Originally published in STC San Diego Chapter newsletter
By Lana Walker
If the STC ever needs help in breaking the stereotypical image of the reserved, stashed-away-in-the-corner technical writer, I’ve found the perfect poster person — long-time member Susan S. It would be hard to meet a more lively, enthusiastic, fun-loving person in general.
Also, if the STC ever needs a mentor for new writers, look no further than Susan. Backed by degrees in English and electronics, in her 22-year career as a writer, Susan has worked in just about every industry imaginable. We’re talking about telecommunications, aerospace, biomedical, semi-conductors, electronics, music, and more. Included is eight years in the signal industry, writing about the track sensor systems that warn when the train is a-comin’.
Working with the terrestrial must have gotten boring (not surprising, as a child she dreamed of going to the moon), because later she created computer-based training to teach people to fly satellites. Yes, fly satellites via a giant console whereby controllers watch positions and continually make tiny, minute adjustments so that the satellites don’t end up in deep space, or in our backyards. Just think of the power such technical writers truly have.
Apparently she’s not afraid to tackle anything and thinks of hardware, software, machines, and gadgets as toys. That’s what got her interested in personnel and accounting. Then one day a carpool buddy suggested that she take an electronics class to quench her insatiable desire to know how the power plant they drove past worked. She took the class and loved it, ending up with her degree in electronics.
However, as much as she enjoyed learning, after working the bench she knew she wasn’t destined to become an engineering genius. What she did discover was her admiration and enthusiasm for the work and could communicate it well (remember the English degree?). Thus, a technical writer was born.
English and electronics are an interesting blend. So are the other blends in her life that keep her busy and give her that special sparkle: sewing and riding motorcycles, reading off-the-beaten-track fiction and the latest in philosophy; patching holes in her walls from errant colorguard rifles and learning HTML.
In a few minutes, I’ll catch Susan before she heads off to Las Vegas to cheer for her daughters in a colorguard team competition. When she returns, she’ll dive back into looking for a new job — in technical writing, of course. She says it’s too fun to leave.
Ah, it’s a wonderful life, isn’t it.
Originally published in the STC San Diego Chapter Signature newsletter, 2002.