I have always enjoyed writing. At the age of eight I started a school newspaper, the Weekly Wiggle, which ran for three years. Later I published poetry and articles, and in 1980 a book about epistemology. But it wasn’t until relatively late in life, after I had become jaded with the mysteries of engineering, that I took up writing as a paying career. Near the end of my stint as editor of The Ecphorizer, I went to work for Apple Computer as a technical writer.

The setting was fortunate. Silicon Valley needs technical writers, people who understand technology and can communicate its arcana in print. The pay is good, and you can work past an age when many engineers burn out. Writers are in demand because engineers insist on turning out products that are more and more complex, while these products are being sold to people who are less and less able to understand them. The writer’s job is to help bridge the gap.

Being a technical writer doesn’t mean you have to cohabit with nerds. A good writing group tends to be more like a college English department. Here’s an illustration. One day at Apple, the facilities people were moving a group of potted plants across the building. From inside the cubicles, all you could see was a mass of greenery slowly proceeding down the corridor. Immediately and simultaneously, three writers quoted the fateful messenger’s line from Macbeth: “Methought the wood began to move.” That’s a sign of a good place to work.

The following pieces are associated, more or less, with my experiences as an editor and as a technical writer. The last piece, “An Editor’s Grab Bag,” contains fragments left over from everything else, which I wrote as fillers for The Ecphorizer.