It is interesting how a small step can lead one in a new direction—in this case, from public relations writer to technical writer and more!
When I moved to California from Boston, after only two months, I landed a technical writing and editing job—Christmas week!
I interviewed with a placement agency. Then I met the client—an environmental engineering consulting firm. Showing my writing samples impressed my interviewer, who was the hiring manager. She brightened up when I showed her a position paper I wrote—my closest sample of technical writing in my portfolio—which I wrote as a public relations writer at an insurance company on a technical issue. That position paper was the piece that convinced my hiring manager to hire me.
I worked there for six years writing and editing technical reports and proposals. In the last three years, I wrote only proposals—sometimes for two days straight (yes, 48 hours in the office). One time, ours and adjacent business buildings lost power so another technical writer and I spent the weekend putting together a proposal on laptops—without WIFI!
Another time, another technical writer had to get a proposal to Yucaipa, CAby 5 p.m.—more than 60 miles away! At 2 p.m., the courier says that he is leaving because he can not guarantee delivery to Yucaipaby 5 p.m. So the other technical writer and I grab the keys to a company car without signing out for it, get on the freeway, into the carpool lane going 20 mph, on a Friday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend! We get to Yucaipa at 4:50 p.m., which had few sidewalks or people, arrive at the client’s building, with an empty parking lot, and notice an employee going out the back door. We convince him to p-l-e-a-s-e just get the time stamp on the proposalbefore 5 p.m., which he did at seeing desperation across our faces.
Another time, just before I was laid off, I coordinated a team of engineers, scientists, planners, a graphics designer, a word processor together with the project manager to produce our first desktop-published proposal and our largest proposal ever from that office—the process took 14 straight days of 10- to 12-hour days.
So after that project and more than 200 fast-track proposals, Standard Forms (SF) 254/255, and statements of qualifications in the previous three years, plus numerous reports like feasibility studies—I was relieved to be laid off!
One day in the following week, I went to meet, get a photo with, and get a book autographed by, the author Dean Koontz—one of my favorite authors and a great way to start a week free of deadlines!