I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) where I majored in written communications, concentration in technical writing, and minored in graphic communications. I learned much more than I expected to over the last few years. See the sections below for details.
I enjoyed my professional writing and designing experiences after leaving court reporting in 2006. My goal on returning to school in 2013 was to learn how to use more of the tools and techniques available to improve my efficiency and effectiveness in creating communications.
When I started this journey, I wanted practical skills like using professional software and learning various writing formats. I had done the work in my jobs; I just wanted to get experience with some types of writing and software platforms required by employers hiring technical writers. Boy, was I naive!
I've realized that I have an "entrepreneurial mentality" urging me to "go ahead and try it; you'll figure it out as you go!" That method worked in my professional career in the years since retiring from court reporting. I believe that "go-for-it-or-bust" attitude is a very important part of a good work ethic I'd never want to lose.Go to Top
Reflections on my Second College Experience
I realized not long ago that when I completed my Bachelor's Degree in December of 2016, it will have been exactly 30 years since completing my last college degree. That didn't make me feel old. (I was a baby when I did it the first time.) It made me feel excited! My kids were done with their college educations and now it was my turn again.
My goal on returning to school in 2013 was to learn how to use more of the tools and techniques available to improve my efficiency and effectiveness in creating communications.
Upon starting my degree, I sought practical skills like using professional software and learning various writing formats. I believed I had done the same work; I just wanted to get the degree.
Ignorance is bliss; I really didn't know what I didn't know about professional communication before my degree. Now I'm as intelligent as Einstein, who said, "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know."
In addition to the practical skills I was looking for, my written communications curriculum taught me that I didn't have the skills and knowledge of a professional technical writer even if I had been working as one for a while. You could say I have been made intelligent when it comes to tech comm; I now have the capacity to perceive the essential — I have been educated.
I learned in EMU's Written Communication and Graphic Communication programs that technical writers and graphic designers are much more than information regurgitators or artists. I gained the expertise of a professional communicator to interactively study a subject, learn all its nuances, and to relay the message to the intended audience in written and/or graphic form in the way they will understand it best.
I learned that communicators define and illustrate life for their readers. Technical Writers are Meaning-Makers, incorporating the skills of inventors, analysts, interpreters, listeners, dissectors, translators, collaborators, inspirers, problem-solvers, and information designers. The graphic designer uses the appropriate tools and mediums to add meaningful graphic communications to the written.
I have also studied thought or idea technology, "where humans use their intelligence to create things and processes." Based on that dictionary definition, Psychologist Barry Schwartz has extended the theory that "ideas are the products of technology because we use our intelligence to create ideas." He calls this the "Idea Technology of Human Nature," the technology of ideas, and explains that this is the process we use to understand the world and our place in it.
At one point during the last three years, I told one of my professors that I was supposed to be getting a writing education, not a philosophy education. I had no idea I would learn a whole new way of looking at the world while earning my degree. I now find it hard to decide which was the most valuable learning.
What is a Technical Writer?Go to Top
A Technical Writer is a Meaning-Maker
The skills of a TC give him the power to shape the future of a given situation. His biggest challenge is conveying this to the stakeholder in a situation in order to do his job to his best ability. Many people think a technical writer is someone who lists steps in a procedure to write instructions or directions. They think it’s a job anyone could do without special training or expertise. Sometimes they think of technical writers as the “keeper of the official documents,” as a glorified filing clerk. However, today’s technical communicators perform a much deeper service.
A Technical Writer is an Interactive Inventor
A good technical writer (TW), one trained in today’s methods—what I’ll call Tech Comm 2.0—has the ability to theorize effectively within many different rhetorical situations. The TW expert has theoretical knowledge, and they practice theorizing using an interactive process of inquiry and analysis that demonstrates awareness of and responsiveness to their audience and their stakeholders. The most effective TW knows the manner of communication will be different for different audiences they are addressing.
A Technical Writer is a Collaborative Investigator
The technical writer’s investigation and evaluation of the issues allows them to look at the problem at hand from all angles, delving deeply into the subject matter so they can discover the core issues. These fundamental issues are oftentimes hidden layers deep in technocracy and “geek speak.” Effective tech writers consider culture and context, knowing they each exert influence on the other as well as on new contexts discerned by the TW in the analysis.
One of the ways the TW analyzes problems is by considering the rhetorical situation in relation to their own discourse communities in other contexts. Being able to draw comparisons and contrasts across genres, situations, and circumstances, helps a TW communicate with their intended audience in the most effective way for that group. The TW also studies the group or audience their document is intended to target to learn their desires, demographic, and needs, researching until he feels he understands the audience inside and out.
A Technical Writer is a Super-Communicator
Once all this work is complete, then the TW will meld together the knowledge gained from the myriad sources to invent content for a document that meets the needs of the audience in the most accurate, effective way possible. Conveying the necessity for all of this is the challenge of the technical writer.
General Information About MarianneGo to Top
- I was certified as a California, Michigan, and national shorthand reporter and worked for 20 years as an independent court reporter, mostly taking depositions and hearings but also some work in courts.
- During school (2013-2016) I worked as a part-time proofreader for court reporters, reading court transcripts and deposition transcripts, and have also done some transcribing.
- I love learning new things and am interested in more than I have the time to learn. In addition to writing and graphic communications, I find the following things interesting: interior design, photography, creative writing, gardening, and many different kinds of crafting/creating, especially any kind of upcycling or repurposing of old things into new.
- I studied Social Media during spring of 2015 and learned more than I could have imagined. Following that summer full of continued self-study, I broadened my target career goals to include social media management, content creation, and website and information design in addition to technical writing. I remain active in the social profiles I set up and this blog I started during the course. My Twitter handle is @marmccr8 and I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- I did a little writing for the Eastern Echo, EMU's student newspaper, the Opinions column; You can read my articles on my author page on the newspaper website.
- The greatest achievement of my life is successfully raising three incredible young adults. They are all loving, considerate, and independent contributors to society, and what's really great is that I like them all. They are proof that you can do everything wrong as a parent and still end up with incredible kids you love to hang out with.
- I am a member of the Sault Saint Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
- My paternal grandparents both emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s; my dad grew up in the Little Italy area of Los Angeles, very close to where Dodger Stadium is today.
- I grew up in Rialto, California, which is at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains where Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake are located, and about halfway between Palm Springs and Los Angeles. It is bordered by I-15, which leads you to Las Vegas going north or San Diego going south, and Interstate 10, which stretches from Santa Monica Beach on the west coast of Southern California all the way to the east coast in Florida.
- Some of Rialto's claims to fame include it being home to the Wigwam Motel along Route 66; it's the hometown to NFL great Ronnie Lott and MLB player Jeff Conine (both from my generation but retired). It's final home to other notorious/famous persons including Rodney King (whose videotaped beating by police in 1991 led to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots) and top stunt pilot Art Scholl (who was killed in a flying accident while filming the movie Top Gun with Tom Cruise).
(Me and my gang with my Christmas tree, 2016)
Back: John and Marianne, Thomas and Alyssa
Front: Aleks and Katherine, Bobby and Michelle