You’ve Got Skills

And so do I. Our skills aren’t they same, but they are equally valuable. This is what I’d like people I work with to understand.

Part of being a technical writer or editor means being invisible and vastly underappreciated. We don’t get a byline or an author credit anywhere. People often toss our creations aside, preferring to figure out how the product works on their own. And for the most part, we don’t mind. We wouldn’t do what we do otherwise. But being devalued by your own co-workers and collaborators, the people who do the “real” work—the subject matter experts (SMEs), the engineers—can really get under our skin. Continue reading →

Kill Your Illogical Darlings

Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings. – Arthur Quiller-Couch

If you’ve taken a few writing classes, you’ve undoubtedly heard this piece of advice. I heard it many, many times, but didn’t really grasp its application until I started seriously working on novels and short stories a few years ago. I have since learned it well and have files and files of bits of writing that I am super proud of, and yet, for one reason or another, are fatally flawed and won’t ever make it into a finished piece.  Continue reading →

Struggles of the Wannabe Grammar Police

On my neighborhood Nextdoor site, I recently saw a post about a lost dog that was found. In response, one person wrote, “Glad this tale/tail has a happy ending.” I started to roll my eyes at her seemingly unnecessary decision to clarify that she was making a pun, but then I stopped. The truth is, I can easily put myself inside her mind. I’m constantly making calculations in my head about whether I should speak “correctly” or speak like most people around me do.  Continue reading →

The Novel: The Real Writing…Doesn’t Begin

This was not a very productive month. We only wrote about 3,000 words total.

Ironman was working full force on a side project and I, well, I have no excuse. I was in a massive slump from the time I got back from Spain until my birthday. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t work on my short stories or on this novel, or even do any journaling. I barely even read anything. I’ve been wasting time on the internet and mindless shows on Netflix and tossing and turning all night with self-loathing over said time-wasting. Continue reading →

The Novel: Tough Topics

Progress continues, full steam ahead! We have written 31 total scenes now, and we started doing some compilation and review work. I’ve also been doing some more research and thinking in general about this book.

Our book deals with some heavy themes, so I’ve been reading some of the most popular YA books from 2017 to get a feel for how certain topics are being handled. I haven’t read YA in such a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I remember reading YA when I was in the target age. I seemed to skip from Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden when I was in middle school right to Stephen King and other very adult books in high school.  Continue reading →

A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

The Novel: 16 Drafted Scenes

It has been one month since I posted about the New Year’s resolution that happened to me, so it seems to be a good time for a status update. Posting about the novel and talking to people about it helps keep me accountable and working on it, though my co-author is also doing a really good job of that too. If it were up to me, I probably would have quit already. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying writing this book, because I very much am. I believe the story line is engaging and relevant to teens, and I know we have the writing chops. I just have a strong history of failure at keeping myself working on any of my projects.

So far, we’ve written 16 scenes. By written, I mean we only have a very rough first draft, but we’ve got the basic conflict and tension in each scene, and know what purpose each serves in driving the plot forward. Some of the details of these scenes will undoubtedly change, but it feels good to have this amount of work laid out. We have 20 more scenes planned out, with copious notes and ideas for each, ready to be written as soon as we have the time. We spent hours each day on our Big Bend trip talking through plot points we were stuck on and characters we didn’t know that well. We had planned to write actual scenes during that time, but stepping away from the writing for a bit to talk out the story, to get inside our characters heads and be them for a little while, was extremely useful in terms of moving us forward. Continue reading →

What Is It I Do Exactly?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s taken me years to really remember/know/understand what most of my friends do for a living. Some of them don’t really know what I do either. And hell, I dated someone for many years and never quite understood what he did. Probably that’s because he generally slept in until 10 am, surfed the internet all day, and then took people out for drinks and dinner, but there must have been some kind of work in there somewhere. The friends whose jobs I can actually describe well are friends who I’ve worked with or whose industries I’ve worked in.

Well, if you’re following my blog and wondering what it is I do, I write technical manuals. User guides, upgrade guides, installation guides, and all kinds of other technical content for a cyber security company. At least, that’s what I do in the current iteration of the full time employment phase of my life. In other iterations, I’ve been an ESL teacher, a localization/translation project coordinator, and the managing editor of an elearning company. So, I’ve always worked with language in some form or another. Continue reading →

The Novel: New Year, New Project

I didn’t choose a New Year’s resolution, but a resolution chose me. I’m coauthoring a YA novel. This is an unexpected turn brought about in part by reading No Country for Old Men and by a personal and highly controversial project Ironman was working on. No, none of that is supposed to make sense to you. Perhaps I’ll explain someday if this novel is successful and I end up on a book tour.

To get in the right head space for writing for this audience, I spent some time looking back through my senior yearbook. I’m not in the yearbook as much as I was in previous years because I only went to school a half day that year. I was all about making money at my awesome Burger King job, hanging out with my college-age friends, and being done with Alden once and for all. But, I still had friends in school and they left some entertaining and often cryptic messages on the pages of that yearbook. Continue reading →