FWD: Losing my profession?

Subject: FWD: Losing my profession?
From: anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 20:02:23 -0600 (MDT)

Forwarded anonymously on request. Post to the list if you
want the author to see your response. EJR.

Hello All,

I do not want to start a holy war on the list, but I wonder if others
are experiencing the same thing I am. Perhaps I should start by
confessing that I am one of those people Andrew Plato has railed against
frequently. About ten years ago, I entered the technical writing field
because I had an MA in English and it seemed to offer a way to get paid
for writing. My interest in technology has always been secondary to my
passion for writing.

Recently, I have gone through one of those out-of-the-blue downsizings.
It was completely unexpected, as I have spent the past few years
developing myself as a technical technical writer. In my last job, I
supported four teams, producing highly technical documentation for each
one. The lesson I learned is that being technical is not necessarily a
guarantee of job security. Even on a high level, the technical writer is
often seen as the least-valuable member of a development team and,
hence, expendable.

Having some time off, albeit reluctantly, has given me an opportunity to
reflect on how I reached this point and what I want to do now. During
the boom, my phone was constantly ringing, and I was able more-or-less
to move around at will. I entered a cycle of completely disposable,
easily replaceable jobs. As I look back over the past five years, I
realize that I have been let go four times, mostly due to contracts
ending or projects being shifted internally. I entered the perm market
in a search of more stability and found that the first job (admittedly
at a dot-bomb) lasted 8 months before they ran out of money. The
most-recent job lasted nine months. What is permanent?

I take full responsibility for the choices I made, and I am not blaming
anyone else. However, after 11 years in the field, I find myself weary
of the inherent instability, and I am reluctant to enter the fray again.
I notice that the interviews I am going on are not clicking, perhaps
because I feel like everyone is lying, consciously or not. Every time I
listen to a geek drone on about the opportunity in yet another
software sweatshop, I want to say that we all know better, so why not
cut the BS.

I have become increasingly weary of the software environment and all of
its constant chaos, lack of focus, and constant demands for long hours.
Part of it also is that I am more than tired of dealing with geeks and
their generally adolescent approach to life. The interesting fact, for
me, is that the more technical I have become, the more money I have
made, but the less I find any of this interesting or compelling.

I am sure that some of you are thinking something like, OK. Dont let
the door hit you on your way out the door. However, I wonder if there
is not a bigger issue here. If we are not valued as writers, then what
are we? More and more, I have felt pushed into a role of being some sort
of junior programmer, always the less-than-swift member of a development

I am weary of all this, tired of being subject to constant layoffs, and
wondering what happened to my profession. Is techwhirling really a
career, or is it just a series of odd jobs? I have also realized that if
I did find technology inherently fascinating, I would be much better off
as a developer.

As a writer trying to make a living, however, I think that I have lost
my profession. After the end of ten years, I never want to see another
cube farm again, never want to listen to someone drone on about how this
new system is revolutionary, and especially never want to hear again
that I am a cost the company can live without. I wonder if others on the
list, particularly those of you who have been around for a while, are
experiencing the same thing.

I look forward to reading your responses.

Forwarded anonymously on request. If you want the
original poster to see your response, you must reply
to the TECHWR-L list. All direct replies to this
message are automatically discarded. Contact Eric
ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com with questions.


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