Earlier this year I posted about writers who publish in languages other than their own; John Cowan sent me a link to this piece by Francois Grosjean about writing a book in one of the two languages he’s fluent in:
The actual writing process was far harder than I had imagined even though I write French without any problem and have lectured in that language for the last twenty years. I quickly realized that my writing style, very much influenced by my years of writing in English, simply had to become more French. I usually write short sentences with few clauses but written French requires far longer sentences with many subordinate clauses. In addition, written French usually takes on an impersonal, rather formal, tone. For example, I simply didn’t feel I could give personal examples the way I do in English.
I also left out people’s testimonies which have their place in non-fiction prose in English. Thus, at the beginning of my book Bilingual: Life and Reality, I describe the many bilinguals I had met on a particular morning–the baker’s wife, my garage mechanic, even children in the local day-care across from where I live. I didn’t feel this would be appropriate for French-speaking readers, and so I opted to start with the bilingualism of famous French people such as Napoleon (his first language was Corsican and he only learned French at age six), the famous researcher and Nobel laureate, Marie Curie, who was originally Polish but had done all her work in France, as well as the bilingual writer Samuel Beckett, also a Nobel prize winner, who wrote his books in both English and French.
There’s plenty more good stuff in there (e.g., “On the level of vocabulary, written French has a tendency to use unfamiliar, rather specialized, terms which must not be repeated too soon after having been used. Writers have to find ways around this either by using pronouns or finding synonyms”); thanks, John!