Re: Editing comments too harsh

Subject: Re: Editing comments too harsh
From: Moshe Koenig <alsacien -at- NETVISION -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 23:30:28 PDT

I've read the comments that many others have made, and I tend to believe
that personal chemistry has a lot to do with the way people react. I'm
known to be very outspoken when I make comments, but I only ran into
serious opposition in one job. In that job, there was no question WHY I
encountered problems; not only did I leave slamming the door behind me,
but I also told the division manager that if he or anyone else from the
company dared call my home to ask me a work-related question, I would
file a complaint with the police! I later added that if Saddam Hussein
ever started firing Scuds our way again, I'd climb on top of the company
building and paint a bulls-eye. So you can see, I don't pull punches.

You'd think that being a male Murphy Brown would mean that I'd be the
writer nobody wants. If that were true, then I'm just not good enough
at being obnoxious. I'm fighting like the devil right now to wind down
my outside activities so that I can take a salaried position after
close to a year of frenzied freelancing that has all but put me in a
padded cell. No matter how hard I hit, I find that the engineers value
my input, sharp though it may be. I tell them that it's better that
they get it from me, a friend, than to get it from disgruntled

If a writer hears from a manager that his/her comments are too caustic,
start looking for a job and leave that manager high and dry. He/she
deserves it. Don't be the good-hearted one; when you leave, do what
the Americans did when they left Vietnam: leave only rust behind. When
I left the job I mentioned earlier, I told them that I intended not to
leave even a trace that I was there behind me for one reason only: that
they could miss me when I was gone. Once I was out of the picture, it
wasn't long before the absence of my invisible support began to be felt.
I have never set foot back into that building, have no intention of
doing so, and although I know that they are paying many contractors to
come to do things that I could do better and more efficiently, I believe
that living well is the best revenge; I'll always say no to them.

Do I ever sound like an overstuffed ego! Well, I hate to say it, but
you have to be a bit that way to survive in technical writing. You get
so accustomed to facing criticism and getting so little appreciation
that a strong ego is just a means of surviving. I admit that I miss
my days as a fiction writer, as a journalist, as an author, and I'd
like to do it again someday, which is why I'm going back to a salaried
job; as a freelancer, I can't justify the time I spend doing what I
like to do if it doesn't bring immediate income.

At any rate, I say, if you have something to say, don't be apologetic
about it. You're sure to get complaints if you sound spineless. Say
what you have to say and be ready to stand behind it. That's what it
means to be professional.

- Moshe

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