RE: Squashed ego--techwriter syndrome?

Subject: RE: Squashed ego--techwriter syndrome?
From: Karen Field <kfield -at- STELLCOM -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 09:32:00 -0700

It's so odd that this came up today. I just started this job as the first
tech writer the company's ever had, and yesterday I felt the need to sit
down with my boss and say, "You know, some people seem to think I'm just a
typist. Is that how you see it?" He very wisely said No and then--without
prompting--correctly stated my purpose here.

To help educate people here that tech writing is a lot more than
"beautifying" documents, I'm going to write a document: "The Care and
Feeding of Your Technical Writer." This document will include descriptions
of the tech writer's role as user advocate, language specialist, desktop
publishing specialist, and on and on.

Sean, I don't think you're being too sensitive either. I'm glad you came to
the list with this. If no one else does, tech writers at least respect each
other's work.

Karen Field
Sr. Technical Writer
Stellcom, Inc.
kfield -at- stellcom -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: John David Hickey [mailto:dave -at- toonboom -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 1999 7:57 AM
Subject: RE: Squashed ego--techwriter syndrome?


> > The project manager fired off an e-mail genuinely
> > thanking everyone for
> > their effort and specifically thanking me for
> > "beautifying" the
> > documentation. I'm, er, not entirely happy with
> > that. It would have been
> > better had nothing been said. "Beautifying"
> > ????????????
> Sean. I think you're being overly sensitive.

I don't think he is being overly sensitive. Beautifying is not a term I
would like to use to describe what I do. It's one of those weird terms that
praises and belittles at the same time.

However, I do like John's suggestion of listing the other positive
contributions Sean made to the project. Even though the manager singled Sean
out for his good work, simply saying that Sean beautified a document is not
only patronizing, but it justifies a dangerous mindset with the other
members of the team ("I don't have time to answer your questions! I'm make a
serious contribution to the project, not just "prettying-up" a document!").

I think it's sometimes tough in our business to be assertive and promote our
craft without being arrogant or pretentious. It's a very narrow ledge.
Be seeing you,

John David Hickey
Grand Poohbah of Documentation
ToonBoom Technologies
Montreal, Quebec, Canada eh?
pg: 514-205-9209

They say the pen is mightier than the sword.
But if you miss a deadline, you'd better bring the sword.
Don't confuse my opinions with my employer's.
Each exists in blissful ignorance of the other.

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