After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

The Vacation of Technical Writing

Posted on January 28, 2010
Filed Under The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

Wipe that smug look off your face… you didn’t catch this technical writer misspelling “Vocation.” The word “Vacation” is intentional and entirely appropriate.

As a contract technical writer I have traveled a lot. It’s one of the perks of what I do.  It’s less hard on the family now that the children are grown, so I tend to do more of it and in fact I seek out interesting assignments in interesting places.

I have some wonderful memories of my writing “vacations.”  I’ve prowled an amazing used book store a few miles from Texas A&M University.  I’ve partied at a Moscow restaurant with Russian engineers watching barely-clad showgirls through a vodka-induced haze.  I’ve returned from a “hard” day of writing and walked to a lake a hundred feet from the front door of my apartment in Virginia and fly fished for bass until it was too dark to see the fly.  I’ve called my wife from the beach in La Jolla to tell her it is 70 degrees and the skies are blue, and she’s told me it’s twenty below, the pipes are frozen, and maybe it would be a good idea for me to get my ass home.  I’ve worked on the set of a simulated nuclear plant control room on a sound stage in Pittsburgh—surrounded by the set of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood—making last-minute edits to a videotape script.  I’ve been welcomed like a long-lost relative by the hospitable folks at a Virginia church.  During the last few years of my father’s life, when my work took me to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’d stay with him in my childhood home and we’d just talk the evening away.  And my wife and I have turned writing assignments into real vacations; a week in Vienna, a warm mid-winter stay in Florida, and more.

Even the writing projects close to home are vacations.  Invariably, you make new friends, learn about new (to you) technologies, lunch at new restaurants with your colleagues, and generally expand your horizons.

Do you write?  If so, you are a lucky man or woman… count your blessings and enjoy your vacations. – Dennis Owen


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