Thursday, March 22, 2007


It's time for one of my periodic apologies for not posting as often as I'd like. My excuse is always the same--deadlines--but I think I'll have some free time soon for blogging and many other fun things.

Here's a glimpse at my day job, which I don't write about very often. The project occupying most of my time right now is a 1200-page tome called the Underground Transmission Systems Reference Book. It's got about 40 authors from five or six countries, and if you're a utility anywhere in the world planning to bury a high-voltage electric cable, this is the book for you. Trust me, you cannot imagine the science and engineering know-how that goes into laying a wire in a trench. A friend of mine has been editing the book for about a year now and it's almost ready for publication; however, he had to go to Italy for a couple of weeks and asked me to step in and finish the job for him. Athough he got 98% of it done before he left, taking over a logistically challenging project involving several authors, three teams of graphic designers, and a highly technical topic I know little about when it's hurtling full speed toward a we-really-mean-it deadline has its challenges.

It also has its rewards. In addition to money--which I'm really earning this time--I get the pleasure of being suddenly, unexpectedly, harrowingly immersed in an unfamiliar subject and quickly learning enough about it to both discuss it with experts and explain it to laymen. I got the same satisfaction as a newspaper reporter a long time ago and a freelance writer more recently. It's what I find most interesting and fun about my writing career. Unfortunately, the knowledge I gain only seems to stick around long enough for me to complete the job. Ask me about underground transmission systems in a month and I'll give you a blank stare. I may not even recall doing the job (that's nearly true; I've had the unnerving experience of looking at published magazine articles I've written and having absolutely no memory of them). But right now... I am Mister Underground Cable.

It's more exciting than it sounds.


Sherwood Harrington said...

So there's more to it than calling 1-800-227-2600 before you dig, eh?

Seriously, your career sounds like a great way to stay sharp! My dad was fond of saying that in terms of career satisfaction there's a big difference between having 50 years of experience and having the same year of experience 50 times over. It would appear that you've chosen the former path.

ronnie said...

"if you're a utility anywhere in the world planning to bury a high-voltage electric cable, this is the book for you."

Ooh! Ooh! It's me!

Oh, wait, no - I only wanted to buy a USB cable.

[Emily Litella]
Never mind!
[/Emily Litella]

Anonymous said...

Wow... now I see why you were Mom's favorite!!!
Nurse Sis

Mike said...

This reminded me of a Non Sequitur cartoon which is one of my favorites. Then I remembered that I had used it for a blog some time ago. I went back to look and, by golly, Brian Fies had commented. Great minds. I can't remember if blogspot allows URLs in comments, but here's a try ...

To tell the truth, however, I've tried the kind of in-depth, written for the real experts kind of chameleon writing that you're talking about here and it's very different. Your audience does indeed know when you haven't done the assigned reading. (I hate when that happens.)

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