I’ve been thinking about families lately. Specifically, two kinds of family: the kind we are born into and the kind we create for ourselves among the strangers we meet in the course of our lives.

I have a brother I love dearly. I never had a sister, but I was blessed with girl cousins who were close in age. As children, we’d play together like siblings. Holidays were always big gatherings, too. And when we got older, we stood as bridesmaids in each others’ weddings. Eventually, we moved away from our family homes and out of each other’s lives.

This week, some of my cousins came to town for an impromptu four-day get-together. From the get-go, I was struck by how easily we slipped back into sister-mode. Making lunch, shopping, and just sittin’ around reminiscing, the bonds between us are still there, despite the years we’ve been apart. It’s such a comfortable, validating feeling to be with them, those people who knew us way back when.

Almost a decade ago, writing groups and writing conferences introduced me to a different kind of family. After attending my first writing conference, I felt like I had finally found my “peeps.” Without these new sisters and brothers, my writing life would be one lonely enterprise.

I’m especially grateful to the angels among them who’ve taken a personal interest in my work. At times when I’ve been ready to tear my hair out in frustration, they come through with encouragement and sage advice.

When I was growing up, I imagined a writer’s life to be a solitary existence. I never imagined that I’d find such a nurturing community here. But that is exactly what happened.

I’m lucky to have all these folks in my life. Whether related by blood or by our love of books, it’s family that makes life worthwhile.

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and out later this summer, The Body in the News.


14 replies
  1. Dru Ann
    Dru Ann says:

    We definitely have multiple families all to share our joys, triumphs, and sadness. Glad you enjoyed your time with your cousins.

  2. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    My sentiments exactly. Glad to be surrounded by both–wonderful girl-cousin-sisters and wonderful writer-sisters (and brothers)!

  3. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    So well stated, Gay. We all need nurturing family, friends, and writing colleagues. I’m always amazed at how writing extends my family and friends, often times the initial contact is minimal through a presentation or a book event and it grows into a wonderful relationship.

  4. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Gay, love this. Glad you have a wonderful relationship with your cousins. Family dynamics are often the most difficult. We can’t choose our family relations; the family connections we make on the outside are often more rewarding!

  5. Barb Eikmeier
    Barb Eikmeier says:

    I love that part about slipping back into sister-mode! I recently had a military friend visit and my favorite part of her stay was cooking with her. Gosh we laughed. And the shared memories! She is like family!

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