The older I get the more vividly I seem to dream. My dreams are so vivid, in fact, that I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between what was dreamed and what was real. (On one hand, it's really annoying; on the other, it's very useful as an always available excuse -- "I had no idea I promised that in real life, honey. I was sure I'd dreamed it!")

The last couple of nights I've been having impostor dreams. One night I dreamed that I went from person to person only to find out that each was smarter than me. The next night it was essentially the same, only this time no one liked me. (Insecure much?) It is truly no fun to wake up in the morning with that taste in your mouth!

This reminded me of another kind of impostor syndrome that I do actually suffer from in real life, the one where I compare myself unfavorably to literary translators. Now, I'm a technical translator (with that I refer to a kind of translation that requires a specialized vocabulary, so anything between legal, medical, business, government, and technology), and I'm well established there and generally happy to be working in my particular niche.

But then I find myself reading interviews with literary translators (such as the wonderful series of interviews in the Los Angeles Review of Books), and I marvel at the polished and profound thoughts they are able to articulate about their translation work. When I tweet quotes from these interviews, I see that you (those who follow me on Twitter) like them as well. And yet, those quotes describe an area of translation in which a) I don't feel qualified and b) -- ahem -- I likely couldn't afford to work.

So, what gives?

Well, I've come up with a few conclusions. First: Of course literary translators have more beautiful things to say about translation! After all, they are literary translators whose work is supposed to change minds and hearts.

Second, though I might not be quite as eloquent in my expressions about transformations and metamorphoses achieved via translation and while translating, I (should) know that I'm actually performing the same task -- even though my product is less likely to reach hearts as it is to protect limbs in safety warnings and teach brains in user instructions. The same is probably true for any other organ or body part for your work.

And third, I get to see a side of translation that is typically not seen by literary translators: how technology intersects with translation. Although I realize that literary translators might not find this side attractive, I love it -- the "machine in the loop" (see below) allows me to optimize what I'm good at while relying for everything else on something that's better than me in other tasks: the machine.

So, on second thought, perhaps I should shed my impostor syndrome as I picture myself standing alongside literary translators. And as we stand together, I'm thankful for the wonderful products they create and the powerful words they find about our common profession.