Hello, and how does one come to do what you do?

Subject: Hello, and how does one come to do what you do?
From: Scott Mossman <ZCC3215 -at- SAKAAU03 -dot- BITNET>
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 13:13:13 G+3

Hello, and How does one come to be a technical writer?

I hope the you don't mind my using this list for this kind of inquiry, but I am
currently teaching at a university in Saudi Arabia and no other options presen
t themselves. I have been lurking on this list of a couple of weeks precisely
because when I was coming to the end of my M.A. in English last year a friend
of mine from Palo Alto suggested tech writing as an alternative option to what
I'm doing now. At the moment I'm teaching english to Saudi engineering students
, even though my degree was actually a lit degree.

So, here are a few questions that I would truly appreciate answers to if anyone
is up to answering them. I have a BA and MA in English, and though I'm very mec
anically minded (I was the one in the family always asked to figure out the new
gagets we came across) I don't have an technical background. How much will tha
t hurt? Do I need to go through a tech writing program? If so, which program's
are recommended? I've been told that the program at San Jose is good. After hav
ing just taken two years to get my MA from a program that was not very supporti
ve, I'm especially interested in not spending time in a program that doesn't
help its students 'exit'. I'm rapidly approaching my thirtieth year, would you
consider that too late an age to make a start? When technical writers have been
something else first, is there a particular area that they usually come from?
Is there a geographical area that tends to have the kinds of companies that nee
d technical writers (e.g. silicon valley?)? In my lurking I've come to the conc
lusion that much of the work is done on contract. What portion of the work is d
one by freelancers contracted for only a single project as opposed to full time
employees? Finally, would you recommend it as a career? Are you satisfied by th
e work you're doing? Can you earn enough to make a life? What would you say wer
e the single most positive and negative things about it?

To those of you who have advice or answers to offer, thanks very much, in advan
ce. Respond to me personally or to the list, as you see fit. If I don't reply i
n five days, please send again. This university's system is far from imperfect.

Cheers from Saudi Arabia,
Thanks again,


Scott L. Mossman
King Abdul Aziz University
English Language Centre
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Internet: zcc3215%sakaau03 -dot- bitnet -at- vtbit -dot- cc -dot- vt -dot- edu
Bitnet: zcc3215 -at- sakaau03 -dot- bitnet

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