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Susan Milstrey Wells

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What’s in a Name?

Wizzy what? Wisey who? “You couldn’t have chosen Acme Publishing as your business name?” my IT consultant asked plaintively, as he repeatedly tried typing WYSIWYG Publishing while setting up my email accounts.

Truth be told, I often have to look carefully at the name when I type it myself. The only way I’m certain to get it right is if I say what it stands for as I type—What You See Is What You Get. Pronounced “wizzywig.” Like Fezziwig, the cheerful businessman with whom young Scrooge apprenticed in the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

Why choose a name that is difficult to spell and odd to pronounce? Now that’s a story!

Years ago, I talked myself into a job in which they were looking for not only a writer but someone to do desktop publishing. “I’ve always wanted to learn desktop publishing,” I said truthfully. My new employer gave me a choice of two programs I could buy, and not being familiar with page layout, I inadvertently chose the one that turned out to be the more difficult program to learn.

My boss gave me a key to the office so I could let myself in nights and weekends to teach myself how to design an 8-page newsletter. I distinctly remember opening the manual and my eyes fell on the term “WYSIWYG.” By that point I was certain I’d really gotten myself into a pickle. What was I thinking? I’m a writer, not designer. Seeing this strange and unpronounceable term only confirmed my worst fears. I was close to tears.

Then I went to the glossary and looked up “WYSIWYG.” What you see is what you get. It meant that whatever you rendered on the computer screen would be the same as what you would see in print.

Oh. That seemed simple. Not a scary technical term after all.

Immediately, I began to relax. WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get.” But to me, is stands for, “You’ve got this.” “You can do it.” “You’re going to be OK.”

And I was. I wrote and designed the newsletter for several years, until I realized I’m no designer. I’m a writer. I proved I could do it, and then I turned the design over to a pro and concentrated on my writing.

When I first opened my own business, WYSIWYG Publishing seemed to say it all. To me, it inspires self-confidence. To my clients, it says, “I’ve got this.” I will give you my best, the first time and every time. Now, would Acme Publishing say that?

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