Hi. My name is Emilio L. Ghergo. I am a English-Spanish translator since 1972.
It all started in Barcelona, Spain, then the capital of the Spanish publishing industry. I was an Argentine journalist, arriving from San Francisco, CA, and hoped to find work in a newspaper or magazine there. A friend and former colleague that was established in Barcelona informed me that there were no jobs in journalism and suggested that I looked for translation work. I had never thought of translating anything, and didn't feel qualified for the task. He insisted: "You are better qualified than most people here." His casualness made me think that he had connections in the business and would refer me to someone... Instead, he told me to look for publishing houses in the phone book, and visit them on my own.
At the time, all my savings were $11 folded in my pocket. So I had little choice and followed his advise...
The first place I visited was Barral Editores. It was also the first publishing house listed in the phone book. The person in charge of managing the translation projects, a Peruvian by the name of Julio Tola, gave me a book and asked me to translate two or three pages as a sample. It was a historical novel, Oh! Where are Bloody Mary's Earrings, by Robert Player. I didn't have any dictionaries nor a typewriter then. So I did my translation in handwriting, at the Barcelona Public Library, using the Library's dictionaries. Then I typed the draft with the typewriter of a roommate.
I really worked hard on it. When I took my sample back to Mr. Tola, he looked very pleased. He said: "We usually pay so much the page, but if you can work this well, we will be willing to pay some more." I agreed. And he told me to finish translating the book.
Although my knowledge of English was quite limited then, the writing skills from my work in journalism opened up the doors of a new career for me.