My name is Caron and I love to write and I love to read.
When I was a kid, the bookmobile stopped at the park near my home every Thursday afternoon. I was lucky — I could check out all the books I wanted — since my dad helped me get a library card at the ‘big’ library in Santa Ana, the next town over from where I grew up. On Saturdays, while the other kids were out surfing, I was camped on my beach towel reading books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and E.B. White and later — Kahlil Gibran and Erich Segal.
After graduating high school, I studied Communications (English was overcrowded) at nearby Cal State Fullerton (a good value with six siblings in line for tuition). I petitioned classes outside my major, but in my defense, the course catalogue read like a dream book for a writer’s soul — Short Story, Sports Writing, American Literature, Shakespeare on Film, Chaucer.
I left college after my junior year, newly married with bills to pay and a baby on the way. Sadly, the marriage didn’t work, so I headed to Atlanta (where my parents and younger sister had moved the year before) and found work in the paper industry. My sweet toddler developed appellations such as y‘all and fixin to as we gently rebuilt our life together.
Soon, I met a tall, handsome engineer, who was new to town like me. Our ‘dates’ often consisted of pushing the stroller to the park on sunny afternoons or sharing a pizza over episodes of Moonlighting, so I could tuck my baby in at night. We fell in love and were married in my parent’s living room a couple years later. Two more babies followed as did fourteen moves around the country and abroad for my husband’s work. The kids are all grown now and educated and employed, living in different cities. We currently split our time between Maryland and Arizona, opposites in every way — climate, scenery, lifestyle and citizenry.
Life is an interesting adventure, and all along the way, I took more electives, attended dozens of writer’s conferences, and joined writing groups. I moonlighted at a few different publications — sometimes for free — one of which was a literary magazine founded by Francis Ford Coppola in San Francisco where my job was to read submissions from the slush pile and push along the shining stars to the editors. I wrote rejections to budding writers like myself, always with a little note of encouragement because I knew how it felt to have my stories rejected over and over.
The silver lining — I learned about publishing from the inside out and that it’s not personal, and what editors are looking for has everything to do with themes and what will sell. There were hundreds of stories I read during those years more than worthy of publication, but just didn’t fit the needs of that particular magazine. So, word to the wise — never, ever give up. Be steadfast, send your work out and stay strong.
It was in the bay area during the same time that I met my literary agent. I was putting the finishing touches on my debut novel, Restoration, and read a scene aloud at a workshop and then stayed after to speak to the agent leading the group. She became my friend and then my editor and finally — eventually — my agent. She helped me land a small publisher for both Restoration and The Lies We Keep. We recently parted ways after many years, so I’m on my own again and the small publisher has since downsized and although they love my work, anything can happen — in this volatile industry the only thing authors can count on for certain is change.
I tell you all of this, because I’m trying to explain how someone like me, who didn’t follow the traditional path can write novels and get published. There are dozens of options for writers to shepherd their work these days, but one thing most published authors have in common is perseverance. I eventually placed short pieces and articles with small, respected journals and newspapers. And probably naively, I went about writing my novels in the same determined manner, convinced that one day they would find a good home. And they did. Although, I always understood it was a long shot. Oftentimes, the difference between writers who get published and those who don’t is simple, the ones who do — never give up.
Writers who make it to publication also understand and accept that criticism can help define their voice and improve their craft, and the difficult task of revisions and constant rewriting is a critical part of the process.
Write what you know — go out and explore, see the world, live your life and learn from experiences at work and in relationships. Life is an education in and of itself, and anybody who is alive — has a story to tell.
My biggest advice? Tell your story. Someone will buy it. Someday. Somewhere. Somehow.
As for me, I’ll be plugging away on my next novel, writing in coffee shops, and at the kitchen table, and sometimes on planes and in hotel rooms — and I’ll be reading, too — at the library or at home in my favorite chair or at the beach, on my towel while everyone else is out swimming in the ocean.
My name is Caron. I love to write — and oh — I so love to read.