An Article on Articles

Palmer Pearson
Cadence Design Systems

Until recently, I was very content to leave article writing to others who obviously did not work as hard as I. Sitting back in their ergo-dynamically designed loungers, thinking great thoughts and spewing forth a few words of wisdom to an audience almost too busy to read them. Ah…to be that lucky.

But the desire to communicate beyond the walls of my company—and to see my name in lights (or at least the web)—got me to volunteer to write for CIDM (OK, so maybe JoAnn Hackos volunteered me). And somehow, as deadlines approached I found the time to put a few ideas down on paper (or is it on LCD?) and even organize them. After completing the first article, I thought, “Well, that wasn’t too bad.” It took maybe 30 minutes stretched over a two week period. I know I am a model of efficiency! I still have a few days left to do my taxes, as well.

With each article I found it easier to find the time. Was it because I wrote shorter articles? Did I use smaller words? Whatever it was, I was writing at a pace that was only limited by my inept typing skills. I still had the usual interruptions—my kids still called me on the telephone, my peers still needed the report-presentation-critique-feedback done yesterday. And my requested meeting attendance actually increased in the past six months. How can this be? I didn’t get it.

I had always equated article writing to writing compositions back in high school—or the essay requirement of the newly-revised college SATs. You are given a topic. “Please write a composition on why you believe the Huns managed to defeat the Visgoths in 376, and what would have happened to world history if they did not? You have two minutes. Begin.”

What? Let me see… Wait. I know this one! Maybe the Huns-to-Visgoths ratio was too high? If the battle turned out differently maybe we would all be speaking Visgothese? No, wait, that can’t be right—we’re not all speaking Hunese now.

In any case, I don’t know the first thing about Visgoths, but writing what I do know always comes easily to me. My opinions flow out my fingertips, whereas when writing about the topics only others feel passionate about, blah words ooze too slowly onto my keyboard. At least that is the way it works for me. And it might for you too. Just write what you know. Be direct. Believe in your topic. And always remember to get around to your main point.

And what is my point? Well, I think it would be good if every member of CIDM wrote an article here. There really is time to do it if you’re interested in your subject. I know CIDM would be thankful, as well.

How was that one, JoAnn?