Valentine’s Day has come and gone this year. I didn’t pay much attention to it, because I was busy working. Plus, I think people deserve affection and attention and random gifts and compliments and time spent on them throughout the year, not just on one special day. Also, as a single gal, I get a bit burnt out by the fact that this day revolves around “love” — but only for romantic love. There’s a lot more to love, and tonight I got to thinking about that.
My brain’s thought process is odd, so I’ll save you the trouble of the twists it took getting to this blog post and my topic. It relates to my writing, and it relates to Valentine’s Day. Just go with it, okay?
So how do I get from “romantic love” to “writing”? As I said, there is a lot more to love (and that’s a whole other blog post). Years ago, I remember reading that every author tends to write the same story over and over again, but with slight variations. I’m not sure how true that is, at least when it comes to plot or specific stories. I’ve read authors who have the “same characters” in nearly every story. But what I think this translates to — at least for me — is that I have one theme that comes through in every story I sit down to write.
I’m not the girl who writes a story consciously around a “theme” — in fact, it took me years (and years and years) of writing stories before I finally realized that I DO have themes in my stories. The funny part was realizing that it wasn’t a different theme in every story… but more of a “same theme, different story” kind of thing.
What I found is that my theme is similar to what I love reading and watching the most: family and relationships. Found family, sibling bonds, teams that pull together, relationships forged in battle and hard times. Its about trust. About those characters who have nobody, and find themselves in the middle of a circle of friends, co-workers, or adopted into a family. That, ladies and gentlemen, is nearly ALWAYS my cup of coffee.
I grew up in a family with close bonds. I have three siblings, all younger. We were all born within five-and-a-half years, so believe me when I say we were close (in age) and bickered like it. We knew we were loved. I grew up going to family functions where I was accepted without conditions, with love and affection. It didn’t matter how distant the relationship was (or if it was simply by bonds of affection), we were loved and accepted. When I took an “adopted” little brother with me to one of the family reunions, no questions were asked, he was simply accepted into the gathering and treated as though he was one of the family.
That, sadly, hasn’t been everyone’s experience. And growing up, I’ve seen what the other side of this coin feels like. Being tossed aside as unwanted. Being treated like a disposable commodity. Being an afterthought.
I don’t do disposable relationships. Friendship isn’t taken lightly. Adopting someone as an honorary sibling is not something that is taken back. Relationships are valuable.
It took me multiple years of writing before I actually realized that the themes that I write, in every story, are the same ones that matter the most to me. The world may define them as “squad goals” or “found family” — I think of it as wanting to show people what God’s view of “family” actually can look like. For those who haven’t had the blessing of family or friends who modeled that, I want to show people that the family of God can be like that.
One of my favorite movies in the Marvel franchise is The Avengers. You take a group of strong, talented individuals… and somehow, they end up working together as a team. It sets up the rest of the movie franchise, and it is WELL DONE. This entire franchise is full of themes of friendship, siblings, and found family.
One of the moments that really resonated with me in Endgame was when Natasha says, “I used to have nothing and then I got this family.” The relationship between Natasha and Clint is one of my favorite things threaded through the films. I love that there’s platonic friendship, trust, and a sibling-like bond represented here. I love that Clint’s kids call her “Auntie Nat” and Clint’s wife Laura obviously isn’t threatened or bothered by their relationship. That is relationship done right.
Thor: Ragnarock is another one of my favorite films in this universe. Its hilarious, outrageous, slap-stick, and yet… it is the culmination arc of some FANTASTIC character development, not just of Loki and Thor as individual characters, but with their sibling relationship as brothers. You can’t wish away siblings. You can improve the relationship, but you can’t escape it — even if it is by adoption.
Steve and Bucky’s brother dynamic playing out over the course of the films is another family bond I love seeing. I know, I know… people have definitely tried to go down the romantic path with them, but I seriously can’t see it. Brotherhood IS a powerful bond. That willingness to sacrifice and fight and never give up doesn’t just happen in romantic love. That is what brotherhood truly means.
The point of all of this isn’t to continue indefinitely down the Marvel rabbit hole of things I love (that is an entirely different black hole we aren’t going into right now). The point is just to talk about how my writing style takes the premise of “found family” and “adoption by choice” and “siblings forever” and “friends are loyal no matter what” and how it comes out in my writing.
In my historical flavored space adventure, The Tikvah Crisis, I have dual MC’s who are twins: Alys and Kyler. Both of them were orphaned at a young age, and they grew up as each other’s support system. They have each other’s backs, they trust each other, they fight for each other, and they are always there for each other. Their family legacy is one of “mess with one of us, mess with all of us” kind of vibe.
One of the WIPs that is sitting on a shelf waiting for me to come back to it has a trio of siblings. They are incredibly dysfunctional in their relationship, at least outwardly, but the key premise is that all three of them would do anything for the other two. Another WIP is about the co-worker/team dynamic, with a very non-team player, independent, cynical character who ends up having to work with the rest of her team to solve a problem… and how she gets pulled into the work “family” despite herself.
Even looking back, most of the stories I have in various stages of completion are all about orphans finding family, siblings doing their level best to keep their family together, or people finding a place and a family to call home. You might say it is my writing theme. I’ve given up trying to write anything else. Until that theme is replaced by something different, I will continue to write stories about families — unconventional families, family built by blood, family found in battle or forged in fire, family built from friendship and loyalty, or family forged by choice.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” Psalm 68:5-6, ESV
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone