Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our Paths Do Cross

You wouldn't think it, but our professional paths do cross, Dave's and mine.

Often, volunteer fire fighters from Dave's department are in my writing classes. They tell of rescues, of danger, of life with the guys at Station One. Sometimes, I "poach" a potential prospect. I see organization, committment, clear thinking, and I ask the student if they've ever considered fire fighting.

Then, there's my own writing. A few years ago, after a fire ravaged through Lake Tahoe, I wrote, of all things, a travel article about it. Dave and I had left the kids behind, had driven to Angora Lake, where we stood at the lookout over acres and acres of ash, a flag unfurling above it all.

And recently, there has come the perfect pairing of these two seemingly contrasting worlds. After a handful of months, I've created Oregon's first Fire Officer Composition class. Choosing the literature was fun--and tricky. I found a slew of excellent memoirs, novels, short stories, and essays, before I ended up picking really action-y stuff, stuff on smoke jumpers, on 9-11.

Over two full days, these officers will read and write their own stories: their most significant call, how to ventilate or how to place a ladder.

This is not report writing, the local chiefs have told me. They want narrative, narrative, narrative.

Undoubtedly, after reading and reading and writing and writing, these public servants will be much different thinkers. I believe that I will be, too.

1 comment:

Catherine Denton said...

What a cool idea! I never would have linked firefighters and writers together.
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