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  • Time to beat my drum a bit, if you don't mind...

    Recently I described myself as a recovering technical writer, which is true in several senses. First, I'm trying to recover an engaging prose style from the second-person-present-tense-active-voice-no-indirect-antecedents mode that is technical communication. I believe I've progressed some, even leveraging my tech-writing skills to know when to add telling details to stories, but I'm far from the top.

    Second, I'm recovering from job loss following a six-month hell during which management, apparently irritated by my allegiance to the company's alleged core principles, humiliated and then ejected me. It was a slow-mo water torture administered by my supervisor, a lovely colleague transmogrified into a witch by her boss, the Red Queen.

    After working temp jobs six out of the 18 last months, I'm recovering from the realization that to find steady work as a technical communicator, it seems I need to understand computer networking, cloud computing, biomedical protocols, Web page design, and/or various programing languages and authoring tools. Some of these things I do know, but my expertise dwindles a bit every day. Getting training in any of these can be expensive, and who knows whether it would ever pay off.

    My enthusiasm for growing my GQ (geek quotient) is somewhat curbed by the realization that there's little chance that anyone at my level of seniority will get an offer for full-time professional employment plus benefits. Even if I trim my resume to the last 15 years, they will know I'm older than that at some point and look to fresher meat. So I am also recovering from confronting evidence that I'm over the hill.

    After NPR emailed a request for "discouraged workers" to tell them their stories, I wrote back and was quickly contacted by one of their reporters. I told her most of what I've said here, and got 15 seconds of fame for my trouble. The other people interviewed are all older workers who, despite returning to school or getting training, have failed to get a lasting job. We're part of the crowd that's "limping across the finish line to retirement," as one economist observed.

    So what's my plan besides searching for writing and editing work in my area? A major part of my recovery therapy has been publishing a pastiche of Cowbird stories. I'm also slowly putting together a book about how technology affects and directs the human condition and people's perceptions of the world. My POV is that too many scientific and technical innovations are driven by a quest for power and profit, not to accomplish something useful or beneficial to society or the planet. Related excesses of American capitalism drove the economy off a cliff in 2007, and those of us without aero-cars hit the ground like Wiley Coyote. Some of my Cowbird stories also grapple with these ideas, such as eight essays musing on high tech tagged Silica Saga, and a 22-episode story featuring discouraged workers and a vision of a new economy, tagged That Sound.

    Marketing myself is not one of my core competencies. What I can tell you is that besides being pretty good at documenting how to use software, I'm also peddling my skills as an editor, which I also do well and enjoy, and as an online journalist (here's a portfolio). But bloggers are a dime a dozen at most, given that most work for nothing. So, if you have any job tips for me, please do a retell here or quietly say hey to admin at maxentropyproductions dot net, and thankyouverymuch for your concern.
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