I finally have my written contract for the next year with this public sector client. My end date is now March 31st 2020. Although the first version of the contract had a minor date typo, which worked out my contract length as -1 day due to an incorrect year on the end date…
So after 9 months of ‘bedding in’ within this place, along with getting used to living on a dairy farm, it’s nice to see that myself and my skills are wanted for another 12 months. Especially after the previous year’s redunancy and period of unemployment prior to me starting here. Hey ho, time’s a healer as they say. (*)
The contract renewal means that I’ve got another year of:
- Excel spreadsheet tweaking/hacking/coding. This includes even more tutorials on VBA coding to go with the existing 30+ Confluence pages I’ve already created. It’s just a pity that I can’t share any of them outside of the workplace but those are the rules!
- More Confluence-pummelling. This is even better now as we recently upgraded to the latest version. My personal “Technical Author Resources” space is constantly increasing in size due to the extra content I’ve added, and planning to add.
- Microsoft Word – mostly proofreading existing documents, with the occasional bit of documentation creation for walk-throughs and/or how to’s.
- Microsoft PowerPoint – I am not often asked to do much using PowerPoint, but when it does turn up, it’s usually just a case of proofreading the text.
- All other manner of odds and sods that don’t really come under the “technical authoring” umbrella, but are skills that do belong under my “Aye, go on then, I’ll see what I can do” umbrella.
- Even more Spotify-listening 🙂 My ‘Tastes of 2018’ playlist showed me that I’m not just listening to metal and/or classic rock. Along with a smattering of 1980’s classics, there’s also some oddities that Spotify thought I might like and I’ve kept.
There are, of course, a few downsides though. Mostly lack of free time as my weekends usually consist of me trying to squeeze in as much as I can to the 48 hours that I get – once travelling back & forth are accounted for. So, unless I book a holiday, my spare time is very limited.
A lot of hobbies have had to fall by the side because of the spare time. My slide scans website is in dire need of new scans to be done and added, but there’s no time to do any more. Likewise with the impending arrival of the Spectrum Next. Short of relocating it to my B&B digs and leaving it there each weekend …
It’s not all bad news though as there is the possibility to request to be relocated to the soon-to-be-created Manchester office. There’s no guarantee it will be offered though, so it will have to stay as a pipe dream for the moment.
(*) One of these days, I’ll publish the ‘warts and all’ info about what happened to me where I ended up being made redundant. Especially now that another TA has left the same company, for some of the same reasons.
Like myself, he was the only other ‘technical’ technical author. We both specialised in “not just run-of-the-mill TA work”, before it was all dumbed down, and, bit by bit removed from our remit. But, for the time being, the juicier stuff will need to remain offline.
What does a TA actually do?
Whilst I was writing the above lists of what I do, and being a time-served TA, it set me thinking about the current state of what the general expectations of a technical author are in the current marketplace and comparing how different it is to what I actually do in this role.
Purely for due diligence’s sake, I went looking at other contract TA roles over the last few months. If nothing else, it was to make sure I wasn’t making any mistakes by staying with my current client for another year and making myself unavailable for other roles.
The text was originally going to be included underneath as a separate section, but the more I thought about it, the more text I added to it.
Bear with me whilst I cogitate a little bit more … and add even more text. Time permitting, I’ll get something sorted for next week.