It’s two o’clock in the morning and I’m burning up the internet, brainstorming with a retired police officer about what happens when a local police investigation runs head-on into an undercover FBI operation, among other scenarios. Yes, it’s true: my job is cooler than yours. Unless you’re also a writer. 😉
Here’s the best part: The officer I’m working with is a guy I attended grammar school with. I literally haven’t seen him since we were in the fourth grade! Well, if you don’t count seeing one another’s profile pics on Facebook.
I guess we’ve been Facebook friends for a couple of years now. I honestly don’t remember how or why we reconnected, but I thought it was kind of neat to be “talking” again to someone I hadn’t seen since we were riding around on stingray bikes and playing freeze tag.
I never thought much about the fact that his profile read “Retired from Trenton Police Department” – although I do remember admiring a great photo of him and his K-9 partner on his Facebook wall. But when I found myself with a couple of knotty law enforcement questions (that had just stopped my writing in its tracks), I thought: Why not ask Kevin?
I hesitated. Do I know him well enough to ask such a favor? Would he think my questions were dumb? Maybe I should just keep Googling…
Well, you know what? He said Yes without hesitation, despite the fact that, without Facebook, we’d be virtual strangers today.
So, if you’re a writer and you’re struggling with getting something in your WIP just right, don’t waste as much time as I did (duh!) trying to figure it out yourself. (There’s only so much you can learn by Googling, anyway, if authenticity is your goal – as it should and must be!) I recommend making a list of all the people who could possibly help you with whatever you’re stuck on. Go for it – make that list as long as possible – don’t hold back! Then just go ahead and send out the call. ASK. You’ve got nothing to lose. The truth is, people want to help others. (And it doesn’t hurt to mention that you’ll be sure to acknowledge their contribution in your book!)
Speaking of which, it would be difficult to outdo Nelson DeMille, who included this – arguably one of the best acknowledgments ever written – in his 2006 novel, “Wild Fire”:
There is a new trend among authors to thank famous people for inspiration, non-existent assistance, and/or some casual reference to the author’s work. Authors do this to pump themselves up. So, on the off chance that this is helpful, I wish to thank the following people: the Emperor of Japan and the Queen of England for promoting literacy; William S. Cohen, former secretary of defense, for dropping me a note saying he liked my books, as did his boss, Bill Clinton; Bruce Willis, who called me one day and said, “Hey, you’re a good writer”; Albert Einstein, who inspired me to write about nuclear weapons; General George Armstrong Custer, whose brashness at the Little Bighorn taught me a lesson on judgement; Mikhail Gorbachev, whose courageous actions indirectly led to my books being translated into Russian; Don DeLillo and Joan Didion, whose books are always before and after mine on bookshelves, and whose names always appear before and after mine in almanacs and many lists of American writers—thanks for being there, guys; Julius Caesar, for showing the world that illiterate barbarians can be beaten; Paris Hilton, whose family hotel chain carries my books in their gift shops; and last but not least, Albert II, King of the Belgians, who once waved to me in Brussels as the Royal Procession moved from the Palace to the Parliament Building, screwing up traffic for half an hour, thereby forcing me to kill time by thinking of a great plot to dethrone the King of the Belgians.
There are many more people I could thank, but time, space, and modesty compel me to stop here.
Kevin, I promise to put you near the top of the list. 😉