Welcome to my portfolio
Welcome to My Portfolio
I created many of the works here as coursework while pursuing my Master of Professional Writing degree at New England College. Other works are the product of my my professional writing experiences. Still other contributions are from my personal dabbling in the writing arts.
Before you begin reviewing (and hopefully critiquing) my work, let me tell you about my experience in my first master’s degree class. I had a rough start. I was unfamiliar with the school’s online classroom system and had no idea when to log on for the first time. Unfortunately, my ignorance caused me to join the class a couple days late, and I was overwhelmed for the first couple of weeks with trying to catch up, complete the readings, submit my assignments on time, and participate sufficiently in online discussions. “Whew!” is right. I overcame these early struggles and grew to look forward to my nightly ritual of logging on to check for new discussion thread contributions. Spending a little time daily helped me avoid falling behind and having to spend a bulk of time on the discussion activities.
During the course, I developed a couple of other helpful habits that I will perpetuate into other classes and my professional life. One of those habits was that I made point of formulating my own discussion contributions before reading those of my classmates. Avoiding outside influences enabled me to contribute from an authentic perspective. I also made a habit of getting an early start on new assignments, so that I had sufficient time to review and revise, edit, and proofread. The practice of avoiding procrastination was not a revelation to me, but the challenges of adhering to it was, especially with tight deadlines. I did adhere to it and was able to reap the benefits and deliver quality work on time, with less stress than procrastination would have caused.
I began working on my free choice assignment mid-way through the class, and good thing I started that one early because, although I knew why I disagreed with the statement, “Rhetoric is an audience-, reader-, user-centered art,” I struggled to articulate it. My early drafts were futile attempts to convey my perspectives on the fallaciousness of this statement. There was a happy outcome to my battle, and I am proud of my free choice writing assignment. I hope you enjoy reading it and take the time to share your reactions with me.
Prior to this class, I could not have defined rhetoric, but the reading assignments and the discussion contributions of my classmates helped me gain a thorough understanding as well as a solid appreciation for the responsibilities one assumes when donning the role of the professional writer. The assignments further forced me into self-examination and allowed me to develop and refine my perspectives and opinions on rhetorical issues. I was also pleased to learn, through the readings, that I was already doing many things right, doing them in the manner prescribed by the experts of rhetoric. This revelation makes me believe I have an aptitude for this field.
I found the readings on user-centered documents especially valuable because, although I believed I was always putting the needs of the user first, I now know the true extent to which I should strive to address the needs of my audience, listener, viewer, user, or reader. I welcome the challenge of leaping the gap between where my current approach to usability sits and where the true usability goals are. I am currently working as a professional writer in the information technology field and the examples in this section resonated with me, as did the segments on the role of the technical writer. I learned several things from these readings and I have already started putting them into practice.
This course has bolstered my confidence in my career choice. This is no small achievement, because as a forty-three-year old career-changer I have many concerns about my decision, or should I say the timing of my decison. This class allayed many of my concerns, and I unequivocally believe I have the base skills and qualifications to call myself a professional writer even now, in these early stages of practicing under this title. With practice, such as this program will provide (or rather, require) I will continue improving my skills. I am excited about using what I learn to produce quality rhetorical products for my current clients and those I will acquire.
This course has also helped me pinpoint areas where I need the most improvement. I need to work on delivering a focused and succinct message and cropping my work products to more digestible sizes. I also need to hone my editorial style. I found myself uncomfortable editing work for people with whom I did not have a prior working relationship. I am comfortable with the mechanics of editing but not with the relationship management aspect. I am excited about the upcoming class, which will address my development need in this area. I am looking forward to the other classes as well, and I anticipate identifying other skills I need to evolve into the high quality professional writer.
Now that I have shared my academic writing-improvement-pursuits with you, I want to share my professional goals with you. My plan is to complete the master’s program in 2011 while working in the field as a technical writer. At the same time, I will continue to take on other types of professional writing engagements such as creating newsletters, writing content for websites, writing grant applications, and more. I intend to build my practice and be an independent freelance writer by 2012. You can join me on the first few strides of my journey by reading my portfolio and providing feedback. I hope you enjoy reading my submissions as much as I enjoyed producing them.