By Robin Kaye
My youngest daughter was born with a very rare genetic disorder (she’s one in a million in more ways than just one.) It took us over a month for her to be diagnosed. My husband and I spent the first three years of Isabelle’s life trying desperately to keep her alive. During that time, it seemed as if there wasn’t a week that went by when we weren’t rushing her to the hospital with pneumonia, 106 degree fever, or seizures. She had five operations between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. Between Isabelle and my other two children (a 4-year-old and 18 month-old), I don’t think I slept a full night in all that time.
Before Isabelle was born, I read everything I could get my hands on and I admit to being somewhat of a literary snob. I had eclectic tastes, but I always made it a point to read all of the Oprah books. After I had Izzy, I realized that the Oprah books were, more often than not, depressing. My life was depressing enough. I didn’t need to read about the nasty realities of life while slogging through it.
I remember one inordinately hellish day at the hospital when a nurse I had become close to gave me a book by Bill Cosby. I spent the night sitting by Isabelle’s crib, reading and chuckling. After that night, I searched out every funny book I could get my hands on. Reading comedies kept me relatively sane during Izzy’s first trying years.
Now I write Romantic Comedy. When I started writing, everyone told me that “Romantic Comedies don’t sell”. I was told to call my books Contemporary Romance. What I didn’t understand was why? Who doesn’t like to laugh? Especially during times like these?
If, when you read my book, you laugh a time or two and spend how ever many hours it takes you to read it without once thinking of the bad economy or whether or not you’ll be able to pay the electric bill, I’ve done my job. If you think about my characters with a smile on your face long after you’ve read “The End,” I’ve done my job. If you can sit in a hospital room reading, and my book serves as a mental escape from the torture of seeing someone you love suffer without being able to do a damn thing about it, I’ve done my job.
When I write, I’m not trying to make you think deep thoughts or encourage you to change the world. I don’t envision thousands of students studying my every word. I don’t set out to pen the great American novel. When I write I have one purpose: I write to entertain you. Human beings need to laugh. It creates endorphins that make us feel better. Some call it mind candy and maybe they’re right. But who doesn’t need something sweet every now and again?
Oh, and I’m very happy to say Isabelle is now a happy and relatively healthy 12-year-old. Last year when she was given a personality test that is supposed to tell her what careers would suit her personality, the top four were stand-up comic, writer, artist, or television/movie producer. I guess all that laughter rubbed off on her.
As a reader, why do you read? What do you look for in a book? And if you’re a writer, why do you write?