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~ cryptically stating something plain ~

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the saga of me and my alien baby
slump, sigh, tired

So yeah ... remember that alien baby I told you about? It took over my life completely, especially after June of last year.

It was a gradual takeover, and though I could feel something was wrong, I thought I could handle it.

It was just 3 hours per day, right? Sure I could fit it in somewhere, and if not, there was always the weekend to make up for lost time.

My day job? Well, it's not like things were so busy that I couldn't find time to translate a paragraph or two in between the work I had at the office ...

Rest and relaxation? I'm translating a web novel! Reading and writing have always been my hobbies, so isn't this just getting paid to do something I like?

Besides, the money was good, the fans were (mostly) great, and I was learning some pretty cool things all the time while translating. It was nice interacting with other translators too. What did I have to complain about?

Well ... I started to realise something was wrong when I started to have some mini panic attacks. I call them 'mini' because they weren't actual panic attacks, but I believe they would have eventually developed into actual panic attacks if I had let things go on any further. I'd get home from work and park my car, and then ... this really, really strong surge of fear would come over me at the very thought of stepping out of the car. I really, really did not want to get out of the car. It was safe inside — there was no one else here, no external stimuli, no expectations. It was a bubble out of time, secluded from the greater world. I would sit in the car and think to myself how odd it was to feel this way until I could finally convince myself to get out. And once I did step out, it felt like everything was back to normal, and I would just continue on like nothing had happened.

Then, there were those times when I would just be triggered by the most random things and start crying. It's actually pretty scary to find yourself sobbing without knowing why, which just makes the crying worse.

I think that I already knew something had to change at that point, but sheer inertia made me just continue on. I had already submitted a request to the translation company for help; I just needed to hold on until help came. That's what I kept telling myself whenever the urge to quit came along. Another big part of it was also that I did not want to let down the fans. I had become fond of a number of them, and I understood what it was like to be kept hanging on a story.

Still, the time came when enough was enough. Help never came, and when the translation company told me about a major policy change, I started to seriously consider leaving. The new policy made it so I would have to be hired by a translation group, so the main company would only have to liaise with these managing groups rather than a large collective of individual translators. This made total business sense, and I was initially thrilled that help would pretty much be guaranteed with a translation group (or so I was led to believe by the company rep and the translation group rep). The problem was when I learned a new contract would have to be negotiated.

The company had told me that nothing would change. I could just continue translating as I had been; it's just that payment would now be handled by the group I was under. The group rep, however, wanted to renegotiate terms. Somewhat annoying and unexpected, but fine. The issue was that the rep always insisted on sending me contract details and negotiating around midnight in my time zone. I was already tired at that time, and the stress of having to negotiate terms unexpectedly just made it harder to sleep after. And the negotiations weren't even done through a phone call, or a face-to-face meeting, but via text. Sporadic texts at that. After three days of that, I was through.

I realised that:

  1. It may just be about 3 hours a day, but I didn't really have that 3 hours to spare to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  2. I was feeling guilty translating in the office. That was not what my day employer had hired me to do. I felt like I should be putting more of my focus on doing what I had been actually hired for. This was contributing to my stress.

  3. I may like reading and writing, heck, I may even really like translating, but there is still a difference between doing something as a hobby and doing something for a job with deadlines. The daily requirement was slowly killing my joy and interest for translating.

  4. I shouldn't sacrifice my well-being to please fans, and even if I had been holding on for them, I had really held on for long enough without help.

  5. Even if I managed to negotiate terms to my liking, I did not look forward to keeping my current translation pace. And if I lowered my pace, I'd feel guilty towards the translation group which had hired me with the understanding I'd keep up my current pace.

  6. I don't need the money, and I can still learn cool new things from translating less intensely as a hobby.

And so, I quit. Though I had initially planned to quit for good at the end of February, the fact that I would have to sign a new contract with the group for January put the decision out of my hands. It made the most sense to stop at the end of December. I agreed with the company rep to stay and help out with the transition of the novel to the new group and that was that. My alien baby was now officially about to be adopted by a new parent.

Fast forward to today ... my alien baby is still in transition. Something seems to have gone wrong in processing, and the adoption looks like it will only really take place in about 4 months from now. The new parents aren't very communicative people and have not been responsive to my queries. Who knows if they'd still like some input from me?

All in all, I regret nothing. I may still feel sorry for the fans, but I'm still convinced that I made the best choice I could under the circumstances. Let those who would like to throw dirt on me do as they will, I look into my heart and find no guilt residing there. As the Chinese say, 问心无愧。My alien baby of 16 months, fare thee well.