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TechCommGeekMom, where have you been? The Delta Quadrant?

I know you haven’t been in the Delta Quadrant. So where have you been?

OK, so it’s been a while. I know. While I wish I could say that I’ve been on an Intrepid-class Federation starship named the U.S.S. Voyager, sadly that is not the case.

It’s a little hard to be writing blog posts when a) you don’t know exactly what to say after having written hundreds of posts before, and b) you’re just REALLY busy.

2016 was a rough year, but 2017 has also had its challenges so far.  You know that I’m always in some sort of work search mode, and that’s already had its ups and downs for the past few months.  I was excited to get my first independent contract. It was an opportunity to finally flex my e-learning muscles, and do it on my terms.  I started to create a curriculum matrix,  to make storyboards, to write transcripts, test questions, and study guides, and created video training–21 completed videos in about a month. But the contract ended before the full project was completed, and I don’t know what will be happening going forward. There was a big learning curve involved, and after the fact, I’ve realized where I made some wrong moves, but I also learned where I made many right moves as well.  I’ve been mastering TechSmith’s Camtasia during this time, and feel pretty comfortable with it now. I sometimes feel I missed out on one of my many callings as a video editor (although you never know–that might change going forward).  I know that I was producing good content, if I say so myself, so I have to be satisfied with that for now.

I also was the co-chair of the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter (STC-PMC)’s annual CONDUIT conference.  Thankfully, that came off with few hitches, and it was well received by everyone I heard from. Some people hadn’t been to the conference in years, and it was a great opportunity for them to see how our conference has grown!  Next year, at this point, it looks like I’ll be the main chair for the event, so it’s going to feel a little overwhelming, I’m sure. Just being co-chair felt overwhelming at times, while trying to work with client deadlines. It stressed me out enough that I even got physically sick for a while. For CONDUIT, the payoff is worth it, and I hope that everyone who is reading this considers coming as a presenter or attendee for next year.

Oh, and I can’t forget that I’ve been studying my DITA by helping someone who is writing a book about it, and I was asked to contribute edits as a beginner who wanted to ensure that they understood the author’s instructions.  That was cool, and helpful.

Kim: Is she kidding us? Overwhelming?
Paris: That’s what she claims. Who am I to argue?

All through this time, as I said, it’s been a bit overwhelming. I realized some missteps with all of it the hard way, as I usually do, but thankfully I have a lot of good people who help me get back up and fight another day. (Photon torpedos are loaded, Captain.)

I spoke to veteran tech comm consultants at CONDUIT and through Single-Sourcing Solutions’ TC Conclave, as well as just talking to other technical communicators when I had the opportunity offline.  All have provided me with advice about how to move forward in the future as an independent consultant, and massaged my ego just enough, knowing how battered and bruised I felt at times.  For that, thanks to all of you. You know who you are.  This is why I get involved with the STC and with other technical communicators.  Five years of networking is finally paying off–you know me, I know you, and I can learn more about things that they don’t teach you in grad school. I benefit from your experiences and I’m grateful.

Kim: I think we should take a ship-wide survey or start a betting pool on what she’ll do next. Who’s in?

So now the question is…what do I do going forward? I’m in limbo once again with timing, figuring out what to do next. At this writing, I’ve decided to lay low for a couple of weeks. I’m concentrating on my VP duties for the STC-PMC for the rest of this program year (two more main events to go right now!), reworking my consultancy’s website (a project temporarily postponed when I started my contract in February), and doing a little bit of project hunting, but nothing too deep just yet.  I have a few leads on things, but I’ve always been hesitant to “count my chickens before they are hatched,” as the saying goes. I’m looking forward to attending the STC Summit in a few weeks in Washington, DC.  I’m getting excited about going, because I realize that it’ll be nonstop tech comm for me almost from the moment I get there! I’ll be with my tribe! I plan to take advantage of seeing all my STC friends–and making new ones as well–in the hopes that my continued networking will help me build my business. I’m looking at things through a slightly different perspective now.

In some ways, I’m still scared to death being “on my own”.  Having survived through my first experience without an agency, though, was exhilarating, and I liked being my own boss and calling most of the shots, and determining how things should be done.  I was able to validate that in many ways, I’m still on the right track, even if things are slow-going right now.

Kim: Captain, there’s something out there!
Janeway: I need a better description than that, Mr. Kim!

I still have a very long way to go, but I’ll find my way eventually. Sometimes I feel like the very green Ensign Kim, who has some knowledge, but still finding my place while trying to make a difference. Sometimes I feel like Captain Janeway, where I feel like I can lead and figure out what needs to be done. There will be Borg, Kazon, Vidiians, and Hirogen to battle along the way, I’m sure. Hopefully my persistence moving forward will get me where I need to go, even if it takes a while.

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Flame Wars need not apply.

I had planned for this post to be something a little more lighthearted, but my plan was changed when I received my first insulting comment on this blog. It came in, and made accusations that proved that the person hadn’t read the blog post carefully, and additionally made insult of my relationship with Adobe. I was shaken up by this comment, because it was meant to be insulting, and in no way was the criticism constructive in any way. I was taken aback by it, and when I told my husband about it, he replied, “This is ‘typical’ internet behavior these days… don’t take it personally.” I knew he was right, and but still…it truly bothers me. It certainly doesn’t seem like professional behavior.

I choose my words carefully on this blog. Every entry is not written off the cuff, and I take a lot of time to write and edit each post. I do my best to be as diplomatic as possible when writing, even if I have a very strong opinion about something. I do my best not to insult anyone or anything. I try to dish constructive criticism when I feel it’s necessary. My intentions are to put forward my own thoughts as a new technical communicator who is trying to make her way into the field, and share ideas that I find interesting or educational. If I curate something from the web from my ScoopIt account, it’s because I found something worthy of sharing with my TechCommGeekMom audience.

This blog started out as a class project in graduate school, and it has taken off to have a life of its own. I don’t claim to be an expert. I don’t claim to be highly experienced. I don’t claim that I am familiar with everything that is related to tech comm. I try to be humble with what I do or don’t know. Yes, I have some knowledge and experience, but if you want to read commentary from someone more experienced who is an “expert” in the field, please, be my guest. You can go elsewhere.

I do write a lot about Adobe on my blog, and I feel that I need to clarify that, because if this one individual is questioning it, perhaps others are as well. My current relationship with Adobe was something that happened to me by surprise. I have always been a fan of Adobe products, even before this association happened. I’ve been using Adobe products for the last 15 or so years. I wrote a case study in grad school supporting Adobe’s business practices with Flash a year ago–well before I ever started this blog. So, when Adobe contacted me several months ago, it was a total shock. It was really out of nowhere for me. All I did was promote my blog and a post on my blog that called out Adobe and its competitors for making it a little difficult for students to get their hands on tech comm software. I never expected anyone to respond. If the MadCap Software, the makers of Flare, had responded the way that Adobe had, I’m sure I would be a Flare advocate right now. Same with the makers of Lectora and Articulate. I’m new, and when I wrote that fateful post, I just knew that these software packages have the same main function, and that I needed to learn this kind of software to get a job. Plain and simple.

Out of the many companies that I named in that blog post, Adobe was the only one that actually responded. As I said, I didn’t expect ANYONE to respond– it was just a fairly well articulated rant, if I do say so myself. Evidently, someone at Adobe thought so too, and wanted to help. Since I already liked their products, how could I not respond favorably to them? When offered the chance to do a webinar for their Thought Leadership series, that shocked me as well. What the heck did I have to offer or to say? I’ve been told that because I’m new to the TC world, it was because I had a fresh perspective of the field, and it was great to get a new opinion in the mix. From there, Adobe has provided me with opportunities such as sitting in on a conference call previewing products, attending a pre-conference event hosted by them at a major tech comm conference, and promoting my blog to a global audience. Did I ask them to do that? No, not at all. Am I going to take advantage of such opportunities? Well, I would be very stupid not to do that, especially since it’s still very early in my tech comm career!

Adobe is an advertiser on my page, but they aren’t paying me a salary. I am not employed by Adobe at all. (Although I wish I was! I’d be a great product evangelist!) I would love to have additional advertisers on this blog, as I totally embrace diversity in products and software if it helps get the job done. If Apple, Google, Microsoft, MadCap, Lectora, Articulate, TechSmith or any other software or hardware vendor wants to establish a business partnership to advertise on my blog, I welcome the opportunity! These are among the best of the best, and there are plenty of others out there as well that I’d be happy to include. Adobe happens to be the first to take advantage of my offer there on the right column.

Adobe is like the Doctor Who in my life. They came in unexpectedly, have taken me places and given me opportunities that I would not have had without them, and so there is a certain amount of loyalty they’ve earned from me. Is that so wrong in that context? I don’t think so. Unless they do something really ugly and downright horrible to me, I have no reason not to support them, especially in light of them supporting me and this very young blog that’s only 7 months old. They have never told me or asked me what to write on this blog. They have supported my independent thinking. This is not an Adobe blog. Perhaps it leans towards a “fan blog” sometimes, but it’s not solely concentrated on this.

TechCommGeekMom addresses technical communications, m-learning, e-learning and educational technology from my perspective as a new technical communications professional who is trying to make her way into this field and make a difference. While TechCommGeekMom is meant to be a place where I can share my thoughts and concerns, others can as well. Differing opinions are welcome if they are done in a fair and constructive manner. This blog is meant to embrace and discuss the best practices in the tech comm and e-learning fields as they move forward. If you don’t like what you read, that’s your prerogative, and you can go elsewhere. But I’m not going to change how I write or who I am for anyone. I hope that my regular readers, as well as newer readers, will appreciate my position, and embrace it by continuing to visit this blog.

As a mom, I’d like to quote Thumper in the movie, Bambi,