Reaping what someone else sows…

By on 12-27-2005 in Technical Writing

Will Kelly: Why your coworkers think you are a technical writer with a stick up your a**

I hear ya, Will. By all the gods, do I hear you.

I came across something like this when I trekked westward to spend a week with my parents and brother for Christmas.

My second day in town, a friend of my parents invited us all to their holiday party that they hold for friends and business associates. Nice. So, about a half hour into arriving, I struck up a conversation with Someone (can’t remember the name) and His Wife, and when it came to the “what do you do” part, I told the truth.

Me: I’m a technical writer at a software company.

He: Oh. I don’t like you already.

Me: Well, GREAT! That’s really good to hear.

She: (confused but trying to be polite) Yes, well, I suppose if you like that sort of thing, it could be enjoyable.

He: I hate manuals. I never read them and I tell all my employees to ignore them because they’re never right.

Me: Well, you know, few people actually read them. That’s one reason why a lot of companies don’t bother to spend the money to make good ones. You know, hiring people who know what they’re doing, etc. I don’t blame you for ignoring them, really. It’s probably more cost-effective for you to hire a consultant to train everyone.

(Of course, to an entrepreneurial good-ole-boy like this guy, “consultant” is only marginally dirtier than “software manual.”)

And then they turned and left to talk to someone presumably more important. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I also couldn’t help but think about what’s worse: a stick-up-the-ass tech writer, or a similarly disposed business exec?

I figured they deserve each other. But still, that’s what comprises the tech writing landscape, and it’s more than a little chilling to behold.

So, remind me again, why in the *hell* would anyone want to be a tech writer *now*?

One Comment

  1. I hate telling a stranger that I’m a technical writer; the reaction is almost always as you describe. Instead, I’ll just say that I work in software, which by itself is usually enough to discourage further questions, unless they’re in the industry too.