Editors Scissors

October 08, 2011
3 mins

I happened to stumble upon a conversation between several book readers (me as silent reader, not feeling like to interrupt) considering a teen fiction, being quite popular out there where the author lives, and the Indonesian version’s entirely censored. Coincidentally I knew the editor, who said that it was too much to let go. Well, honestly, when I read the book, I could feel which parts contained such ‘dangerous’ scenes. I can’t remember whether it’s labelled ‘adult’ on the back cover or not.

It surprised me, those readers still talked about it. A good signal for the publisher, maybe, proving that the book’s indeed famous and created curiosity. Some readers had also sneak-peeked (it’s only euphemism) the original version in English and they expressed disappointment about the censorship. All I could say’s that, “Wow, there’s a much sharper scissor than mine. I thought I’ve been already some ruthless editor.”

Those readers’ reason (or preference, I might say) was about originality. They said that it feels different (why, of course) to read a censored book, while some of them confirmed that the censorship did not ruin the whole story. A question suddenly popped out in my head: do they really wanna read those kind of scenes, even after finding out in details in the English version?

Probably it’s just a matter of ‘cutting art’. Until today, I still discuss and learn about how to cut some scenes smoothly. Once, a book reader showed his disapproving opinion in a forum when I said that a book I translated had been censored here and there (the in house editor did it, I didn’t even read that part in the working material) in the name of culture. I can’t force or change other people’s point of view considering this one, and I respect some publishers decision to let the entire content exactly like the original version. They must have certain reasons. Meanwhile, others cut those scenes carefully and make sure that they’re really unnecessary.

I guess I should be grateful, when readers could only access original version of books I’ve worked on. When posting or writing about the creative process during translation, lately I preferred not to mention those polishing actions. I only winked at my editors and said, “Your scissor did the job beautifully.”


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