Even Technical Writing is Writing v2

This past week has been a mixed blessing.  I’ve had a couple of stories brewing in the back of my head, but this week simply was not going to allow me to put fingers to keyboard for either one.  Once a quarter, my job includes a project I fell into and it’s grown over 12 year to become a number churning, written and heavily-charted package of important data that needs to be organized and understood by our customers.

Previous to my work, it was hit and miss whether any, but the most technical of managers could make well-advised decisions about this area of  system planning and  could cost them millions of dollars if they did not make the right decision.  It was hard, but that was the state I found things in.   One of my customer long ago now, asked me to help her make sense of this quarterly data dump and I agreed.  When I found I had something I thought was useful, I shared it with some peers who shared it with their customers and once started, this snowball would not be denied and now it is hitting almost 300 customer offices around the globe.  If I could tell you the names of these customers, you would recognize them because you most likely are their customers somehow – or you pay taxes to them – or you trust them to keep you safe.

Anyway, this week I was cranky and wanted to work on my creative ideas and was almost caught not paying attention to the fact that this week was the week for my not-so-creative writing project and reluctantly turned to attend to it.  This project starts with that big data dump on a Tues. afternoon.  I have a soft promise to my subscribers that they will have my report by Friday morning – so it’s a long couple of days.

This time, despite my desire to be someplace else, I received several notes of encouragement as I was digging into the task.  That took the shine off of my desire to be almost anywhere else.  Then a gal who worked for me years ago and has been a good friend ever since stepped up to help me with a key part that gave me one evening off.  It took several hours to unwind from the focus needed to make this report correct and readable – but she allowed me to do just that. (okay – okay – yes, I’m smiling now thank you) but my stories are still starving for attention.

Right after folding my friend’s work into the project and doing the last piece, I sent the whole document out for review, just before the phone rang and it was my manager who needed something NOW.  So I had to take a break to produce what was required and ended up chatting with a gal who helped me with part of the task I can’t do for myself and, as it turns out is a cancer survivor and a good friend.  While never fighting this curse directly myself, I have had way too many people around me who have, and you may know I wrote a story (Jaquie’s Story) about how some amazing people helped a gal with her battle with cancer.

Anyway. this wonderful woman, who is still fighting what I pray is the final skirmishes of her own battle had taken time to read my story and told me what a blessing I had been to her regarding her battle and how wonderful my story was.  Wow – try to get that kind of reaction from a piece of technical writing and now I rally wanted to push aside the remaining tasks to my project and get back to the important creative stuff (hmm, where’s that sarcasm emoji when I need it?)

So now, I have a big cup of praise for a story that means a lot to me and the remnants of a big technical piece that has anxious readers standing by all around the globe.  Fine.  I’ll finish the thing.  With the help of several folks who have committed to proof reading the final draft, we got it done well ahead of schedule and sent it out Thursday evening.  Within an hour, I had 3 more subscription requests from folks I’ve never met from China – which always feels good.  What writer would grouse about this?

Friday was a huge catch-up day.  For reasons that have evaded isolation and extermination – my day job never stops for my quarterly project.  It just piles up to avalanche me whenever I try to return to normal.

With an unread-email inbox climbing fast toward triple digits, I’m feeling cranky again, but I decided it was past time to just take a few minutes to reflect back on my week and realized that I really should be focusing on the best part of the week.  I had readers waiting for my report, some even dropping me polite notes asking “when it be ready because my customer here in Some-city-I’ve-never-been-to really values it.”  Previously, others had told me that I took a difficult topic and made it understandable and then how another guy representing a large organization of countries (yes, whole countries) that audaciously sanctions the minting of their own currency and coins wants to write my report into their contract with us.

So – I realized what a fortunate writer I was and how I needed to wad up my cranky mood and trash it because how many writers would love to have this accidental audience?  Those “creative” stories will keep and you may yet see them.

But in the mean time, I’m smiling with gratitude as I sit here after a busy week of writing stuff I doubt any of you would ever – ever want to read.

But you did read this, and that only because you chose to follow my story blog. so I guess I just got the best of both the technical and non-technical audiences.  I going to call this a pretty good week and be thankful for it.

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