re: Are you a writer?

Subject: re: Are you a writer?
From: "Grimes, Keith" <Keith -dot- Grimes -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 08:11:43 -0500

All,

I'm relatively new here, about three weeks or so, so please don't stone me.
But at the risk of sounding like a heretic, I was wondering if it was
possible for tech writers and SMEs to coexist. I think the relationship
between SME and writer can be mutually beneficial, and that together we can
manage to put out the best product possible.

When Andrew posed the question, "Are you a writer?" then proceeded to once
again make his case of "real" writers versus "alleged" writers, I had an
idea. For a moment I considered sending out a memo to the developers
surrounding me telling them to go home, that their services as Subject
Matter *Expert* were no longer necessary or needed. After all, I'm a real
writer, dammit, and I own my content. And with my writing skills, my
integrity, and my brass balls, what do I need them for.

By God, I'm a writer!

But I got a little frightened as I wondered what it would be like if the
pendulum swung the other way. What if the SMEs decided that, in addition to
their educational backgrounds as mechanical and electrical engineers, they
were also real writers. After all, they mastered penmanship in third grade,
passed their spelling tests in eighth grade, and most certainly did not fail
freshman composition. So why shouldn't they send my arrogant butt packing
for having the audacity to think that I might have something useful to
contribute to *their" product.

Yikes.

So I ask the question to those of you who "own" your content: Are SMEs of
any use whatsoever? And at what point did you cross over that apparently
obvious demarcation between alleged writer and real writer? Was it after
years of learning and gaining experience in your field, or was it upon
entering the door for the very first time? I'd like to know because in spite
of the fact that I'm still learning things about the robotics field, I'm
daring to continue to write about it. (*Gasp*)

And finally, is it possible that, rather than the above two very divergent
camps of writers, we're on something more like a continuum between the two,
and that while it's noble to aspire to being a "real" writer with the Plato
stamp of approval, it's alright to admit that some of us appreciate the
relationship between writer and SME? I hope so, because I think that
together we all bring something quite unique and useful to the development
table.

Keith G.







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