The point of my existence

by Mumpy 

Hello everybody. Long time, no write. I know I’ve been extremely quiet but as well as being "technical writer extraordinaire", I have also been run ragged with a loved one in hospital so I ask for your patient understanding.

It’s all back to business for me this week though, which includes the usual run of outward-bound, aggressive emails and two hour arguments over commas.

Anyway – I had a marvelous encounter yesterday which simply begged to be written down and shared with other technical writers. So here is my story for today.

A very nice developer calls me up and tells me she has developed a new Auditing tool and please can I write a User Guide. "No problem," I say. "When can we meet?" she asks. "How about tomorrow," says I. "Hmm," she says. "I can’t do tomorrow because I’m meeting for 3 hours with the training guy so I can show him how the Auditing tool works because he has to give a presentation on it."

There is a moment’s silence while my mind boggles in several different destinations at once.

Finally, I manage to get out a coherent sentence in a small but determined voice, “Erm, perhaps I should be at that meeting as well.” “Oh no,” she says, “but he has to explain it to other people – so he needs to actually see how the tool works.”

There is another long silence in which I try desperately to remember the point of my existence on earth. I break it with a small, quivering voice, “Perhaps I may be permitted to join that meeting as well?” I venture. “After all, if I’m documenting it, I do need, ha ha, to have some kind of knowledge of the tool.” She agrees immediately of course – she has probably sensed danger levels in my tone.

After the phone call, I am consumed with a sense of all-encompassing ennui. Why did it not occur to her that I need to know how the tool works in order to write a User Guide? What does she think documentation is – if not trying to explain things to other people? Am I really going to have spend my entire working life explaining this kind of thing to other people?

So that is my story fortoday and now if you will excuse me I have to go and see a man about a comma.

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