Friday, June 24, 2011

Romance IRL – Find Your Family’s Romantic Roots

Last weekend was Father’s Day and occasions like that one always get me thinking about my relationships with my family members.

One thing that I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that family is about connections. It’s based on continuity. As a kid, I loved hearing about my parents as children. Every story—about the big scar they still sport, their escapades with their siblings and friends, about the community they enjoyed which has since vanished—was repeated over and over for my young ears until I knew each by heart.

Why did I love these stories so much?

Well, a part of it was because my parents had moved far from their family members and we only visited once in a while so they were maintaining a link to their respective families by recreating those childhood memories.

Part of it was also to relate back to my own contemporary antics. Many of the stories became about me as I grew up and, by these stories entering into the family’s oral history, I was enfolded into the family. Recently at a wedding, an uncle I hadn’t seen in years reminded me of an old incident that brought a smile to everyone’s faces, reconnecting us in an instant through the shorthand of a story only we could relate to.

So what does this have to do with romance and writing romance novels?

My contribution to romance IRL (in real life) is this suggestion: write down your family’s oral history. Make those stories you hear every so often at weddings and reunions into a written record of births, loves, and marriages, which future generations can enjoy.

Ask questions that you’ve been too lazy or busy to ask. Ask about first loves. Maybe your grandmother’s first love wasn’t actually your grandfather! There could be a great story there. Filling in these interesting blanks could give you a whole new perspective on your loved ones.

The time to do it is now. Every year, precious family members are lost or incapacitated. Capture their memories in their own words.

You may just find out something new about that well-known commodity: your family. Best of all, you will be preserving those familiar family stories that you love for the future.

Photo courtesy of posterize at

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