Colin Green: Portland Copywriter, Publisher

Public Relations Profile: Willamette Galley

PUBLICATION: Spotlight Column, Willamette Galley


To pro­file pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers for an audi­ence of oth­er indus­try writers. 



Spotlight: Melissa Amos


Young and sporting a relaxed confidence, Melissa Amos is articulate, intelligent, and funny. It was easy to see how this woman, with a mere three years of technical writing under her belt, could be an award winner.


Melissa is part of the four-member PacifiCorp team the three others are Mike Gregory, Sara Regan, and Debbie Guerra whose procedures manual won an Award of Excellence in the WVC Technical Publications Competition and an Award of Merit in the STC International Technical Publications Competition. The procedures manual took seven months to craft and construct. Those seven months represented the first technical writing project that Melissa worked on from start to finish.


When asked how she felt about winning the award, Melissa said with a smile that it was a great affirmation of her abilities as a technical writer. Affirmation, of course, is meaningful to technical writers of any experience level. But it is especially critical to the aspirants whose doubts, in the absence of previous experience testifying to their abilities, can carry extra weight. For Melissa the STC award meant exactly that: Oh wow, I can really do this.”

As someone with a degree in communications from Carroll College in Helena, Montana, Melissa loves words and the written language. She moved to Portland to be a journalist. Immediately upon arriving, she fell in love with the city. “Portland is fabulous,” she said. “I have a city crush.”


Portland also harbored another pleasant surprise. As luck would have it, Melissa took an administrative job at PacifiCorp, while she settled into her new home. From the administrative position, Melissa naturally migrated toward PacifiCorp's publications, technical writing, and technologies arena, where she first tried technical writing through volunteering.


The aspiring journalist quickly discovered that technical writing, with its balancing act of the analytical and creative in service to language, perfectly fit her disposition. Indeed, Melissa's passion for technical writing was so highly piqued that she soon enrolled in the Portland State University program for Masters of Science in Professional and Technical Writing.


Melissa prefers to think of the degree as Masters in Technical Communication. Given my specialization in information architecture and usability, she says neither of which necessarily involve writing, I feel this is a more accurate descriptor. Melissa expects to earn the degree in 2010. Melissa found her writing niche by shifting from journalism to technical communication. I much rather talk to an engineer, she says. For a technical writer, such words are the badge of a confirmed geek.


Melissa's succinct explanations and easy manner can fool you, however. She is a determined soul, also an attribute fundamental to a successful technical writer. Deciding to pursue her longstanding interest in photography as an avocation, Melissa was not satisfied with simply bringing the camera along with her on outings, shooting pictures as the occasion presented itself.


Last year, she set about on what she dubbed The 366 Days Project. She established a goal of taking photographs on every day of year, no matter the weather, no matter the competing engagements, no matter the time of day, no matter how tired she was or how miserable the conditions. Why 366 days? Last year, 2008, was a leap year. Melissa, the amateur photographer, did not miss one day.