In the Line of Fire
By David Riggs
As an editor who spends his days reading, writing, and, well, editing, sometimes it is difficult for me to read for pleasure (I tend to proofread the copy). I m always reminded of a Leslie Starke cartoon that appeared long ago in The New Yorker; it shows a commercial fisherman holding a rod and reel off the back of the trawler, blissfully watching the bobber float. As his crewmates heave their nets into the water, the caption reads, I think it makes us all look damned silly the way Ferguson spends his off duty time.
That said, I ve always been a steady reader. I won t go so far as to say voracious, but suffice it to say that I always have laying around a book or two that has captured my interest. I m not a cover-to-cover kinda guy; it s more likely that I ll read a chapter before bed every night, or a few pages here and there while I kill time (those of you with a spouse and/or kids know what I m talking about). However, albeit leisurely, I eventually work my way through every book I start.
Sidelined with a broken wrist this past summer provided more time for me to read. Much more time. Too much time. Among the books I read whilst on the mend were several that had a loosely related theme: Blue Blood, a memoir written by Harvard-educated NYPD detective Edward Conlon; Population: 485, a collection of essays based on author Michael Perry s experiences working with the local volunteer fire and rescue department in his rural Wisconsin hometown (the subtitle says it all: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time); Jarhead: A Marine s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford; and, tangentially, German Boy, the emotional story of Wolfgang W. E. Samuel s struggle to survive a childhood ravaged by war. All four captivated me with compelling narratives of horrific events, poignant encounters, humorous anecdotes, and even mundane everyday experiences. What resonated for me, though, was that these men so effectively and efficiently told their stories, each in their own words and their own style. Using different colors and materials, they each nonetheless painted a vivid picture that made me a witness to their lives.
At some point I half sarcastically, half cynically made the comment to my wife who as an elementary school teacher has enough humorous, horrific, and mundane material to fill several volumes that Conlon, Perry, and Swofford especially had an advantage, in that their jobs provide an overabundance of material about which to write. Although grateful that I m not in the line of fire, I can admit that I m a tad jealous that their jobs provide ample resources from which to draw when they sit down to the keyboard. I like to write, but c mon, who wants to read about my decision to use an em dash instead of a semi-colon? Or the times I ve had to change peaked to piqued or viola to voil (as a fiddle player that one always cracks me up).
The great thing about asp.netPRO is that we offer solutions to real-world problems, simply because the jobs held by our writers provide an overabundance of material about which to write. They are in the line of fire; the issues encountered by our writers in their daily work often provide the content for future articles. And you benefit, because you get first-hand accounts of what works best, straight from the professionals who are doing the work every day. Maybe the solutions are mundane, or maybe they prevent a horrific event. Either way, you get top-flight help from the industry s leading authorities. And, voil , that should pique your interest.
Thanks for reading.
David Riggs is editor-in-chief of asp.netPRO and its companion e-newsletter, asp.netNOW. Reach him at mailto:[email protected].