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Subject:RE: working with other writers From:"Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM> To:"'Bruce Byfield'" <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Thu, 1 Jun 2000 14:09:21 -0400
I just couldn't let some of your comments go by. And believe it or not,
it's not intended as a flame.
Unless you have strong empirical evidence to support it, I'm not sure that a
"large proportion" of tech writers would rather be writing fiction or the
news (which is all too often exactly the same). Been there, done that,
would rather be a tech writer.
I imagine that every profession contains some proportion of folks who'd
rather be doing something else, no reason to single us simple folk out. As
for being a barely submerged failure--only in my former marriage. I'm a
successful, professional communicator.
If our egos get frustrated, it's just as likely because we're not considered
important members of the team-we're often just afterthoughts and overhead.
I hope I don't get pendantic, hysterical or AR about the details that matter
to no one but me, but I'm sure I have my bad days, just as the ego-inflated
geeks and superficial suits do <g>.
As to whether it's better to be very similar or completely different when
working with other writers, your results may vary. If we're all the same we
may find some kindred spirits and an easier path to consistency. But when
the egos appear, I think it would get excessively dull. I'm sure my cohorts
in crime would get tired of hearing me spout about the same things they
spout about. If we're extremely different, it makes for some great
contributions to perspective and problem-solving. But when the egos appear,
it's hard to find common ground. Hierarchy and experience have less to do
with it then good management and interpersonal skills. It's very satisfying
for me to see a newbie get credit for a great new idea, but I had both great
and horrible managers over the years.
So give me variety. Some agreement now and again, and a good difference in
points-of-view are both extremely important to a satisfying, successful
career in this crazy business.
From: Bruce Byfield
I think that working with other writers is always a challenge.
Not only is a lot of unattended ego (including mine) likely to be
flying around, but also a lot of frustrated ego.
By this last comment, I mean that a large proportion of the
tech-writers I've met would rather be journalists or fiction
writers. In their own minds they've settled for tech-writing, and
they chafe at the barely submerged feeling that they're failures.
This feeling explains most of their more objectionable behaviour:
pedantic attention to minor details, their hysterical insistence
on inflated job titles and their own professional status, and
their endless, petty turf wars.
I've found only two ways to overcome these problems. Either the
members of the writing team must be very different in their
experience, or almost identical.
When the team members are very different in experience, the team
tends to follow the lead of the senior members. The team
functions but, in my experience, won't function very long.
Inevitably, relations on the team change as the junior writers
gain experience; the juniors want more say, and the seniors tend
to resist the threat to their authority. Once this change starts
to happen, it isn't very pleasant to be either a junior or a
senior member of the team.
I appreciate having other writers around to talk to, but, in many
ways, my usual lone wolf status is less exhausting. After all, if
I get lonely, many of the geeks and suits are human, too.