Better Late Than Never

I probably should have started this blog when I began exploring technical writing as a career. But, as they say, “better late than never.”

Earlier this year I was looking for a new direction. My daughter was getting ready to graduate from high school, and I was in a position to give my full attention to something other than math tutoring and being a marching band volunteer. (You would be amazed at the number of volunteer hours required to get 300+ students in uniform and on the field!) After getting a master’s degree and teaching credential a few years ago, I had reluctantly decided classroom teaching was not for me. As passionate as I still am about teaching students they can excel at math, I had to be honest that my skills and inclination favored small groups over classrooms of 35 students. Trying to give my best to 175 students would have consumed me. Not healthy.

I struggled with the question of what to do until I realized writing was a common theme throughout my life. I’ve always enjoyed writing, I wrote poetry and songs in high school and continued writing as an engineer and programmer/analyst. I discovered early on that my process of understanding complex topics resulted in a paper trail. It was a good thing.

I always considered myself a good writer but have to credit my master’s program with making me a real writer. I learned the power of revising (and revising!) and that slashing large chunks of prose made my intent much clearer. Of course, I revised drafts before, but now I became brutal, and I loved it. But the most important way I grew as a writer was in understanding myself. I learned what my personal writing process felt like and to be confident in my ability to sculpt something beautiful from a lump of clay.

So, what is this technical writing gig? I knew I had written plenty of “technical documentation,” but how did that align with technical communicator as a career? Fortunately for me (and this blog) the more I learned, the more things fell into place. I read through job postings, and many of them looked like a good match for my skill set. More importantly, they also sounded exciting. I joined the Society for Technical Communication, met some nice people, and started to learn what I needed to learn. Technical writing turns out to be an ideal mix of my technical background and love of writing good prose. Not a big surprise, but a welcome find none-the-less.

I plan to use this blog both to reflect on my journey and as a vehicle for codifying what I’m learning. I hope to receive feedback and be part of the online conversation. It’s not quite the beginning, but better late than never.

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