Day 31. 161 pages, 58,131 words.
The Ballad of the Technical Writer
10 weeks before deadline
Me: I’ve converted the source material into a proper manual. There’s a whole mess of stuff missing, here’s a copy for you guys to check.
4 weeks before deadline
Me: Welp, I didn’t get any feedback so here’s the printed drafts for approval. There’s still a whole butt-ton of stuff missing though.
2 weeks before deadline
Engineers: There’s a whole butt-ton of stuff missing here!
Me: Would you look at that! Better fix it then. I can just sit here and make up content if you want – I’m a sci-fi author, you know – but I didn’t design the product so maybe you should give me the basics. Otherwise I’ll probably put incorrect information in there. This screen here, for example, probably isn’t a hyperdrive.
1 week before deadline
Engineers: What’s going on with those documents?
Me: They’re done. Oh, but there’s a few things missing. Here’s a list.
4 days to deadline
Me (standing at engineer’s desk with print-out, blocking access to aisle and coffee machine): Hey, there’s some stuff missing here, let’s talk about it.
Engineer (grabbing print-out in shaking hands): Yeah, this can be cut, this is fine, I don’t know why I commented on this, get rid of that, this is okay, and all of this content has to come from the manufacturers. Escalate it to the department heads and they’ll get in touch with them.
Me: No problem, I’ll send it on. Get yourself a coffee, you’ve earned it.
2 days to deadline
Fellow Technical Writer: Hey, was this weird e-mail meant to go to you? Looks like it’s gone all around the world.
Me (looking at FWDed e-mail, scrolling down, growing steadily more amused): Yep, yep that’s meant to be for me. And they still didn’t actually answer the question. I can’t write this stuff for them, if they want the proper information about these components they need to tell me about them.
1 day to deadline
Me: Hey, here’s a draft where I have written the information for you. Can you tell me if it’s even remotely correct?
M-O-O-N, that spells Not My Goddamn Problem.