Friday, September 12, 2008

A Tortured Writer

Posted by Robin Kaye

Yesterday afternoon at 2:00 I emailed the manuscript of my spring 2009 release, Too Hot To Handle to my editor.  At 4:30, she called to tell me the synopsis of my nest book, The Making Of A Domestic God, is due on her desk in one week. I had an entire two and a half hours of blissful self-adulation. If I hadn't been driving my twelve-year-old to her dance class, that time would have involved a toast, maybe a quiet celebratory dinner with my own domestic god. But my life isn't that romantic. Instead, I received a high-five from my daughter and spent the evening at her dance school among other tortured dance parents.

And speaking of torture, this morning in my dentist's office, I endured the second half of a root canal. I thought nothing could be worse than the first half. I was wrong. If I were ever to write a romantic suspense, I'd definitely have a deranged dentist as my villain. Mind you, I didn't tell my dentist this until after he put away his drills. He chuckled softly as he removed my bib.

I'm writing this blog without a bib and without a drink. I'm so numb, I'm afraid anything I imbibed would dribble down my chin without my noticing, since the entire left side of my head lacks feeling. When I touched my ear only to find it numb, I asked my dentist if maybe he'd gotten a little carried away with the Novocain. He smiled in that way dentists have when speaking to difficult patients and asked, "Did you feel any pain?" The answer, of course, was no, but was it really necessary for him to numb my whole head and neck?

Is it any wonder that while I lay in the torture chamber called his office, my mind wandered down a familiar path? I call it the writer's path. It's a place I've visited all my life, and used to get in trouble for when I was in school. My teachers always said, "Robin is constantly daydreaming." Before you publish your first book, it's called daydreaming; after, it's called plotting.

The books I plot come alive in my mind. It's like a movie running through my brain. The characters I shape are as real as any other person in my world, although they're better looking, thinner, and for the most part, vastly more interesting. They're wittier, funnier, and richer--after all, I write fiction.

While lying in the chair at my dentists office, The Making Of A Domestic God took shape. I'll soon commit it to paper. Knowing me, Becca, my heroine, will probably have a run-in with a dentist and come out of his office wondering when she'll be able to drink without dribbling and how long it will take before she can speak without sounding as if she's in desperate need of speech therapy. I won't even go into the thought I had about how a rubber dam feels in one's mouth when the area is shared with the gloved fingers of a Novocain-wielding dentist--after all, this is a family friendly blog, is it not?

It does make me wonder how many real-life experiences make their way into the pages of other author's books.


  1. Robin, sometimes when I'm sitting through a lousy experienced, the only thing that gets me through is thinking of a way that it could figure into the plot of a book. This includes most trips to the doctor! Great job on your completed assignments, and best of luck on the ones to come!

  2. LOL!!!! Got it!!! But I prefer my dams without rubber!!!
    My last root canal was done by an absolute hunk with the most gorgeous big brown eyes I've ever seen. I spent the whole time gazing up at them, and since his eyes were occupied elsewhere, I didn't have to worry about the eye contact.
    Mmm, think that other molar is starting to hurt.....

  3. Oh God. I've heard about dental dams but never seen one. You'll have to tell me more about that. I had crowns put in and someone said that's the first step to root canal. I shudder to think.

    RWR had an article about how to (and how not to) put real-life experiences into one's manuscripts. Personally I like it when I can use a real-life experience in a story, because I've been there and I dare anyone to tell me "that's not how it works". My own DG has taken me to so many places and events since we met that I have that many more experiences to share in my stories. I don't think I've ever gone on vacation without first thinking, "How can I work this into a story?" We just got back from Las Vegas 3 weeks ago and I'm still cooking up a story about a woman who takes "What happens in Vegas..." in a whole different direction.

    Great blog, Robin! Hope you're feeling better and the painkillers aren't fogging your creativity! :)

  4. Aww....Poor Robin! I do hope you are better now and that the offshoot of your trauma will be brilliant writing!

    Can't say I've used too many direct happenings from my life into my story, but then I write in the Regency Era, so things are very different! Lizzy does not go to work or even have to take care of her own kids! Ha! For me it has been more the applying of universal and timeless aspects such as emotions, interpersonal relations, sensuality, etc. Those things that are the same no matter what time you live in. I know that Darcy's romanticism is inspired by my husband, who is VERY romantic. Many of his gestures to/for Lizzy are based on stuff my hubby has said or done. Lizzy's pregnancy and birth followed many of the steps mine did.

  5. Dentists. You poor baby. I'm working up the courage (and the funds) for a major oral redecorating, so this really made me cringe.

    Some happy news? I pre-ordered your book from B&N yesterday. But I thought it would be out before 1 Novemember. I'm a bit bummed, but I'll get over it. See you next month. YAY!

    Write well, my friend.
    Feel better soon.

  6. Feel better soon Robin!

    I see "Domestic God" is a keeper--wonderful. It is a great phrase that will really stick with people. Congrats on getting your MS in; I cannot wait to read it.

  7. Sherri D. (MRW member)September 12, 2008 at 12:27 PM

    Ha! Lots of my personal experiences show up in the writing. I'll just never tell which ones. tee hee
    Yes, one good thing about the dentist is you are forced to think about something else or you will go bananas. I find myself working through writing problems all the time in the shower or driving. Both places where I can't get to paper!
    I relate to what Cheryl says about the gorgeous dentist. My optometrist is a hottie -- makes the visits so much more fun.
    Good luck on your synopsis and Congratulations!

  8. Hi everyone~

    I'm getting ready to make the trip to the dance school again. I'll be off line for the afternoon but I appreciate the responses. Thanks, Pat for ordering Romeo, Romeo. I hope you like it when it does arrive.

    Sherri - I usually don't admit which situations in my books come from personal experience either. I keep thinking about my father after he read Romeo, Romeo. He told me he hoped I just had a really good imagination. LOL That's when I told him not to worry. All three of my kids were immaculate conceptions, that's why they're such angels--NOT!

    I'll try to check in later.

    Hugs to all,

    Robin :)

  9. LOL, Robin, too funny! I await Becca's dental chair seen. Also, FYI, I made an appt. with my dentist after reading your post. Makes me almost wish for a cavity (NOT a root canal). Sounds like those drugs are awesome to inspire the muse. :) I think there's a lot of real life adventures that make their way into books. Great post.

  10. Robin,

    Sorry your experience was so unpleasant. I hope you're feeling like yourself again soon and can send that lopsided, Novocain-induced smile packing.

    I loved your line about our brainstorming a story being called daydreaming in the days before we admitted to the world that we're writers and plotting afterward. Cute.

  11. Oh Robin {hugs}, you reminded me of Steve Martin and Little Shop of Horrors. That was one of my favorite parts! I've had so many root canals that I don't remember how many I had. I do remember the pain before, during and after, although oddly enough, I had a few root canals that didn't hurt. Must have been Numb Novicaine Mania! Great blog about the possibilities of using real life experiences in a book, and/or, ways to pass time when you're strapped down to a chair! Congratulations on your career taking off! You're MY hero!


  12. URG! Root canals! I've had a few and my sincere sympathy, Robin!!!

    Of course I've used real life experiences in amongst the totally fabricated ones. And no, I'll never tell!

    Well, okay sometimes I do. I have a friend who has family near Venice and when she read one description in my story set in Venice (it had to do with orange peels and cigarette butts floating in one of the canals) she said, "I KNOW this is from real life, isn't it." I admitted that yes, it was. ;-)

    Stick with soft foods and lots of liquids for a couple of days, Robin. You'll be glad you did!


  13. Robin I hope you feel better. I know that root canels are terrible and that's why I refuse to have them. I upped you one today though as I went to the dentist also this morning and had six teeth pulled. Now that the drugs are wearing off it feels like he pulled on my nose too. LOL! Take care sweetie.

  14. Robin, I feel your dental pain. If there is anything that can make most folks cringe, it is the thought of going to the dentist. They never had fluoride treatments and sealants when I was young.

    As far as putting one's own life experiences into a novel, I did manage to sneek a few things into my writing, even though they are historicals. My family picked up on them.

    Congrats on the upcoming releases!

    A Fellow MRW member

  15. Hi Everyone~

    Thanks for all the good wishes. I'm just chewing on the right side, the left still hurts. I'm hoping it's temporary.

    Great comments! I totally get the orange peels and cigarette butts in Venice, Cindy. Been there and some of it was pretty gross. Not as gross as all the American's I saw eating McDonalds though. I couldn't believe these people came all the way to Venice and actually ate at Mickey D's! It's a travesty!

    I, on the other hand, had a fabulous meal in a really cute little trattoria. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

    Hugs to all,

    Robin :)

  16. Robin, good question the end of your blog. I wondered for quite a while if I should answer truthfully, or make something up. In the end I decided to come clean.

    I time travelled from 1815 to the year 2000, when I started writing, and everything in my novels is real. It either happened to me, or to a very good friend.

  17. Hey Robin,
    Cute post. Sorry to hear about the root canal, but only you could map out a new book with a dam in your mouth! LOL!