My Tribe

In three weeks time I will have been retired from law enforcement for seven years. Seven! Even as I look at the calendar I am unsure how time passed so quickly. But a quick trip into Portland and the sight of another twelve-year-old behind the wheel of a black and white confirms the awful truth. I am officially a dinosaur.

If you’ve followed some of my prior blog posts you already know how much I struggled after leaving my police life behind. The first few weeks were grand. It felt like a vacation. The phone wasn’t ringing constantly, no frantic emails to return, no emergency trips into Portland in the dead of night. It was truly great. But then, after those first few weeks had passed, I noticed something. The phone wasn’t ringing. There were no emails. Nobody needed me. It was as if I’d become obsolete overnight. Worse was the realization that I had lost that decades long connection to my police family. It might be hard for some of you reading this to imagine the feeling of no longer belonging, especially if you’re still approaching retirement from your current occupation. But trust me, it’s an unnerving experience.

I’ve known for some time that my fellow mystery/thriller writers are a welcoming and supportive group of folks. That awareness began in New England, quickly spreading to faraway places like Ireland and Australia. Fellow crime scribes abound. But it wasn’t until a week ago that I realized exactly where I belong.

I was in Tennessee attending my first Killer Nashville mystery writers’ conference. If you are a mystery writer, or hoping to be, this is a can’t miss conference. Similar in size to the New England Crime Bake, Killer Nashville draws writers from far and wide, each of whom are more than willing to share their knowledge, both of writing and the business of writing. I took part in several panels and book signings, but more importantly I got to spend time with old friends and made some new.

On Saturday night the awards banquet was held. A classy event with a fabulous band, great food, some heartfelt speeches, and the presentation of Killer Nashville’s annual awards. As the evening unfolded I had occasion to really observe the people seated at my table, former journalists, musicians, and a cop. While our our prior occupations ran the gamut, each of us shares a love of storytelling and a passion for the written word. Amid the laughter, gaiety, and playful irreverence was the unwavering support and appreciation displayed for their fellow writers. As I watched them interact with one another it occurred to me that these were exactly the same people I had surrounded myself with when I still wore a badge. People from all walks of life, with widely varying backgrounds and experiences, united by a remarkable passion for their chosen career. I realized, with certainty, that I had once again found my tribe.

7 thoughts on “My Tribe

  1. Bruce, thank you for sharing. As you well know, both writing and lengthy surveillance can be a solitary experience. Much of my professional life has been spent in that state. I’ve had work friends and tight knit teams before, but the bonds of true brother- or sisterhood, people with whom you’ve been through the fire or share a special passion, those bonds are rare and special. I consider myself lucky to have found such a “tribe” and to count myself as part of yours. Well said, brother!

    And by the way, you’re too humble to crow, but doesn’t that Silver Falchion you won at Killer Nashville make a hell of a badge? Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, Bruce. I, too, found my “tribe” in policing, as well as the Army. There’s a special bond between people whose very lives depend on each other–those who have “shared a foxhole” together. I have also found an incredibly supportive network among fellow crime fiction writers. Most people live a lifetime searching for one such group of brothers and sisters; being part of two or more is a true blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hiya Bruce,

    I’m the tattooed dude the next table over from your friendly group at the KN banquet and what you said at the award really resonated with me. As an American who lived abroad for a decade and recently returned to the US I’ve been struggling with reverse culture shock and finding my tribe as well. It’s an ongoing process. Fortunately, I had similar epiphanies at Killer Nashville and met a great many people. Even though we’ve taken different paths through life our passions of storytelling and literature puts us all in a shared group. Thanks for sharing your journey and I hope to chat in Nashville next year.

    Liked by 1 person

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