RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')

Subject: RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')
From: "Wilcox, Rose (ZB5646)" <Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 10:41:49 -0700

>My impression is that, prior to the early Nineties, technical writers
were far more likely to technologically-oriented than they are now.
However, I wasn't in the field then, so I can't be sure. Can any
veterans on the list comment?<

I have been technical writing since 1984. At that time, I graduated with
one of the few technical writing degrees in the country. Well, actually, it
wasn't strictly a tech writing degree. What I did was after I got my
Associates from my local "junior" college, I went to the University, got a
*second* associates in computer programming, and then "created" a Bachelors
Degree from the university's Technical College, which consisted of upper
level coursework in writing and training.

Most employers had never seen a technical writing degree before, and,
indeed, they agreed that my combination of programming courses with
communication courses uniquely prepared me for my career. Still, I learned
the most important aspects of technical writing on the job, from experience,
from mentors, and from continuing my education throughout the years... but I
digress, in the late '80's in my experience *the majority* of technical
writers I worked with were English majors. Many of them *were* afraid of
technology. A handful were what I thought of secretly as "failed"
engineers. They typically were older gentlemen who didn't keep up with the
technology, but who the organization didn't want to lay off. The attitude
was that "anyone" could write. Generally, it was proven to be not so. The
English majors, although they had many flaws, actually did turn out better,
more readable manuals than the engineers who could not write.

Thus, when hiring, I used to look for a combination of factors: a love of
technology along with a love of various aspects of communication and a
willingness to learn. However, honestly, my top criterion was a good
attitude towards teamwork and willingness to buy into the organization's
goals more than perfectionism.

Anyway, my unique degree with my unusual combination of communication and
technical skills, allowed me to stay top of the heap for many years, until
you young whippersnappers came along with the same combination. Now I
actually have to study and keep up with the trends and such. I would whine,
but it's actually quite enjoyable!

Rose A. Wilcox
Project Office / Power Trading
Communication Specialist / Technical Writer
Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- PinnacleWest -dot- com

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