier for clients to contact me when I am not able to answer my home phone I have also subscribed to an answering service who will forward messages to me by email. I hope this means I can respond to clients as soon as possible. In terms of software I installed electronic dictionaries on my computer years ago because I found flicking through paper dictionaries aggravated hand and wrist problems. In hardware terms to alleviate the problems of RSI I have tried using an ergonomic keyboard and a laptop. The latter is my preferred method of working as I can use the keys and the mouse without the need to move my wrist, which is where my RSI problems tend to reside. The ergonomic keyboard is great for typing but I still have to use the mouse, and although I have an optical mouse, it still requires arm and wrist movement to use it. The final change has been the office. Since my eldest son moved out I have been able to appropriate his room as my office, thus escaping distractions of the television and other people’s chatter. My office is small and cluttered. I work in silence but from the window next to my desk I have a good view of the street when I need a change of focus. The only disturbances are the telephone, knocks at the door and the gentle tap-tap on the arm by the cat asking to go out.