One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that everything resembles physical exercise: if you stop practicing, you’ll eventually lose the hang of it. Talent means nothing.
During this long hiatus, I have lost my singing voice, my ability to write and draw, and pretty much my command of all the languages I used to speak. I became a technical translation machine, unable to write anything remotely compelling. Contracts don’t have to be compelling. Birth certificates don’t have to be compelling. My writing is now devoid of feeling. Proof of that is the fact that I haven’t written here in ages. I wonder, though—is it my writing that’s devoid of feeling or is it me?
I was recently asked to translate an advertorial into English. I failed spectacularly. The text didn’t make sense to me even in Spanish. All this empty hyperbole, this quest for sweet business-pleasing terms. I was left wondering where my English had gone. Had I ever learned those terms that had failed to show up in my brain? I used to consider myself an okay writer in English. I know for a fact this is no longer true. Perhaps the Internet is making me stupid. No, seriously. All these bite-sized easily digestible bits of useless information have narrowed down my ability to focus, let alone my vocabulary.
Still, I wonder if replacing my unhealthy reading/writing diet with a more wholesome one is going to improve my chances of succeeding at long-form advertising. But I guess that’s not the point. After all, I may never be asked to translate an advertorial—or any other form of journalism, honest or dishonest, for that matter—ever again. The point is, I’m failing at things I used to excel at. And that’s a matter of concern.