Book Update

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed the book, so I thought I’d provide a brief update. (This will also keep my buddy Kate the Coach from issuing me a caring but firm lecture. ūüôā I am thinking, really!)

Competitive research

I have been reading a lot of books that, more or less, overlap or compete with the intended content of this book. The important thing for me to know with these books is where my work overlaps and where it differs.

The good news is, so far as I can tell, there’s no book that¬†exactly overlaps with whatever I decide to call my book. I’m assuming that I plan to turn this blog into a textbook form. I’ll share with tech writing students and young professionals how to handle the realities of the technical writing workplace, sharing the perspective of a practicing professional, hopefully with the friendly style of the guy on the next bar stool. (More on the book content in a few paragraphs.)

My closest competition is from another English major, specifically¬†Dear English Majors¬†From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days: A Guide for English Majors,¬†a book I reviewed last July. However, While the Dear English Major book talks specifically about job hunting, English major to English major, I’m covering the broad waterfront of the working world, from the job hunt to actually doing the job.

Some of the other books I’ve read in the past couple months include:

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz. I had a different idea of what this book was going to be compared to what it was. I picked up the book as part of the self-improvement angle of my work, figuring it would talk about living or working as an independent contractor. Alas, it turned out to be a “Toltec Wisdom” book focused on simple ideas for improving one’s relationships with others (“Don’t take anything personally”) and the world at large. Whether these ideas were particularly “Toltec” or not I’m not in a position to judge; however, the book did not relate to what I’m writing.

Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, Jonathan Fields. I really liked this book because it shows how individual with specific talents and differing work situations managed to create their own businesses by combining their talents with their interests in unique ways. This book might inspire a blog at some point, but again, it didn’t overlap with my intended book in any great fashion.

You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career, Katharine Brooks, Ed.D. This book is targeted to liberal arts majors and, as the title implies, focuses on helping them selecting a career path…or several. That is part of the territory¬†Career Renegade and I cover as well. Brooks includes a little chaos theory as well, helping the observant liberal arts major understand how a butterfly flapping its wings in one place produces a hurricane a thousand miles away. Or, in a career context, how tiny experiences can lead to larger ones and then eventually lead to career paths if we keep an open mind. Interesting, but not a competitor.

Great Jobs for English Majors, Julie DeGalan and Stephen Lambert. This book is a factual, almost academic analysis of job opportunities English majors can pursue. It almost read like the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, providing statistics, references, descriptions of work conditions, and lists of professional organizations that can provide help. Some of the traditional recommendations were included, such as teaching or journalism. I’m trying to recall if the book mentioned technical writing, and it’s not ringing a bell. If I can’t remember what it said, it can’t have been very memorable, can it?

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self,¬†Ellyn Spragins. I picked up this book because it had the same sort of intent that this blog has: hoping to share some wisdom from now with one’s younger self. It turned out to be a collection of letters written by eminent women (Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Queen Noor of Jordan) looking back at some point off struggle in their lives and writing anachronistically to their younger selves. The book didn’t quite relate to what I’m doing here, though the letters and short biographies of their writers were interesting. I did get a blog out of it, at any rate.

I still have other books to read/review, but on the whole I’m comfortable with the notion that what I intend to write will fill a relatively unique niche in the self-help/self-improvement/career hunting market.

Organizing the content

Meanwhile, on the actual writing front, I’m obviously continuing to write here, no doubt adding to whatever the final product will be. I will confess, however, to a bit of subcontracting and cheating on this front. My friend Cal, a buddy I went to UCF with, graciously volunteered to help in some fashion.

Lazy man that I am, I took him up on his offer.

I asked Cal to read the whole blog (I know, I’m a sadist) and pull out only content that would most likely not get taught in the classroom. And since we were in many of the same classrooms, I could ask this with relatively little guidance needed.

However, a day did come up last week where he asked if I had any more inputs on how he wanted the links/entries organized, besides chronologically. I had been sorting through this craziness, and I think I’ve come up with a structure for the book–that’s not as easy as it sounds. As I wrote in this very blog six years ago, there are many different ways you can structure a literary product, from spatially to chronologically. What I settled on with Cal was to have him organize everything into one of (roughly) five categories:

  • Hunting for a job
  • Getting a job
  • Doing the job
  • Departing a job
  • Hunting for the next job

This structure might fall apart on me once Cal goes through everything, but it’s good to get a second pair of eyes on things. I might have way too much content on doing the job and practically nothing on departing a job, for example (that’s my first guess, thinking back on what I wrote). Still, it gives Cal a starting point, and me a better opportunity to add new material and organize my thoughts for the book so you’re not just reading the same stuff that’s already published here for free.

Bear with me, folks! This is still a work in progress.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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