- by Dara Girard
My IT background spans nearly twenty years in systems administration, security, and help desk management. A decade ago I started Guidry Consulting Inc, offering PC and Mac tech support to businesses and home users. Since then I have expanded into computer classes, web site design, and online marketing including blogs and social networking. I try to establish a rapport with all of my customers, much as you would with a trusted doctor. There’s no such thing as a stupid computer question, only an answer you haven’t discovered yet.
What came first for you, writing or computers? What inspired you to bring them together?
For me, they have always been linked. My first primitive stories were written on my first equally primitive computer. Even while I focused my career on IT, I always found time for writing. Today I enjoy switching between the two, banging away on a technical problem one moment and savoring a writing project the next. It keeps me fresh and focused.
What do you wish writers understood about computers? What do wish computers understood about writing?
I wish writers could feel more confident, so that the computer becomes a transparent tool. But there aren’t many resources available to help people solve their own computer problems, which is why I started my Tech Tips blog (www.guidryconsulting.com/techtips). I’m an interpreter between the technical and everyday worlds, teaching the skills you need to achieve your goals.
As for writing, I wish the computer could dive into my head and pull out those perfect sentences when they elude me
How have you built your platform as a writer?
I’ve found my consulting and my writing dovetail nicely. My technical abilities have opened writing opportunities, and my writing hones my computer skills. My experience as an entrepreneur also helps, because marketing a small business is similar to marketing oneself as a writer. I use the Internet to great effect but I also take advantage of in-person networking.
The Writer magazine ran your article “When you yearn to smash your computer” (December 2009)—advice for 10 common technical problems. What would number 11 be?
Go ahead and smash the darn thing anyway? No, it would be to retry the first suggestion and reboot your computer. It’s also important to keep several backups of your data. Test your backups by restoring files to a temporary location. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found backups faithfully created but empty or corrupt.
You have a wide variety of professional and personal commitments. Do you have any tips on organizing your time?
Multitasking helps, but I also try to work with multiple purposes in mind. Solving a technical problem may inspire me to write an article, and the research for that article could become the basis for a computer class. I have reams of research on file, and I keep track of my projects through databases. Because I enjoy what I do, it rarely feels like “work” and when it does, I switch gears to get re-inspired.
How about ensuring a balance between the work that you do, and the promotion or marketing of that work?
It’s important to stay on top of marketing. When I began freelancing I landed a lucrative client and made the mistake of failing to market. When that client no longer needed my services I found myself scrambling. These days, so much of what I do feeds into itself that the marketing becomes built-in. I’ve also learned to value opportunities when they arise. You never know when someone may need your skills, or know someone else who does.
You also use your professional skills to support some volunteer work. Care to tell us more?
My experiences as an adult adoptee have led me to volunteer toward reform in adoption records access. Records access is not about search and reunion, but about identity. In addition to blogging about my personal experiences I serve as the Midwest Coordinator for the Green Ribbon Campaign (http://www.campaign4openrecords.org), a coalition of adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, industry professionals and others. We educate legislators, the media and the general public about adoption.
In your bio you mention fiction writing, but your published work so far is mostly non-fiction. Will we be seeing a novel from you?
I hope so! I write short stories and have completed two novels. One is a paranormal young adult story about a Chinese-American adoptee who is found by her birth family. I’ve also completed the first novel in an epic fantasy series. There is a dearth of books written by adoptees, for adoptees, and I’d like to see that change. I plan to introduce a new blog soon on my writer’s web site (www.trionaguidry.com) to share my fiction and related adventures. And I am always happy to talk to fellow writers—or help them with their computers!
Thanks to Elaine Isaak for the wonderful questions.