Re: Alone from the start

Subject: Re: Alone from the start
From: "Anita Legsdin" <legsdin -at- attbi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 13:51:29 -0800

It's interesting reading everyone's comments about why a company would hire an inexperienced writer from the start. It's all true what you say about them being cheaper, but I have a horror story about what can potentially happen.

It's not true that all inexperienced new writers are pliable or easier to mold into what you want. I was writer #2 in the company; I had at the time more than 12 years experience in technical writing. Writer #1 had at one time been in the scientific field, and was just freshly hatched with a TW certificate from a local university, full of ideas, theories, and opinions, with no work experience outside of academia. This person was very opinionated, stubborn, and didn't work well with groups. The writer was also still writing in a style acceptable only in PhD theses in chemistry or physics.

The company's original theory was "well, we'll be kind to this person and provide them with an entry into the tech writing field," but it was a disaster, especially when more experienced writers were hired. Having a louder voice and a tendency to go over everyone's head to find an opinion the writer agreed with, writer #1 managed to offend nearly everyone for more than two years. (Yes, it's that hard to get fired, even when you're incompetent.) No one wanted to deal with the continual complaints, so passed the buck to other managers, and the executive the writer kept whining to always caved in. Finally, this individual insulted the wrong people--engineers--and at last met their inevitable fate. By that time, the growing company had 6 technical writers; all of us celebrated when the misfit left.

Pardon me for the proliferation of "they"--I'm trying very hard to not be gender-specific. And I'll have to agree that being opinionated and stubborn isn't limited to newbies! :-)

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