Re: Boring Discussions

Subject: Re: Boring Discussions
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 09:44:25 +0000

> I am a recent new subscriber to this list and am also wondering a
> bit about the boredem factor (mein angstliches Gefuehl ist, dass die
(stuff deleted
> I really want to fall in love with the idea of becoming a technical
> writer, could somebody please help convince me that the above
> impressions are wrong?

Willard, you've brought up a good NEW discussion now! I think many of
us have asked why we want to be technical writers...some of us
perhaps should have. So, ask yourself what is it about technical
writing that attracted you in the first place? With the answer to
that question in mind, now ask yourself if it's realistic. The answer
may be no.

George Allaman said:" I love it. And I love this listserv. I would say that if
you don't
feel just an eense of a thrill and a knee-jerk to go for the kill when
somebody writes, "No, NO NOOO, you imbecile, you must ALWAYS hyphenate
compound modifier structures!!", then perhaps you are in the wrong

It's not a preoccupation with minutiae. It's a love of the language,
in all its wonderful, convoluted, contradictory, myriad
manifestations. I find this list at once thought-provoking, fun, and
extremely informative for my chosen profession."

I think he put it beautifully. I came to technical writing because I
found I'd learned all that I wanted to know about linguistics.
Aaarrggh. Please note that the operative words here are "that I
wanted to know...." I still love linguistics, but spending six hours
discussing the nuances of a language for which only 6 living
speakers remain is not my idea of a good time. Technical writing
allows me to combine my loves of language, writing, and computers (I
write for a software developer). It is THE PERFECT CAREER for me,
and I'm passionate about it. It's also a good career for those who
love teaching, but not necessarily in a traditional classroom. I do
get frustrated with some technical writers who seem to not care
about issues of cognition, readability, design, theory, etc.

I am active in the local STC chapter and I come across, sadly, many
writers who simply see their jobs as a step above clerical. As long
as the grammar is correct, to heck with the rest of it, they seem to
say. They know nothing and care nothing for new ideas, for
exploration on what makes their readers learn or understand or do
something. They don't care what readability studies say about bullets
and lists, about readable type, about usability studies. So I suggest
that if these things bore you -- and I don't know that they do or
don't -- then perhaps technical writing is not for you. But don't
base your career on this list. Read some professional journals, read
some of the excellent texts used to teach technical writing theory in
the universities, talk to many different types of technical writers
(medical, scientific, computer, environmental, industrial, and on and
on) before you decide. But do it now, before you find yourself in the
wrong place, doing the wrong thing with your life.

Sorry for being so long-winded. It's an important subject, though.

Jane Bergen
Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com or janeb -at- computek -dot- net
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word
is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug" (Mark Twain)

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