new kid on the block (long) Take TWO

Subject: new kid on the block (long) Take TWO
From: J C <tech_writer_girl -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 09:15:10 -0800 (PST)

Thanks for all the great answers so far. I really
enjoy reading your responses and appreciate the great
advice. Just to clear a few things up:

I have been in technical writing for five years, but
working in the audioconferencing industry before this
job (deals with barcode software and wireless
technology). Specifically speaking I don?t know if I?m
supposed to be jr. or sr or what. I am just the
?technical writer.? In the main office (remote), there
was another writer who was considered the
Documentation Manager. He quit my third week. He?d
been here for six years, developed all the templates,
standards and style guides. (They are not replacing
that position.) The former writer (local) never really
worked with the Documentation Manager. He used the
templates and styles of course, but the did not reivew
each other?s work or have any interaction to speak of.

When I ask former writer about his documentation
procedures and working with others, I get ?This
company is used to the luxury of having me as the
writer. I know so much about the technology that I
just figure everything out myself and no one has ever
had to review my work. They are not used to having to
review anything and are spoiled in that way. They will
have to get used to you asking them to review your
work, but most of the time their feedback is useless
This bothers me in several ways. One thing is, as I am
revising and updating some of the existing
documentation and having it reviewed, the reviewers
(QA) complain that some of the information is
inaccurate or lacking. So I put in the updated
information, clarifying and adding whatever might be
missing. Then when former writer gets a hold of it, he
chops most of it out saying ?There is no need for
this. No one reads the documentation anyway. It was
better the without this information.? I realize I may
be dealing with some ego here and admit that nothing I
do will ever make former writer as happy as he was
when he was doing the writing.

Also, boss-wise. I attempted to sit down with boss
(title: project manager) my first month to get an idea
of what was expected, up-coming projects, and maybe
discuss how I could like to handle documentation going
forward or at least where it might fit in with product
releases. (I didn?t do it in a pretentious way; I was
just trying to figure out how to survive). He
basically told me the company motto ?Just roll with
it.? He told me to have former writer review
everything, so I?m kind of stuck with that right now.
He also didn?t want to give me any idea on upcoming
projects because ?things change around here so fast, I
don?t really know what you?ll be doing.? When I asked
about documentation practices he told me ?we don?t
want to get bogged down with procedures or processes
(two P words I guess). Just roll with it.?

The other thing, (sorry this just gets longer and
longer) I hear around here that is different than I?m
used to is ?It is better to have the product released
BEFORE we start working on the documentation.
Documentation is a luxury only.? This has come up
when I?ve asked about being part of the product
developement cycle from the beginning and working in
conjunction with alpha, beta and final product
releases. Is this normal? I?m not used to trying to
play catch up with the documentation when the product
is already to the customer. There are loads and loads
of products out there (this is software) with no
documentation at all. Boss says they are an estimated
two years behind in documentation. Frankly I don?t see
how this is going to change with the way things are.

Anyway, sorry to drag on. I appreciate the all the

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