"Wow, you own your own business, that is great! You are so lucky." I think those words are a curse. I recently read a line, "Entrepreneurs are the only people willing to work 80 hours a week so they don't have to work 40." How very true.
Don't get me wrong, I loved my time with the sheriff's department, although a 40-hour work week was also laughable, especially when I was in homicide. Try 60-100 hours per week working murders during first call rotation. But I digress.
I love the idea of having my own business, being able to travel to new locations and re-visit places I have been for repeat customers. I love teaching what I know about my law enforcement experiences, either to newer cops who need to learn some new skills, or with writers who want to learn what it is cops do "in the real world, not the reel world" as a writer once put it to me perfectly.
Cops can be a tough audience at times. It depends on the reason they are at training in the first place and a lot also has to do with what shift they are working. A graveyard guy who ended his watch at 0600 hours and already had to wait around for a couple hours for class to start is tired, grumpy and usually hungry too. The first day of a three day course with a "yard-dog" can be pretty rough. Come 1600 hours (4:00 pm), they're usually toast. They were barely able to make it past lunch in the first place so you have two options; make day one extremely engaging with a lot of out of the chair experience or be ready to see the fluttering of eyelids and whites of eyes as pupils roll upward toward the heavens. Days two and three are fine usually, but I know it is rough. Been there, done that. Even for classes I waited a long time to get into, that first day coming off the yard, wow it is tough to stay awake. Yeah, 8:00 am for a graveyard guy can feel like 3:00 am to normal folks.
Now writers, on the other hand, are a whole different breed of audience. First, these wonderful people are spending their own hard-earned money for the course registration, and likely travel, lodging and transportation as well. They are eager to be there and have sometimes waited months and years to come to a special class like the one I offer. No matter their age, the writers are happy to be there with high expectations and as giddy as school children.
Writers of police procedural books and screenplays are fascinated with all things law enforcement. Sadly, often they are disappointed to learn that their favorite cop show is probably the least realistic and brings about jeers from real cops. When I got started consulting with writers, I was surprised at some of the questions on seemingly such basic topics, but then I realized I was living out a saying I have had for years. I don't believe there is something so wide spread as common sense.
To a highly trained and experienced pilot, it is common sense that before landing you must....well, do all kinds of pilot stuff. For me, there is no common sense to flying an airplane, other than buying the cheapest ticket and hoping for an upgrade. So for writers wanting to prepare an authentic screenplay, scene or novel, how would they know; where we get our weapons, leather gear and uniforms, what shifts we work and how that is decided, the names of the ranks and what they do...etc. There is no common sense. So that is where I fit in. I get to let writers in on all the little secrets, and it is so much fun. The enjoyment writers get, and the reactions I see coming from finally knowing the answer to a seemingly simple question, the ah-ha moment if you will, is truly delightful to watch on their faces.
But here is what I learned about writers very quickly. They don't do 8:00 am! Not unless they are forced to as I did during my first few seminars. In my defense, the LEO world of training conducts 8-hour minimum training courses which begin at 0800 hours and end at 1700 hours, with an hour for lunch. So, I started my Writers Homicide Schools at 8:00 am. Wow, was that a bad idea. As much as writers were looking forward to my class, they didn't take long with asking, "Hey Sarge, what is the deal with starting a class at the crack of dawn?" Apparently, writers don't go to sleep until the wee hours of the morn' whilst they are typing feverishly, re-writing, editing, still over stimulated with caffeine, or more often than not, it is the only time they can get some peace and quiet. Waking up early enough to shower, eat, dress and drive somewhere to be in class at 8:00 am was almost a sin to many of them. I learned.
For homicide detectives, there shall be no crime unless there is overtime.
For writers, there shall be no class when it is still bedtime.