Living Out Loud

On Writing


I was an early and voracious reader. At home, my parents weren't pedantic about language. They just used correct grammar and pronunciations and my siblings and I did the same. Although I'm a lifelong resident of the south, other Southerners will frequently ask me where I am from because my accent doesn't match theirs. It's not that I don't have an accent, people from other places can tell I'm a Southerner, it's just not real thick.

Reading a lot helps build your vocabulary and that was always helpful in school. Having a good vocabulary can make you look smarter than you actually are, a fact I played to my advantage. My formal education ended when I graduated from high school in 1983. Every job I've ever had though has been made better by my ability to write clearly. Even while I was in the Army and working in the prison system, my supervisors found reasons to sit me behind a typewriter to write reports and sum up investigations. I entered my chosen career field in IT by first becoming a technical writer for Westinghouse and then a technical editor for Global Knowledge Network an IT training company. I've continued to generate technical documents and work instructions throughout my career.

I've written poetry since I was in my teens and journaled off and on since then too. In the days before social media, my family email chain was full of essays we all wrote about our kids, our jobs and each other. One brother and my sister have also been technical writers. I had a GeoCities blog during the 90s and wrote frequently for that while doing other 90s things like building web rings and writing product reviews at 

During the headiest days of my life in activism, I frequently wrote op-eds for McClatchy, a media conglomerate. I had a unique voice as an antiwar vet and the father of a military resister and I took full advantage of it. 

As to the "why" question, it's simple I suppose. I write because it's been the most effective way to communicate with the largest numbers of people. I don't claim to be a "good writer", whatever that means. I just know that I can get my point across more often than not and that's what matters. I enjoy being able to share information on whatever I'm interested in, usually tech stuff these days, although I don't mind doing a little cathartic release and belly-button gazing on occasion.