Friday, June 14, 2013

The Darker Side of My Writing

Horror is something that I feed off of, drink off of, and ultimately live off of. It's the reason that I put the pen to the paper or my fingers to the keyboard. The ability to paint a picture in someone's head and cause them to lie awake at night is something that I strive for. All this being said, horror is not what I solely get paid to write. My day job as you know is at a government contracting firm doing proposal and other technical writing. This for some is scarier than any horror novel; for me it's why I sit at this computer every morning at work.

Technical writing is a whole other animal where flowery words, long sentences, and over use of adjectives is discouraged. The main purpose of it (in my line of work) is to inform, persuade, and prove that you know what you're talking about. This becomes difficult at times when you really have no clue what you're talking about say on the subject of Network Infrastructure Support.

Have I lost you in a cloud of boredom yet? No? Well good because even though it may sound dull to you I thoroughly enjoy it. Let me walk you through a typical proposal that I help write (some information is taken out since I'm bound by NDAs and my Security Clearance). First the government puts out a solicitation for contractors to submit proposals to win the work. These solicitations usually consist of a Statement of Work (SOW), Solicitation Instructions, Past Performance Questionnaires, and various other attached forms to fill out. It is then my job to read through all those documents, figure out what the government wants, and then start working on the response.

Most of the time I'm not the only one writing. In fact it is very seldom that I am the only one writing. We have a bank of seasoned proposal writers, subject matter experts, and pricing experts to help us write the best proposal to win the work. Lately I've been in the land of the staffing portion of the proposal. It is then my job to not only find the candidates that would best fit the contract but to write eloquent summaries of their qualifications. This is a lot harder than it sounds and I am often spending days pouring over resumes and picking out pieces that go the best with the particular contract. There are even times when I've used my own resume for a proposal since I had the qualifications and security clearance (which is the biggest hurdle when recruiting for these classified positions). That actually was the hardest write-up that I've had to write. It's easier to look at another person's resume and talk them up than it is to talk up myself.

The other parts that I work a lot on are the past performance pieces and the technical parts of the proposal. This is to ensure the government that we have the past experience and capability to do the contract in question. This involves a lot of sifting through past contract documents, talking to employees and subject matter experts who do this work for a living, and a lot of editing of write ups from other people. That leads me to the next part I play in the proposal developement: editor. Though at times it might seem that I let little grammatical mistakes slip through on my blog, when I edit other people's work it is much easier to catch their spelling and grammatical problems. In my company I am known for getting the wording right and making purely technical pieces "sound more eloquent" as my boss puts it. I even have friends at other firms/government agencies who send their technical write-ups for me to fix for them.

Of course since I work for a small company the proposal stuff isn't all I do but it is mainly what I focus on now. I also help with the day to day administration like managing office supplies, sending out checks, producing paperwork for clients/employees, etc. It helps me that I wear so many different "hats" at my job so that I am never bored. There is always something going on in one facet or another.


Magaly Guerrero said...

Technical writing and creative writing are very different, indeed. I remember the first time one of my students read a short story by me, and told me about it. He said, "You don't sound like the dame person, Ms. G." And I told him that it was one of the best compliments I had received in a while.

Blogger said...

Just received my check for $500.

Many times people don't believe me when I tell them about how much you can make filling out paid surveys online...

So I show them a video of myself getting paid $500 for participating in paid surveys to set the record straight once and for all.

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