Between author events and conventions, I’ve been to more panels than I can count. A talk that particularly sticks out to me is one I’d attended a few months ago, where legendary author Kanae Minato talked about her new novel, Penance. I remember watching her in awe, wishing I were in her place; I would have done anything for the chance to speak to an audience about my novel translations. For some reason, I thought I had to be at least semi-famous to do that. And even if that were to happen, I didn’t think I would get that chance for years.
Then, unexpectedly, Vertical asked me if I was available on February 26.
I knew it had something to do with 5 Centimeters per Second: one more side, my most recent novel translation, because February 26 was when it was supposed to come out. I thought that Vertical was inviting me to do a panel about it, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up when nothing was set in stone. Honestly, I’d only been translating for two years, and I never thought I’d have that opportunity so early in my career.
But as it turns out, a launch event and panel was exactly what they’d had in mind.
A few days later, Vertical had booked our spot at Kinokuniya and we were all good to go! I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled, elated even… but then anxiety crept in. Even though the concept was fairly straightforward, I’d never spoken at a panel and didn’t know what to talk about. Staying proactive and trying to stomp out the nerves, I made a huge list of things to talk about and started inviting everyone I could. I rehearsed answers to potential questions again and again, feeling excited beyond belief but terribly anxious.
I was a bit shaky just moments before the event. Self-doubting whirled around in my head: “What if I bore the audience?” “What if I mess this up?”
But then I sat at the booth and remembered why I was there. I was there for the people in the audience, who wanted to know why I became a translator. They were there because they loved translation, 5CMS, or reading in general. We were all there for the same reason: we loved the same things. An interesting talk was what they came for and I refused to let them down.
Somehow, it went better than I could have ever imagined.
When I realized that I was speaking to like-minded people, I tossed my anxieties aside and let myself get comfortable. I explained how I started studying Japanese, how I became a translator (you can find my story here), and how I tackled the challenges of translating 5CMS. I found it easy to relax once I remembered I was talking about my passion. Even my friends, who knew I was a happy but nervous wreck, told me I was a natural at public speaking (phew).
How did I feel after the event? Absolutely fantastic. There aren’t nearly enough translation/localization panels around, so I was happy that I got to spread knowledge about the industry. I also loved hearing people’s questions and comments. One woman even told me that I’d inspired her to become a translator.
I am truly grateful for Vertical, Kinokuniya, and everyone who came out to see me. It was one of the best nights of my life.
So, would I do another panel? Hell yeah. I would love to.
I’ll just have to work hard to make it happen.
Thanks for reading.