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A writer’s inspiration: Doug Fulton – Bit Stampede
Jan 262012

As I came to the realization, which I mentioned in my previous post, that I was fed up with game development for a living, I had been playing with BeOS for a while, so I decided I’d like to work for Be. I went to their job listing page and looked through the list of openings. The only one that didn’t require a college degree (which I didn’t have) was one for a technical writer.

So I applied. A few weeks later, they let me know I didn’t get the job.

I got myself fired by the game company (due to my unwillingness to cooperate with a particularly bad business decision), and wound up at another one. About three weeks after starting that job, Be called back and asked me to come up for an interview. So I went up to the Bay Area and met with Doug Fulton and one or two other people up there (I don’t remember who all else, since there were several, and it’s been a long time). We chatted for a while, I felt I made a terrible impression, and I went home.

A few weeks after that, Be let me know that while they didn’t think I was qualified for the technical writer job, they’d bring me on as a junior writer if I was willing to do that. I jumped all over that, and my career as a technical writer began.

I started at Be in September of 1997, working out of the office in Menlo Park. I was the junior of three technical writers. One of them (whose name I agonizingly fail to remember) left not too long after I started, but Doug I remember. Doug had worked as a writer at NeXT, and would tell stories about how great his desk was being near the rear exit of the building so he could escape when Steve Jobs came in.

I had zero experience as a technical writer, so working with Doug, a long-time writer, was a great experience for me. He didn’t teach, per se, but offered a lot of guidance, and I watched how he did things closely as I got into the swing of things. If that experience hadn’t been such a good one, it’s entirely possible I might have fled technical writing back to programming, which probably would have been a mistake.

I’m a decent programmer — even a very good one, within certain bounds. But I like to think I’m a very good technical writer. Doug (and by extension, Be) gave me the opportunity to figure that out and spread my wings. By the end of my first year at Be, I was a senior technical writer and had had my pay bumped three times to match that title.

I’d found my calling at last. So thanks for the job, Doug.

 Posted by at 11:30 AM