Ariel Dorfman, born in 1942, is a Chilean bilingual writer (English/Spanish). He explains that the decision in which to write a novel is always hard, but becomes even more difficult when chosing the language for your autobiography: "I couldn’t for the life or death decide in which of my two languages to write the story of my life. […] Whenever I wrote anything about my life, in either language it simply sounded … false, falso, fraudulent, fraudulento.“ (Dorfman 2004, p. 206)
Ariel Dorfman started with self-translation because his play "La muerte y la doncella" was not successful in Chile, so he decided to translate the Spanish original into English. "Death and the maiden" became a worldwide success despite of or even due to the former rejection by the Chilean public: "I translated it immediately into English, and worked with it in English from that moment on. I probably never would have gone through that experience if it hadn’t been that what I wrote in Spanish was rejected by my own audience in Chile." (Dorfman 2002, p. 56)
Ariel Dorfman continues to self-translate his work also for economic reasons: „[Y]ou get paid once in Spanish and once in English and between both payments, sabes, you manage to get one whole meal for one family of four.“ (Dorfman 2004, p. 206)
For further reading:
Dorfman, Ariel (2002): Resisting Hybridity. In: Daniel Balderstone/Marcy E. Schwarz (ed.): Voice-Overs. Translation and Latin American Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 55-57.
Dorfman, Ariel (2004): Footnotes to a double life. In: Wendy Lesser (ed.): The Genius of Language. Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongues. New York: Pantheon Books, p. 206-217.