Ex-FBI Agent & Chicago Cop: Are You A Writer?

By John M. Wills
Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is a man of many talents and experiences. John M. Wills is a retired FBI agent and former Chicago police officer with military experience. He is also a writer—a subject John shares with us today. In short, he writes from experience. Mystery writers: Tuck away information about this guy as you slog your way through another crime mystery manuscript.You may need his help someday to make your cop character emerge as more than a comic-strip figure, or need a law enforcement scene to read like the real thing.
I’m a writer. I finally feel comfortable saying that in response to people who ask me what I do. It wasn’t always that way, and I would venture to say that many of us who write may be reluctant to describe ourselves as such. Why? My sense is that there is no clear definition of a writer, no bright line of delineation that marks the point when one may claim the title of writer.
If you’re expecting me to make clear the ambiguities as to when one becomes a writer, let me disabuse you of that notion immediately. I don’t know the answer. I do know that there are many questions from not only ourselves, but from others, as to what makes someone a writer. Is it when one is paid for a particular work? Or is it perhaps, when one becomes published, regardless of whether compensation has been received? Again, I don’t know. (Clear here for link to Hook'em and Book'em article)

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Comment by Mark Young on May 22, 2011 at 9:51am
Just joined you on your blog. Look forward to  your posts.
Comment by Mary McFarland on May 22, 2011 at 9:22am

Mark, one word . . . Sweet! 


Thanks.  I know many of us here on CS are working toward that goal (getting published), but we're all writers, right?  


I've connected via my email link to Hook 'em and Crook 'em (delightful blog title by the way).  I THINK I'm a follower now (will double check).  Join me on my blog, Mark.  I'm launching it, but it's got plenty of value added right now for guys like you who're already published.  My blog's goals are twofold: 1) to write analytic reviews (no fluff) that help us all understand how we write and, how better to do so, and; 2) to connect ex-law enforcement individuals with mystery and suspense writers who need edits of their manuscripts.  Here's the link.  http://www.buzzardbone.blogspot.com   Thanks. 

Comment by Mark Young on May 22, 2011 at 8:54am
Great point, Mary. So many people equate being a writer with being published. One of the first comments they make, after learning you are a writer, is: Have I read any of  your novels? The assumption is that one can not be one without the other. It is apparent you have taken the time to become a writer worth publishing.
Comment by Mary McFarland on May 22, 2011 at 4:56am
One day, someone asked me what I do.  What I DO?  I used to hem-haw around.  Uh . . . I teach Composition, uh . . . I . . . uh.  Ya know?  Then one day, I said.  I'm a writer.  It came out easy and smooth: I had no doubt about it and I LIKED the way it rolled off my tongue.  Of course, having identified myself to myself, as well as the person who'd asked, I realized I'd placed myself in the company of some of the most talented personages on the planet, so I think part of my prior reluctance to admit being a writer was a fear of being misclassified as someone who was published.  Not . . . NOT the same thing.  You can be pub'd I realized, and NOT be a writer.  It's taken me years of very hard work to understand why I think of myself as a writer, and it has nothing to do with being pub'd.  I've toughed out and completed my first novel, a Golden Pen winner (3rd place, romantic suspense, 2010), and then the second . . . just finished and more lined up to write.  I want to get published, and I'm sure I will.  However, being a writer, for me at least, is knowing that doing anything other than writing would make life not worth living. Every day, I have to write, and that defines me.     

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