RE: How did I get started in tech writing?

Subject: RE: How did I get started in tech writing?
From: "Hemstreet, Deborah" <DHemstreet -at- kaydon -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 16:39:14 -0400

Well, I guess it's my turn... How I got started in technical writing...

I moved to Israel to live in 1983. I had started out as a nurse, but
found the differences between nursing in Israel and the US too difficult
to adjust to. During a visit to the States, I believe in 1985, I began
working at Manpower and learned Word Processing on a system so old I
don't even remember its name. A monster SW where you had to put in
multiple codes to get nice bold text...

Returning to Israel, I landed a job in the Department of Medicine in
Haifa. There I began working on medical manuscripts, editing, records,
etc. Then I transferred to Biomedical Engineering. My job title? English
Typist. My job description? Receive manuscripts from authors world wide,
edit them, comment, on them, send to Professor for Scientific editing,
prepare manuscripts for camera ready publication (including processing
of graphics at a photo lab and hand pasting them in place). I also
needed to edit manuscripts for publication, assist students with their
theses, and write the responses to reviewers based on the edits to the
manuscripts (I think that was creative writing). I had E-mail before
anyone knew what it was, and was asked to create a website for our
department, before there were any web editors, and when searching the
Internet was based on the wonders of Copernicus (which I understand is
still out there). O, and I was a member of a local poetry group.

One of the poets in the group, Mark Levinson (for those of you who know
him), kept telling me I was doing technical writing and I should join
STC. He bugged me on it for years (and I regret I didn't listen
sooner!). I had no idea what that was and didn't really have time to
think about. I began to work privately and at some point, a client asked
me to write a manual for him. I was like, who, me? I don't know hoot
about this... But it sounds like fun, and its in medicine (which I
love), so I'll give it a try, and if you don't like my work, no hard

Well, the client loved my work, hired me, and the rest is history. I
worked for that company for 10 years. During that time I did my MA in
technical authorship (writing) and graduated with honors, and became the
President of STC Israel. I learned far more than I ever dreamed I would
and loved working in the high paced hi tech world of Israel.

When I got married last year, long distance relationships not being my
idea of optimal for married health, I moved to the US, and am trying to
continue my career here.

Sadly, contracting is not the same as being salaried, and jobs are not a
plenty in this beautiful State. But I have a wonderful husband and two
lovely step-daughters (not to mention our currently 11 dogs, 15+ cats,
25 chickens, 25+ ducks, and 10 or more rabbits) and I do have a job...
(and I'm very proud of our girls who placed in the State 4-H dog show...

Now I'm a contractor for a manufacturing company. Have to admit, I find
a lot of the work boring and unmotivating. I terribly miss working with
medical devices, and the mental challenge it was. On the other hand, I
have a lot more energy when I get home, and the 8 hour days (vs 10-12
hour days) is a definite plus!

So that is how I got into Technical writing - and I do still enjoy it!


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