Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Year in Writing*

I won't lie. It might be better to re-christen this rubric -- at least for this year -- the Year in Translating.

That's because, on the writing front, in some ways, there's very little to report. Because of my teaching duties at UCONN and the translation projects I've begun, I published very little this year and most of my writing was devoted to book reviews and critical essays (including one for Literary Hub about an Italian woman writer finally winning the Strega literary prize after 15 years of male winners -- see link below).

In other ways, there are some important milestones to report.

*I won the 2018 PEN America Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature. It was a thrill, and a heady recognition for anyone in the literary translation field. And also: that's $5,000 in the bank! Now I just need to publish this beautiful, little Italian novel (Passaggio in ombra by Mariateresa Di Lascia).

*I also published two short story translations and a novel excerpt translation. Click on the link below to read a gorgeous short story by F. Marzia Esposito (published thanks to Angie Cruz whom I met at Bennington):

*These translations included my first in-print translation courtesy of the Kenyon Review for a lovely little story by Francesca Scotti (see photo above).

*Last but not least, I received my first personal rejection from The New Yorker for a short story I translated. Yes, a personal rejection that included my name from a real person (the fiction editor!) and kind words about my submission! From The New Yorker! Yes, that New Yorker.

I will admit I would have preferred to publish more writing, particularly of the non-critical variety (and receive a yes from The New Yorker on the translation). The time that I spent grading and preparing lessons -- ARGH!

But as I continue my journey with writing, I see how long the road is but also how I can reconstruct my personal road map with new destinations and side routes that I believe will help me reach the final goal.

What do I mean? I believe translating a novel is a very fine, self-run apprenticeship on how to write fiction or how to publish a book of nonfiction. (It's sounds slightly delusional, I know, so I was thrilled to read something to that effect in an essay in an anthology on translation edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz -- my old Bennington prof -- called Crossing Borders).

So the final destination for me remains writing a book. I've just taken a few detours.

I also unfortunately have a penchant for beginning so many things that I don't finish! ARGH! Some of the writing projects I've worked on this year include:

"Polly's Guide to Italian Men" (fiction -- maybe)
"Polly's Adventures in Italy" (in diary format)
"How Italy Ruined My Life" (nonfiction)

Will they ever see the light of day? Who knows? Right now, a dozen different iterations of them clutter my Dropbox.

If you're interested in what's happening in the Italian book world, you can check out one small bit of writing I did this year by taking a look at this article, the one that I wrote for Lithub about the first woman Strega winner in 15 years (brava, Helena! For reference, the Strega is Italy's top book award).

Here's to another year of writing and translation for me. I hope all of you will continue with your creative projects, too! Also: have you written your year in writing? Or translation? Or woodworking?!

Buon Anno!