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Archive for May, 2010

I appear to have accidentally become a sort of a professional writer. I do lots of other stuff besides, but a large chunk of my job now involves writing User Guides, Release Notes and so on. Apparently, this makes me a technical author. Thinking about what I’ve done in the past, this really shouldn’t surprise me.

My degree was probably the most wordy of the sciences (Ecology), and so long as I could persuade myself to sit and do it, I never had any difficulties writing up experiments and such. I was even quite good at it, although I was not so good at getting anywhere near word limits – I just wrote as much (or more often as little) as I thought it actually needed.

My first “proper” job was in the periphery of the legal world. I was a Law Costs Draftsman (yes, that is the right spelling, it has nothing to do with architecture) for five years. I was two essays away from becoming an Associate Member of the professional society when I quit. The job was mostly going through legal files and adding up how much time had been spent on it, to work out how much the solicitor should try to claim from whoever was responsible for the costs. It was sometimes fascinating, but often repetitive and tedious. The other aspect was writing case summaries to be presented to the Court, in cases where the relevant parties couldn’t agree on the costs and had to ask for a judgement. I could turn several large boxes of papers into an intelligible three page summary, and I even quite enjoyed it. It was the actual costing side (and not very good employers) that eventually drove me away from it.

While I was there, I also did something else that has recently struck me as very relevant to my accidental new career. I wrote several chapters of an internal manual that set out the processes and purposes of being a Law Costs Draftsman. In particular, I wrote the chapter on narratives (for that is what the case summary bit was called). So, I documented how to document a legal case.

And yet I’m surprised that I’ve ended up working with documentation. Maybe it’s because I┬ánever much liked English Literature lessons when we had to find half a dozen different meanings in the one sentence. Lack of ambiguity never seemed highly rated in that world. It may also be that I have always lacked inspiration. Just occasionally, an idea strikes me, and I can write something that I can be proud of. The rest of the time… nothing.

To exercise my newly realised but long-held talent for writing, I need to write more. I’m finding that I’m actually enjoying it. Work provides me with plenty of hard-core technical writing, but I’d like something a little more fun than “then click save“. I have another blog elsewhere that I use for pointless rubbish and memes, but I want something a little meatier than that. This blog here looks perfect for the purpose, so now I just have to sit down and write more often!

And that’s where I hit trouble. I have no idea what to write about. So help me please, dear reader. What would you like me to write about here?

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