Which actually brings us to the real problem I face this afternoon: I have clients. Clients are the companies which keep Toast afloat. Clients want stuff. Clients ask questions, set deadlines, and need things. Clients are like children with bank accounts and an attitude. Clients are simultaneously my best friends and my worst enemies.
Technically speaking – and as a technical writer I should try to speak technically, albeit more or less inaccurately – I have had clients since the day I quit my full time job. For the most part my clients come from people who worked with me in the past and then scattered to the four winds after leaving our shared employer. Former employers, employees, and coworkers find themselves in a bind with a product to get out the door and either no user guide or a really spectacularly bad user guide. While I'm a bit pricey on the technical writer pay scale, I work fast, independently, and generally leave a client with documentation in fine shape to hand over to a less senior, less experienced writer... for example, the engineers.
Since I quit my job, I can name a double handful of companies for whom I consulted on documentation, training, or simplified English. Ironically, during those years I was a documentation consultant for the largest, most complicated training development project in my career. I've done little quick start brochures and a command line interface guide. I've written help in Robo, Wiki, CHM, and a text file. I developed a database used to direct the development effort of a team of 22 content producers, and I contributed to the documentation on a number of open source projects.
However, when you get right down to it, my resume or LinkedIn profile is a white lie, a bit of true stretching, or total and unmitigated bull shit depending on your perspective. At any given time out here floating around off the coast of Mexico, I have two or three ongoing projects or active clients. String them all end to end, the number of hours I bill out each year probably only amounts to 8 man weeks. Or woman weeks. It's not enough work to keep us in limes and honey roasted peanuts, but it is enough to make the resume look really good.
Because the real reason I work is insurance. Working is a back door to the real world in case something bad happens. If the boat is destroyed, DrC injured, or family reasons force us to make a quick return to the States, I don't have to tell anyone that I've been playing footloose and fancy free for four years. I can truthfully point to these professional experiences and say that I'm still active, I know my stuff, I'm still growing. Hire me. I'll find the em dash... really
Ah ha! Found it. Ctrl-Q then shift-Q and you get an em dash. What idiot thought that was a good idea?