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B as Bilingual

I only wish I could define myself bilingual. I’m working on my language skills but, as I’ve always complained on these pages, I’m far from that!

I’m Italian and I’ve been living in Dublin for the past eight and half years.

I love Ireland and the Dublin accent, yes of course this is personal taste!

However, because I live with my partner who’s Italian and now I work for the Italian market I’m probably taking longer.

I’m so happy though that my daughter is growing up to be a real second generation bilingual! She’s so funny to hear.

But let’s get back to my issue!

Because the love for writing was strong from the very beginning and the dream of publishing one day is burning fiercely, I decided I wanted to write in English.

I actually wrote my first book ever in Italian, but then I decided it wasn’t really worth it. Unless you know the right people you’ll never publish there! The book is still in the editing process and I don’t think it will move from there.

So here I am practicing my writing skills on this blog, trying to improve.

Also my notes and my writings are in English and sooner or later I hope my dream will become true.

The good thing, I guess, is that I love very much what I do and I believe this is the most important detail. I couldn’t stop really writing anymore.

If you had been following my blog for a while, you might wonder where the other WIP ended up and why it disappeared.

Actually it didn’t disappear, it’s just in stand by status.

One of the most frequent critique, as you might imagine, it’s addressed to my broken English when I write. Fair enough, I’m native Italian, so until I figure out how to improve it, I’ll have to practice and practice and practice a little bit more!

I was once said that maybe I should use the fact that I’m a native Italian speaker as a strength rather than a weakness. I guess it was a clever advice. In case I’ll manage to set a foot in the door of the publishing world, then maybe, and there is a big maybe here as we all know how hard the publishing world might be, the right people would be willing to have a look to my high fantasy and also willing to spend some time more in editing and proofreading it.

This is why I’m working on this WIP and why the main characters of this book will be Italian but they’ll have to write in English, hence justifying the fact that the written English isn’t that perfect.

What do you think? Is it a good advice? Is there anybody out there trying to write in another language and managing it? What’s your secret?


10 thoughts on “B as Bilingual

  1. Ever thought of paying an editor to look at your story? It will cost you, but when you get your text with all the corrections marked and you have to go through them, you learn a lot.
    Also, finding a native speaker critique partner might help: I exchange short stories with a woman, and although most times I can’t point out grammar issues to her (not that she needs it much), I provide a lot of feedback on characters, plots, etc., while she does the same to me, and also marks the most clunky sentences. Of course, since it’s mutual help, you’d need to devote time to reading somebody else’s texts.
    On top of that, I’d recommend a good grammar book: doing exercises day by day will get you familiar with the grammar structures and you’ll learn to “catch” them in the fiction you’re reading. You will also improve on “small” things, like using the right prepositions – a wrong preposition is what often screams “second language!!!”, so getting them right is worth the time. 🙂

    • Jo I thought about it. I even tried a couple of them and sent some samples, but the problem is that my grammar wasn’t corrected and my story was completely changed! Disappointing… Also with the full time job now I don’t have time, I struggle to squeeze in the half an hour writing I take away from my lunch break.
      When I say I’m tight and crunched I’m not exaggerating!
      So I don’t even know where I could put grammar exercise during the day!
      Oisin told me during the workshop that this could be a good idea. With the excuse of the Italian origin the English of my characters could be “second language” English, if you know what I mean!

      • You need to find one to fit your needs. Talk about what you need, how it’s going to work, and how much it’s going to cost.
        Also, your story being changed is NOT a bad thing, as long as it’s a discussion between you and the editor. If you’re under impression that your story won’t be changed when the agent/publisher accepts it, well… sorry, it *will* happen. And it will make your story stronger most of the times.
        I had a full time job too. I understand the struggle, but a grammar exercise is 15 minutes. So it depends on you whether you want to try to find that 15mins or not: even if it’s not every day. Skip one writing lunch, do grammar instead since you need it. Also, talk to your partner, if he can have an evening of (for example) playing WoW, while you do chores, you could have one too for writing/learning. You’re not superwoman and you deserve some rest.
        Sorry if it’ll sound negative, but the second language English would fly in dialogue parts, but the descriptions still have to be very good (if not perfect English): you could slip some “second language grammar” here and there for flavor, but the rest has to be good.

      • Jo, no worries, your comment doesn’t sound negative, it sounds more like your hammering my soul and my self-confidence with a huge block of cement.
        I have the feeling that probably you think I’m a bit stupid!
        I know, I perfectly know that an editor will change things, and of course I know that it will be done for the best, but changing the story (they didn’t ask and they didn’t know anything outside those 10k words) out of changing’ sake it’s mean!
        I suggest you to know all the details before giving specific advices.
        Sometimes people would have money problem, or health problems or others that aren’t necessarily to tell to everybody.
        My dream is the most important thing to me, but if I say I struggle to find 15 minutes, I do, I’m not just messing.
        As a matter of fact he’s not even playing WoW anymore simply because in the best of the case we’re exhausted. I mean hospital level almost.
        Said that I managed, among many sacrifices, to attend to a second workshop with Oisín McGann because of a comment like yours destroyed me. He stressed the fact that I need someone having a look at my English all right, but also that the project I had in mind would work with the broken English. Once again you don’t know all the details. It has been done already by a Chinese writer.
        I wish I could work, write, and have hundreds of hobbies and sleep three hours every two nights, but I cannot, I’m sorry.
        I don’t want to sound as someone who cannot take in a negative feedback, because I can. Sometimes it stress me the way is made, in particular when there is no need.
        You might say that in the publishing world not everybody will care about the way they’re giving feedback. Fine! But you’re in a group of writers who try to support each other trying to the support without killing what is left of self confidence!
        Having said that I don’t even have a finished manuscript so by the time I’ll need the said editor I might have won the lotto or my situation would be completely different. Hopefully…

      • “Hammering my soul and my self-confidence with a huge block of cement” does sound like you do perceive it as a negative. If it was supposed to be sarcasm, it missed.

        You also make an assumption of me: that I think you’re stupid.
        I don’t.
        You also made some other assumptions on what I’ll say or think. Just for the record: I don’t appreciate people doing that.

        I can only know details you provide me, and it isn’t much.
        I understand the problems, and mind you, I’m a second language speaker too, I used to come home exhausted too, and I suffer from the same doubts as you, so it’s not like I don’t understand.
        And in the past, I did my best to share my experience, give advice, find some ways to help you. I was there to answer your questions and share my experience.
        If you see it as “hammering your soul”, I’ll stop. (Just for the record, I never said anything like “you’re never going to make it” or “forget about your dream” which would be what you’re talking about.)

        To me, support means helping to find solutions, and ways, trying to figure out how things can be done, even if it’s difficult, and not repeating “oh, it’ll be grand, don’t worry”. Because in the first case it might hurt, it might be difficult, but it’ll give you a chance to find the way. In the second, we will be both fuzzy with nice feelings and all, but it most likely won’t help you with the problems that keep you from your dreams.

        But, since you’re not happy with my help, I’ll make sure not to upset you again.

      • Jo I don’t want to argue, really. I’ll be brief!
        I didn’t try to be sarcastic, I tried to explain the effect of the comment on me.
        I didn’t intend to make an assumption, I just tried to explain how I perceived.
        I never said I want “Hey it will be OK” at all the times, I just said that I’d love to have the negative comments to be conveyed in a nicer way, not in a why that could be perceived like “you’ll never make it”!
        That’s it really! 🙂

      • I never said “you’ll never make it”. Quite to the contrary, giving advice and trying to help solve problems implies that quite to the contrary, I do believe you’ll make it. Because people who think “you won’t make it” usually say stuff like “I won’t waste my time on you” or just go about insulting the person, which I didn’t.
        So, to be all positive, there you go: “Best of luck, I hope you’ll make it.”
        And I do hope this will suffice for help from me, since anything else is not welcomed.
        Best of luck.

  2. Writers write in secondary languages all the time. It all depends on how long they’ve been working on mastering the written form, but it’s happening. I would say spending time immersed id grammar and syntax is important. And of course, there are editors, or good friends who are language savvy. Keep at it.

    • I won’t give up that’s for sure! But because of lack of time and native language friends who would dedicate me time (I’ve tried that too) I have to make it alone! 😦

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