The literary arts are mainly solitary activities. Wordsmiths are, however, social animals and — the odd Pynchon aside — seek out the company of the rest of the species.

This is one of the motivating factors behind the formation of a new collective, Strong Women, Soft Power, which launched its first Tokyo event on Nov. 18 with a symposium exploring "best practice" for Japanese-to-English translators. Allison Markin Powell, Lucy North and Ginny Tapley Takemori — responsible for some of the best translations of Japanese literature in recent years — have banded together with the aim of creating a network of support and strength for each other, and for other literary translators working within the Japanese arena.

Safety in numbers is perhaps the oldest concept in human evolution. Artists are discovering that, in an age where "content" is expected to be provided in exchange for "exposure," going it alone can leave you open to exploitation.