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The following excerpt from the introductory post on this blog tells how I got the idea for my “writing repair” service.
In 1976 I began working as a secretary for a large Japanese trading firm. Quickly, and quite unintentionally, I became more than just a secretary.
All of the department managers were from the Tokyo home office, assigned to work in the U.S. for several years before moving on to other locations. There were sales people from Japan and other countries, including China, Korea, and the Philippines. A few of the support people originally came from Latin America or Asia. Most were American born and educated. In short, I was in the midst of a mini-United Nations.
While the bulk of the communication between our office and Japan was conducted in Japanese, correspondence with our customers and local suppliers was in English. The foreign employees had varying degrees of English proficiency, but most were rather fluent and it was easy for them to read and speak the language. Writing it was a different story. They could get something down on paper, but not something that was ready for customers or suppliers to see. This came as no surprise.
What did surprise me was that many of the American employees had serious writing deficiencies as well.
Word quickly got around the office that I was a good writer, easy to work with, and willing to help. My co-workers started coming to me whenever they had to write something important. Manage- ment saw this collaboration as a good thing, and encouraged us. Because of my help:
- distracting grammatical errors were eliminated, allowing the reader to focus on the intended message;
- employees were no longer sending out poorly written letters that challenged the reader to figure out what was being said;
- the company image was no longer undermined by correspondence that was in direct conflict with our promise to provide the highest quality products and services;
- poor expression of ideas, capable of causing damaging misunderstandings, was identified and corrected before it could cause conflicts – or worse, lawsuits;
- writing took fewer hours out of the workday, because it was no longer a struggle;
- employees became more confident about their ability to do a good job, because they were supported in their efforts to communicate their best ideas to full advantage.
People started calling me “The Living Dictionary” and “English- to-English Translator.”
I was promoted several times and eventually became a project manager for sales of special-engineered machinery for waterworks projects. All the while, I was moonlighting, in plain sight, as a “writing fixer-upper.” Virtually every reference letter and evaluation I received in my career cited my writing ability as a significant factor in the smooth completion of our projects, and my willingness to assist others as an important contribution to the company’s overall success.
In 2005, I went into business for myself, offering writing repair services to companies whose employees need support for writing tasks.
If you would like information about obtaining my services for your company, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to use the phrase “Writing Repair” in the subject line.