A Writing Career Found by Fate
Well, to be honest, STC (the Society for Technical Communication) didn’t really shape my writing career, fate did. Or rather, fate gave me a BIG push (and by ‘push’ I actually mean shoved) in that direction.
The Blessing of Maintenance Manuals
I was blessed (and sometimes cursed) by an inquisitive nature as a child and teenager. I believe I actually stormed out of the house when my father refused to teach me about car maintenance for my 1981 Toyota Corolla. In his mind, it was ‘his’ job; and that I would just make a mess of things. I would get the last laugh on that topic as years later, I began my tech writing career as an editor for a company that created engine maintenance manuals for, you guessed it, Toyota, as well as other manufacturers. I not only learned about how to do car maintenance, I was pretty good at it and showing my other girlfriends how to do things like change a tire.
No Teacher Like Life
They (the powers that be) always say there’s no teacher like life. I went to college to get my degree in journalism. I’ve always loved words (Scrabble anyone?) and loved learning things and getting ideas across to other people. I figured my life to be in public relations. And as I mentioned, fate had other plans in store, like a car accident the summer before graduation. I did graduate, but was desperate for a job and took one as an administrative assistant to VP of Development, Design and Construction of well-known restaurant chain.
My main task(s) were to write reports with graphics showing development projections; writing policy and procedure manuals; as well as create job descriptions. Needless to say, I could do the reports, no problem; but the other stuff, I hadn’t a clue. A class at Orange Coast College caught my eye on an introduction to Technical Writing taught by Don Pierstorff. This lead to my getting the certificate in Technical Writing. In turn, things lead to my student membership in STC (Society for Technical Communication).
In the beginning of my career, STC confirmed that I was on the right path, doing what technical writers should do and I was doing it well.
Most importantly, STC has allowed me to:
- Develop new skills and keep current with tech changes (FrameMaker)
- Learned new technologies (WordPress)
- Got some very good advice (job-hunting)
- Networking where met some really great people (I’m talking to you, Michael Opsteegh)
I met Shauna McGee Kinney (then she was just McGee) at the FrameMaker training seminars. Shauna actually turned out to be not only a terrific friend but an awesome resource as well. And bonus points — I reconnected with an old friend and a college friend when I served as an STC chapter secretary.
My only regret is that in moving to be closer to my job, I had to leave the great people at the Orange County, CA chapter and — wait for it, there is no chapter in the area where I live or where I work.