Re: Engineers, writers, Queen Victoria and

Subject: Re: Engineers, writers, Queen Victoria and
From: Marcy Baker Hartman <catguest -at- ISVPROG -dot- EBAY -dot- SUN -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 May 1995 21:01:57 GMT

In article 0100000 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu, James Mathewson <math0038 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu>
writes:
>:On Wed, 3 May 1995, Nancy Marie Ott wrote:
>:
>:> I am an engineer and a writer, and I don't see what the controversy is
>:> about. Those who claim that you can pick up either discipline simply
>:> by taking a few classes are missing the point. The most important
>:> skill for a technical writer is knowing how to learn ... regarless of
>:> whether you start out with an engineering degree or a writing degree.
>:> My engineering background has been an immense asset, but my writing
>:> skills have been equally important.
>:
>:Hear here! I am a tech publisher and a teaching assistant in mechanical
>:engineering. How do I write let alone grade reports from such a diverse
>:field? If I don't know something, I look it up. With the ease and quickness
>:of the WWW, there is no excuse for not being fully informed on the topic about
>:which one is writing. This does not mean one needs to have extensive
>:background in any one field. A good working knowledge of physics and
>:chemistry and an ability to do research efficiently are all
>:one needs as far as background. Writing skill, acquired only through
>:time, effort and a healthy self-critical attitude, is the
>:primary criterion.

These two posts brought to mind something that I learned very early
in my career as a journalist: When interviewing someone, you must
go into the interview knowing all the answers to the questions you are
going to be asking. This is known as background, and requires lots
and lots of research. This lesson was taught to me by a grizzled old
newspaper veteran (picture a cigar chewing guy wearing a fedora
with a press pass sticking out above the brim). He barked at me
one fine day "Honey, you need to keep your a** out of a sling so
that you can sit on it to type your story." This was over thirty
years ago (good God!), and today I consider that one of the most
valuable lessons I have ever learned. It has certainly made me a
much more effective technical communicator!

I returned to college years later for a computer science degree
and have never forgotten that early lesson. In fact, my curiosity
about the rapidly evolving world of computers was what led me
to this new career which used both my writing ability and my
technical expertise.

Marcy


########################################################
"When I think back to all the cr*p Marcy Baker Hartman
I learned in high school, its a Technical Publications Consultant
wonder I can think at all."
trillian -at- netcom -dot- com
- Paul Simon -
catguest -at- isvprog -dot- Ebay -dot- Sun -dot- COM
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