Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: Hope Cascio <hope -dot- d -dot- cascio -at- US -dot- ARTHURANDERSEN -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 13:36:23 -0400

trocco -at- NAVIS -dot- COM (tgr) wrote:

> Sounds strange, but if programming in C and Java and knowing the
intricacies of networking were our first loves,
> we'd be engineers and programmers. But writing and editing are our first
loves, so we're technical writers, not technical >people.
I'm both, actually... I'm fascinated by how computers work, and will learn
whatever anyone will teach me about programming and markup languages, and
I'm a technical writer (with a BA in English... Milton who? just kidding)
but I also sing and draw. Not everyone's passions all fall neatly into a
category like "technical."

>Why be a technical writer and not a poet, novelist, or journalist, then?
The answer is green, as in the color of money. In an >ideal world, I'd
probably be one of the above rather than a tech writer. But the world ain't
ideal.

That would not be my answer to the question. Novelists, poets,
journalists, ad copywriters, and technical writers all have different
styles and goals in writing. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm here
because I'm *really* a bitter, unpublished journalist. And plenty of
people who'd rather be novelists are welders, dentists, social workers, and
investors... IOW, I don't think it's necessarily a natural progression from
"not quite good/confident enough poet" to "technical writer."
>My goal in life, professionally speaking, has always been to support
myself *well* working as a writer. Tech writing is the >only way I have
found to do this. Journalism and publishing, both of which I have tried,
don't pay adequately. Advertising >copywriting is sleazy. Tech writing pays
and it's ethical and actually helps people.

If your professional goal was only as general as being able to support
yourself well working as a writer, then tech writing is a fine choice. If
your real goal, though, was to write the Great American Novel and you're
*settling,* I don't think you're doing yourself, your employer, or your
audience a service. I know that almost no one grows up to be what they
dreamed of when they were nine years old, but at least I am doing what I
thought would make me pretty happy, and I wasn't too far off. I like what
I do.
>I will always think of myself as a writer and editor first, and anything
else second. I will earn my living worrying primarily >about bullets and
style sheets as long as I can.

I hope that writers and editors don't primarily concern themselves with
bullets and style sheets, but I guess that's what the list has been
disagreeing on all day.

My $.02,
Hope Cascio




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