Re: Respect?

Subject: Re: Respect?
From: Moshe Koenig <alsacien -at- NETVISION -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 21:24:30 PDT

>If you want respect

> o sell used cars

I have a 1976 Volkswagen beetle. Any offers?

> o become a lawyer

Never work. I couldn't find the cheese in the maze.

> o do Rodney Dangerfield imitations

What imitation? That's ME!!!! (Or, as a purist would assert, It is I.)

>but don't become a tech writer

I guess that's why I've got a rather Murphy Brown-esque style. Did
anyone ever try to slight her? The best defense IS a good offense!

If I have to look at the situation seriously (moan, groan), I think
the problem is just that the role of the technical writer is so
poorly defined in so many organizations. I've managed to earn a good
measure of respect in many places, even in one job where I ended up
locking horns with a manager and leaving by slamming the door behind
me, but it's been largely because of a policy of Don't Tread On Me.
It's one of the reasons that I very much oppose those "elitist"
technical writers who look down on anyone with less than a D.Sc. in
some ultra-technical discipline. I remember what it was like as a
novice technical writer to convince others that I knew how to
construct a laundry list; the people would look at my resume and
screech, "What's this? Eastman School of Music?!?!?!?!?!?" After
that, I had to bust my butt to prove that I knew what I was doing,
as if one expertise excluded others. Today I have a history of
success to back me up, but I haven't forgotten the bitter beginnings
and can feel compassion for people just starting out. I'm one of the
first to rush to defend a novice writer when I feel that the writer
needs help instead of condemnation. I'm always happy when I manage
to get someone over the hurdles in a way that nobody helped me; I
may be beyond hope when it comes to seeing the world through rose
colored glasses, but if I spare someone else the bitterness I
encountered, I've done enough.

Interestingly enough, the last salaried job I had was with a site
of a major world computer giant that closed for various sordid
reasons. The experience was awful; I was bored and isolated for
most of my period there, and I didn't have a single document to
show for it because everything was proprietary. However, I learned
later that I got a lot of praises from my former co-workers that
went a long way for me. Not always is the feedback immediate. If I
could give a word of advice, it's that if the feedback is non-
existent, it could be a delayed reaction, so wait a while; if
your work is terrible, you'll hear VERY quickly, but it could be
wonderful and yet nobody gets around to telling you.

- Moshe

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