It’s been six short years since I retired from law enforcement and made the switch to being an author. Trust me when I say the two are polar opposites, but it was a welcome switch.
When I was a young adult entering law enforcement at twenty-one, I was already a private person. I’d already stopped letting people into my most vulnerable space without fear of being judged or becoming embarrassed.
When you are in law enforcement, others perceive you as the authority. You learn to master a look that suggests zero emotion, which I had already become good at. In that field, you were prepared for the worst of the worst to happen on any given day and in any given moment.
It was a daily struggle to not be overly guarded or cynical about the world. In law enforcement, you truly see the world according to a different, darker perspective that only your peers can relate to.
Shortly before it was time for me to retire, I began to search for what I wanted my next chapter to be. I was only fifty, and I knew I needed something to occupy me. Although I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, it had to involve little to no stress. As you can imagine, that ruled out many options.
At the time, I had few hobbies that I could turn into something other than just a hobby. My most enjoyable hobby has always been reading. I enjoyed reading James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe, and a few other canonical authors. In reading their work, I felt the raw and exposed elements of love, pain, and fear transformed into words. I was a prolific reader, so it was rare for me to not have a book on my nightstand.
As I aged, I navigated more toward newer authors writing gay fiction. However, I noticed that when I was reading some of those books, I would imagine how I would have written the story. Fiction writing wasn’t new to me. I had dabbled in creative writing in high school but never to the extent of writing an entire book.
The year before my career transition, I reached a point with one book at which I chose to close it while saying to myself, “I can write a better story than that.” I set out to do just that.
I never seriously considered publishing my writing, but I found myself writing every day. It was simply a creative outlet for me. I worked on a story for six months, and when it was done, I shared it with my husband. To my disbelief, he said it was so good that he thought I should submit it for publication.
That book was Come To The Oaks, which I published as my third book in 2017, and is a Rainbow Award winner, as well as a LAMBDA Literary Finalist in Gay Fiction.
At the beginning of my retirement, I knew I wanted to try to become a full-time writer who published quality books that addressed serious issues within the LGBTQ+ community. So, after twenty-seven years in law enforcement, I entered the realm of romance writing.
I found that the actual writing of a book is easy for me, but the hard part is sharing the product and having people judge my work and me. I realized that I could not escape this aspect of being a published author—nor should I—because it challenges me to want to be a better writer.
As an author, it’s easy to be sucked into the negativity of your critics. You begin comparing your work to others and asking yourself if you’re good enough. Unfortunately, this fed into struggles I’ve had most of my life—experiencing anxiety and self-doubt, attempting to stay positive, and not letting what is happening around me cloud my thinking.
They say you have to develop a thick skin if you want to be an author. However, being vulnerable and exposing a little of who you are can be magical and rewarding. It is a delicate balance to open yourself to vulnerability and risk rejection and pain while maintaining a thick skin.
Being an author requires me to be the opposite of who I had become while working in law enforcement. This process, although tough, encourages personal growth, which I welcome. I love my second career, and after publishing seven award-winning novels, all of which contain bits and pieces of who I am, I know myself better than I ever had. I love it.