Wednesday, October 03, 2012

In Process -- September 2012

First Draft

“Fairfax”. Around 120K, this had better end soon. 

One of my colleagues was somewhat worked up because it was performance review season and she’d read an article about how Steve Jobs pushed employees to take it to the next level and get out of their comfort zone. In the day job, no one does that for us. Our boss is part-time and big on “exception management” where if no one is complaining about us then everything must be fine.

I’m of the mind that it’s not exactly our boss’s job to push us to write better manuals, and anyway, we all three have different ideas of how that should be. One of us (not me!) wants more time to copy edit things. The other wants... I don’t know what, if I could provide it I would, I think someone to point out structure problems and missing content. I think I want a better immersion in the products that we write about. A lot of my manuals describe what to do, but not why. No one is really going to do that, and we don’t have time to deeply read each other’s work.  If I had time, I might try to figure out how the different products I work on interact with each other (interoperability – I do a lot of stuff that chains together one item to the next).

We’ve been to meetings where this one manager who is a frigging genius at troubleshooting. We love to sit in the room and watch as he rules out different scenarios and makes a list, verbally off the top of his head, things to try. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what he did (what his role was within the company). I saw him as a manager-at-large, but as we’ve evolved he’s now the managing director of a team I work with. What’s the difference between him and us? He thinks about this stuff at home, when he’s not here. He cares about the technology. He probably has a home entertainment system and chooses an eReader based on actual technical specifications, not on what was the first one I saw in the store.

In among the differences between the three tech writers on this team, comes the idea that we need to engage ourselves.
I am extremely unlikely to get into case mods or building a home entertainment centre at any high level, or even reading phone or laptop reviews. I don’t go to industry meetings, nor would they mean anything to me if I did. I’ve been to one STC meeting like ever, and one course because it was free (I won it sort of). None of my friends are corporate-external clients of my industry (this is not even true, but I never talk “shop” to the one person I know in the industry). How can I get me some of what that manager has?

I write.

What I’m going to do is make (for a little while anyway) story prompts. Every week I’ll write and edit a flash or a short and send it away. The story prompt will ask me to look at some technical thing in a little bit more depth. So, even if I never sell a thing, I’m engaging in my industry mentally and thinking about its future.

I’ll try this for October, and then November is NaNoWriMo, so I won’t do it then. But December...


Third draft finished! No longer an embarrassment.


“Night Garden” (Bome) fair isle cardigan. 15 rows of body to go, and then it’s just edging. Maybe done by November?
Biohazard (pullover) designed by me! 10 inches of body. 

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