I hate “about me” pages on websites, which is why there hasn’t been one up to this point. I’ve got so many irons in the fire, I decided I’d better write one so I have a single place to send people to when they ask “what do you do?”
I try and divide my day between my interests, but it does depend on what I’m focusing (okay, obsessing) on currently and whether or not the project has an end-point that’s easier to get to than to pick back up again.
Do you think you can stand this? Here goes….
What’s with the JulieW8?
When we were teenagers, my brother started using W8 for Weight, which is the family name. I started using it. When I went online in the late 80s, I used it as my handle. I’ve used it for just about everything. When people tell me they looked online for me and couldn’t find me, I find this difficult to believe. I’ve been all over the internet for 20 years now, using the same handle. I’m not hard to find.
I spent many years as a secretary/administrative assistant. I typed. I corrected mistakes. I helped people write letters and Get Things Done. I kept things organized and people on schedule. Since this was the late 70s, I also sharpened pencils and made and fetched coffee.
I was an early-onset geek. The first word processor I worked on had a console connected to a modified IBM Selectric II typewriter. The data was stored on two cassette tapes. I was so good at it, other companies that had this machine were trying to poach me from my job. The company wanted to hire me, but the representative turned pale when he found out I had just turned 19. Just as well I never heard from them again – it would’ve been a short-lived career with a short-lived company. I then worked as the on-site secretary for a construction company, one of my favorite jobs ever, then I moved to California to take a job in the construction department of a multihospital health system. I became the company word processing specialist, first on a standalone system that was cutting edge for its day, then on a word processing program that ran on a dumb terminal connected to the mainframe computer. Stop trying to guess how old I am. I was also the company guinea pig for learning WordStar, one of the more popular computer word processing programs of the time. After the birth of my first child, I took a job working for a company that used yet another standalone word processor that was very popular in the area at that time. I hated the job and the company culture and only lasted a year, but I learned the inside and outside of that word processor and had another job skill. These multiple skills in word processing served me well when I quit full-time employment and signed up with a temporary agency. For the most part, I enjoyed temporary work. It was different, I could say no and I got to meet new people. It was also my introduction to the strange things people do with documents on a computer and with words. Fortunately, most temporary jobs aren’t demanding and I spent a lot of time fixing the problems other people created because they used the word processing software the way they used a typewriter.
In addition to taking temporary jobs, I went back to doing what I’d done to earn extra money when I was single; I started letting people know that I was available to do typing jobs on the side. One of the most difficult things I ever did was buy that standalone word processor. It cost $7,000. I about died. My husband about fainted. However, a lot of the people I’d done temporary work for used it and had asked me if I would take work as an outside contractor. I made the money back in the first two weeks. The second most difficult thing I did was buy my first PC. At that time, you bought the PC, turned it on – and go the C:> prompt. Huh? I had no idea what to do with that! I’d just spent $2,000 on a computer and was astounded that I’d have to go buy software, as well! Stop trying to guess how old I am. WordPerfect, hello! Probably hands down the best word processing program for the PC ever. Until Windows, that is. I have never liked the Windows version, but WordPerfect 5.1 rocked and rolled.
My typing business was doing a lot of transcription for attorneys and insurance professionals and they all did a lot of workers’ compensation. I got tired of looking up the medical words and noticed that workers’ compensation and medical constituted the majority of the dictation. I signed up for medical terminology classes at the local vo-tech (the only classes available at that time). And I got pregnant with my third (and last) child. After I completed the course, I took a job at a very small local hospital that used yet another dedicated word processor (Sony, I believe). I was making half what I would’ve made doing temp work and was told I was hired because none of the applicants had experience as medical transcriptionists and my English and typing skills were better than the others. It would be a long, long time before I felt competent at my job again. I’d done transcription for other professionals for years. I had no trouble with the medical language and spelling. What I didn’t anticipate was how truly awful the majority of doctors are at dictating. I haven’t encountered anything like it before or since. As a group, doctors are the worst dictators. I could go on with my speculations about the reasons for that, but I’ll hold my tongue just this once.
For the next 20+ years, I worked as a medical transcriptionist, worked as a manager for a medical transcription business and ran my own medical transcription business. And then, I burned out. And my business burned out. I felt like I’d had a splinter in my side for 20 years and finally got it removed, the infection cleared and the wound healed. In other words, I felt great.
Websites and domain names
I had purchased a couple domain names in the medical transcription space over the years. About the same time I was burning out of the industry, I was contacted by Elsevier about two transcription websites they had purchased 5 years before, MT Desk and MT Chat. MT Desk was a reference site for medical transcriptionists and MT Chat was a discussion forum. Both had been extremely popular prior to Elsevier acquiring them. However, Elsevier did nothing with them. Other than branding the website to Elsevier, they made no other changes and never updated the material. They left the discussion forum in the hands of the administrator, without oversight. Predictably, traffic tapered off and advertising revenue along with it. They were looking to unload them both and wanted to know if I wanted to acquire them. I gave it some thought, because I always said I’d never admin a discussion forum. On the other hand, MT Desk would be a perfect place to put a style guide and reference wiki website I’d been working on; it had the advantage of being well known in the industry, with a high Page rank and numerous backlinks. I considered the alternatives – the other candidates they would talk to if I didn’t say yes. I said yes. I moved the wiki to MT Desk and kept working on it. Last year, I closed the MT Chat forums and turned on the forum feature at MT Desk, so the two sites are now one site.
I now have multiple domain names and websites and I continue to do that, but I got in too late to get the kind of domain names that earn big money. I had to think of some other way of earning money that didn’t involve putting on shoes, driving to an office and having to tolerate co-workers all day.
If I could get paid to…
…read books and learn new software, that would be my idea of an ideal career. (I’d also like to someday actually finish writing one of the dozen or so novels I’ve started.) I realized that I had the ideal skill set for at least getting paid to read. I’ve spent years spotting and correcting errors in grammar and syntax and nitpicking punctuation. Errors just seem to jump out at me – it’s just a gift. I’ve spent years studying style guides and references. I love to read. I have to say something. It’s another gift. I decided freelance editing was a good option to pursue, especially with the boom in indie and self publishing electronic books. As much as many of the books I read for review need it, I feel it’s a conflict of interest to review a book and then edit it, but if you want me to take a look at your book and I haven’t reviewed it, please feel free to contact me to discuss.
In addition to the Twitter and Facebook links here on the blog, I can be found in the following social networks:
Goodreads: This is a social network for readers and writers. I spend far too much time there.
LinkedIn: This is a networking site for business. I’ve found it’s difficult to keep the profile updated when I am no longer in the industry I was in when I made most the contacts but I still run websites in that industry.
Pinterest: I also spend too much time on this particular social network.
I own and manage multiple websites besides this one and I own multiple domain names that are parked. The following is a partial list.
- JulieW8.com is my personal blog.
- MT Exchange is my medical transcription industry blog.
- Transcription Registry is a directory of transcription services of all types.
- The Directory of Lawyers is, as you might guess, a directory of lawyers, launched in 2011.
- Expert Witness Center is a directory for expert witness services, also launched in 2011.
- Author Resource is a directory of resources for authors. It is live and in the process of being populated. Standard listings are free so check it out and see if there’s a category for you.