Seung Park: From Morning to Evening to ... Insomnia?

I never planned on presenting this piece during this festival season. After all, I already had The Letter done, and that was that, right?

As I noted in the frontmatter of this translation, this is a piece that has a long, troubled history here at al|together. We first heard of it at the very beginning of the 2005 season from none other than AstCd2, who has been a primary contributor to every season of this festival thus far. A translator e-mailed me a few hours later, stating that he wanted to translate it. "Go ahead," I remember saying, "but don't you think you're biting off a little more than you can chew?" He laughed at that sentiment, telling me I was completely underestimating his ability, and that he'd have a completed script for me in a week or two. "Just try to keep up," he told me. Riiiiiiight. Fast-forward a month, and he hadn't even gotten through the first chapter. I lost contact with him completely a few weeks after that, and he's never appeared around these parts again.

The second time around was in 2006 — and we thought we were better-prepared this time around. There was a translator I knew who wanted to give this piece a shot, who thought he could handle it, who wanted me to mentor him in the process. "Fine," I told him, "give it your best shot." He said he knew it was going to be a tough battle to get this done before the deadline, and I told him that I agreed. I allowed himself to be a little optimistic. Fast-forward a month, and he'd been so busy with real-life work that he hadn't even begun translating. I lost contact with him completely a few weeks after that, and he's never appeared around these parts again, either.

So that's two translators this piece has devoured already.

When I was organizing this year's festival season, I carefully went around, soliciting participation from the best in-community translators I knew. Almost all of them replied enthusiastically, but many of them no longer had the free time they once had; understandable, as I was in the same position. I found myself left with a small but very competent core — AstCd2, Chris St. Louis, Edward Keyes, Irene Ying, Lee Massi — and not very much time left. So after taking some time to ensure that each translator had an appropriate piece, I settled down and tackled the one that I'd chosen — and that, I thought, was that.

Then I got greedy.

If we were going to release each piece sequentially, then that gave us a few extra days, right? If we presented six pieces instead of five, then the festival would go for exactly a week, right? If we had six pieces, we could use the metaphor of a six-course meal to determine presentation order, right?

In hindsight, I wonder what I was thinking.

Anyway, LEAVEs is a fairly long piece. The scenario's script is roughly 9000 lines long. I started nine days before Day 6 of the festival. This was a patently Bad Idea™, but, uh, I don't think I was in a frame of mind to really pay any attention to minor details like that. It was only after we released the piece, on time on Day 6, that I realized with great surprise — I'd sustained a rate of 1000 translated lines per day. What the hell? No wonder I was so tired.

This does bring me to an interesting point. I do realize that there are some people who think that it's good to put out some "first blast" translation that's barely readable gibberish, to be then "edited" into shape by a bunch of people who can't even read the primary source material. Those people seem to think we do extensive "editing" to make our translations look the way they do. To them I say: sorry. Whenever you look at one of our translations — especially this one — you're looking at a "first blast" translation.

Every main character in LEAVEs has his or her own distinctive voice, as dictated by the personality of the character him- or herself, as well as the character's level of education. Matsuri Hikiyama, for instance, speaks with great politeness and refinement, as appropriate for a young woman of her class. Touka Ichimura has a much more rough-and-tumble speech pattern, and yet applies feminine modifiers to her sentences much more often — resulting in something that's certainly stereotypically lower-class, yet is very girly. Finally, there's the narrator, who speaks with a very standard male speech pattern. These can all be modeled in English; there's no need to make them all sound the same. And I hope — as you read through LEAVEs — you'll see that at work.

Anyway, I'm going to sleep now.

2 December 2008
Seung Park
Festival Coordinator, al|together 2008