July 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.”

—Nolan Bushnell

Word Pair of the Month: precede, proceed

This month’s words are easy to mix up because they sound somewhat alike, have similar spellings, and deal with placement or movement in time. But the similarities end there, and you would do well to remember the difference. Precede means “to go or come before,” as in the sentence “Our discussion of old business always precedes that of new business in our meetings.” Proceed, on the other hand, means “to move forward,” as in the sentence “If everyone is here, we can proceed with the meeting.”

July Writer’s Forum Question

It’s been said that the average worker will change careers eight times in a lifetime. That’s a sobering thought. Share with us your stories of changing careers. Was it a huge change? What motivated the shift, and how did you handle it?

Sometimes deciding to make a change is simply a realization that your heart lies elsewhere, as in the case of Tam Kelly of Houston:

It wasn’t a big deal, really. I had been working as a computer programmer, and one day I just realized that I missed working with people. I went back to school for my MBA, and now I’m managing a large retail store, dealing with people every day. I love it.

Other times the change is a necessity, as with Dr. Gilbert Preston of California:

I was going to be an archaeologist, figuring I’d be like Indiana Jones, traveling around and digging in the ground for clues to the past. Unfortunately, I was pretty stupid in college (weren’t we all?) and took stupid risks. I had an accident that totally destroyed my hand, making it difficult to impossible to do the physical side of archaeology. So I got my teaching degree and became a history teacher. I taught high school for a while but decided I wanted more, so I worked for my PhD, and now I teach at a university. Oh, and I do get to go along on some digs during the summers, and although I can’t participate on the level I’d like, at least I can pass on my love of history and geography to my students.

Another problem is that jobs simply disappear nowadays. Verne Hanicek of Detroit writes this:

I was a travel agent for 16 years, but our company downsized in 2009 from fourteen employees to just two. Needless to say, I was out of a job, and out of a career that has been replaced by computer travel sites. What did I do? I still liked travel, so I became a flight attendant, but I have the sinking feeling our days are numbered as well. I’ve been thinking about training to be a health aide—it seems that’s one job that won’t be eliminated!

Probably our winning forum response this month comes from Elizabeth Jensen of New York:

Changing jobs? You bet. I have lived by the philosophy that when I get bored, I move on, but not before learning everything I can. My journey began as a waitress, where I learned a lot about people and about keeping my ears open. From there, I heard about a job as an assistant dresser backstage at a theater, which I got. While in the theater, I followed the stage lighting people around as much as possible and talked to them, asking questions and learning about what they were doing. I eventually got an apprenticeship and later joined the electrician’s union, but I didn’t like the instability of the theater, so I left to join an electrical firm. There I did basic house and apartment work, but the company included a lighting showroom, and I spent some time there learning about decorating, using my background in stage lighting to create designs. Working in our showroom, I discovered I had a flair for decorating, so I went to school at night to earn my license as a decorator. My boss was delighted, and even paid my tuition, and when I got my license, he set me up as the firm’s lighting consultant. From there, I found myself in demand with other decorators and eventually opened my own consulting business. Not bad for starting out waiting tables. The trick is to be willing to listen and learn, and to make the effort to get the proper training.

And, of course, some people don’t change jobs. One example is Gia Spinoza of Newark:

Change jobs? Why? All my life I wanted to be a teacher. I have the best possible job—I work with young people (middle school) who are still excited about life. I get to be part of molding their thoughts and shaping their futures. The important thing is to keep your job fresh year after year. Teaching allows me to change my plans from year to year, to try new things while building on what works. The highs and lows are tremendous, but the highs win hands down. I have been teaching in the same school for 22 years, and I still hear back from some of the kids I taught, telling me I made a difference in their lives. How can you do better than that?

A Final Thought

We love it when our alert readers pose interesting questions for us. Today’s comes from Karen Fountain of Carlsbad, California, who asks about the difference between the phrases print book and printed book. She says, “I believe print is a noun and printed is an adjective, but I don’t know when I should use the noun versus the adjective—examples of when to use each word would help to clarify this for me.” Well, Karen, this was a bit of a stumper, and an example of how English is constantly morphing into something new. Our research suggests that perhaps the only adjectival use of print—or at least the most common—is a description of the whole spectrum of printed materials—print media—or a reference to those who write for printed publications—print journalists. As a noun, the word is used in the idiom in print to refer to a book that is still procurable from the publisher. The word printed is the more correct adjective form when referring to a book—a printed book (as opposed to an e-book) or the printed word. Thanks, Karen—hope that helps!

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