What do you do?

Short answer: Whatever. 
Slightly longer answer: Anything that's not normal.
Really long answer: Below

When people ask me what I do, I am never sure how to respond. I do whatever jobs I happen across that either:

  1. pay well, or
  2. give me a chance to learn something.

What I like best is doing work that does both 1 and 2.  

Sometimes  I take an option 2 job from which I learn that I absolutely hate the job.  This happens less often than you might think.  It turns out that cleaning rat cages isn't a bad job. Rats are really quite easy to get along with.  And lots of them are smarter than some of the human colleagues I've worked with. That operant conditioning really works.

I do technical translation,

I turn tough, dull, technical topics into clear prose that the typical newspaper readers could understand. You don't need to broadcast this, but the technical translation I do is stuff that nobody reads unless they are paid to.

Often the resources I use — an outline, for example, or journal articles — are provided by technical specialists: engineers, doctors, University profs. I provide a verbal vehicle to deliver that content to an audience which doesn't know the specialists' lingo but has to follow their directions.  

Steam turbine installation, oncology drug interactions, and marketing are just a few of the technical topics I've translated for ordinary folks to use on the job.


My readers have to use my material as well as read it, so I format it for the users' convenience.  Often that information design aspect means doing simple things like putting items in lists or using call-out boxes to explain terms that have a special meaning in the particular context.

Other times, I need to design or redesign a publication so it  is not only easier to use but looks easier to use.  When a subject is hard, you don't want to make it any harder by a confusing layout.

and create print and web content.

I don't always work with material provided by subject matter experts.

Sometimes I am the subject matter expert.

I write for print and the web on education, journalism, small business, entrepreneurship, marketing, rural life, and bestselling vintage novels.

I hold seven registered copyrights to digital products on about teaching nonfiction writing to teens and adults.  For five years, I operated a website I created and ran as a one-woman operation. When I closed You-Can-Teach-Writing in 2013, its traffic positioned it in the top 5 percent of the world's five million websites.

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