Re: working with other writers

Subject: Re: working with other writers
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 11:36:35 -0700

"Giordano, Connie" wrote:

> I just couldn't let some of your comments go by. And believe it or not,
> it's not intended as a flame.

I believe. A difference in opinion isn't the same thing as a
flame, right? :-)

> 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 don't have any stats. That's why I said "a large proportion."
But I do note that techwriters tend to have arts degrees, if not
actually degrees in English. And the works of all the arts and
English majors in North America would undoubtedly cause the
entire continent to tip if they were all piled on one coast.

> 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 more people had this attitude, then the state of tech-writing
would be better.

But maybe I should make my own attitude clear: I'm a successful
tech-writer, and I take great pride in doing my job right. I do
other types of writing (and have had some limited success in
them), but I do think that tech-writing is a craft in its own

That's why I get testy about some of the attitudes I see. Many
people take themselves more seriously, when they should be taking
the work seriously.

> 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>.

What I find curious is that no other high-tech professionals are
so uptight about their status as tech-writers. Even when writers
are consulted and even when they get comparable pay to the geeks
(which does happen in some companies), they're still uptight.

My theory is that it's frustrated artistic temperment.

As for the details, please don't think that I'm saying that the
details don't matter. For anyone with pride in their work, they
obviously do. I was thinking of people who (for example) tend to
use grammar as a weapon of power, or exalt personal preferences
to a rule, or introduce irrelevancies.

> 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.

The only similarities that I think are necessary are mutual
respect and a focus on the work. Without these core values, a
group won't even tolerate differences.

And I should know: it's only genuine eccentrics like me who value
difference. :-)

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"Theirs is a land of Hope and Glory,
Mine is the green fields and the factory floors,
Theirs are the skies, all dark with bombers,
Mine is the peace we knew between the wars."
- Billy Bragg, "Between the Wars."

RE: working with other writers: From: Giordano, Connie

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