KLARA KALKO
literary and creative translator – copy editor – artist – book designer

Black and white spring

An ordinary February morning. I got up around 5 AM. Next thing I knew I was staring at my laptop with a cup of coffee in my hand, unable to believe the news headlines. It was everywhere.

6:30 AM, an incoming call.
– There’s a war in Ukraine.
– I know.

The whole day was all about getting in touch with my friends and relatives. Fast forward to now, for nearly two months I’ve been mentally locked in the insane “work-home-BBC news” triangle. Meanwhile, it got sunny and warm outside, yet I still had difficulties accepting and dealing with what’s going on in the country I’m originally from. Eventually, an old friend of mine literally dragged me out of the horrible triangle and my state of mind. Thanks for that 10-minute talk, Nick. A few weeks earlier, a lovely lady I worked with last year messaged me just to ask where I am and if I’m safe. Very nice of her.

Somehow, I tried my best to return to normal me. A few long bike rides around kind of contributed to this. While it’s still a hard task, I push myself forward and focus on stuff I’m interested in. So, between work, my dogs, friends and trips to Debrecen, here’s what I occupy myself with (learning something you’re interested in is a fun and very rewarding thing, let me tell you):

  • taking a course on cinematic illustration. Mainly out of interest and curiousity.
  • redesigning my website. It happens every 1-2 years, usually when I get tired with old design and want to experiment.
  • learning more about book and magazine design (layout, formatting, and so on). InDesign and Scrivener.

Someone asked me what is the most important thing I’ve learned during my not-so-long yet freelancing, uhm, “career” (and extreme efforts to stand out). Besides delivering stellar work, no matter how small or large the project is (easier said than done, but that’s what defines your reputation, so don’t screw it up), it’s knowing how to present yourself. By now, I’m absolutely confident about my skills and learned how to sell them. I know what I bring to the table and don’t shy away from competition. It’s more like gambling. I don’t always win, but hey, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

On a more positive note, I’ve worked on a project for a non-profit (a cause I care about, quite proud I had a chance to contribute) and got my first job as a ghostwriter.