Re: Advice Requested: "What part of this is yours?"

Subject: Re: Advice Requested: "What part of this is yours?"
From: Sella Rush <sellar -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 15:13:26 -0700

I think what's prompting this question is that you start out by saying that
your boss brought in a handbook from a previous employer and that you
*edited and rewrote* it. (There's a difference between what tech editors
and tech writers do--she may have been simply trying to place you.)

My guess is that she wants to make sure you didn't just "pretty up" an
existing document. She wants to read a section that *you wrote* (or
significantly rewrote).

Realize that there's a big difference between using an existing document as
a *guide*--that is, to give you an idea of what information to include--and
simply editing for grammar and substituting the right company name. Also,
most (probably all) of us take raw material from other sources and
incorporate it into our work. For example, when one of the developers
writes a paragraph about their work, I don't rewrite it just to be able to
call it my own--sometimes it will end up in documentation with only minor

Only you can evaluate where your situation falls, but don't sell your
contribution short. If you did reorganize and rewrite large sections, give
yourself credit for it.

For future interviews, if you feel you must mention the existing document,
you might be better off saying you used it as a guide (if this is true),
rather than implying that you revised it.

For this account manager (as well as for others), look at the document and
identify sections that you either wrote or significantly rewrote. Emphasize
that the organization, presentation, and editing quality is all yours, and
point out these sections for examples that best characterize your writing
ability and style.

Sella Rush
mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington
Developers of the CCM Database

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