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Technical Writing by Mark Metcalfe, Publications Professional

When I left Wang Laboratories and joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC to the DECCIES), I was hired to write about how to define tags in the Standard Digital Markup Language (SDML), a proprietary version for developing DEC documentation. My background in programming languages made me a good fit for the job. After I had ramped up on the project for several weeks, I called my supervisor one day and asked him if I could have another project. He immediately scheduled a meeting between us in a conference room.

In a serious tone, he said to me, "Um, Mark, we usually finish a project around here before asking for another project." I laughed and said, "No, no, you misunderstood! I meant that I was looking for an additional project." I felt that I could handle more than what put on my plate (and during the heyday of DEC, I could). I had volunteered to do more.

I did not get a new project right away, but it was not long before I was tapped for projects that needed urgent attention. Tackling hot projects is sometimes called "fire fighting" and I was developing a reputation for it. I built a good track record of it and carried this reputation throughout my writing career.

Mark Metcalfe

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 2:58 PM | Back to top

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