When Women Writers, Women’s Books suggested that I should do another blog I was cautious. What should the subject be? Perhaps I could write on the pleasure of getting an option for a three part TV series for my novel Burnt Norton, but there are many options taken out each year on many books.
Some of the options get taken up and are made into that wonderful series or film, and others stay on the table causing much disappointment. Some books are treated with sensitivity, and the final film is true to the original, while in others, the book, your baby, has changed beyond recognition.
No I must not write about this, for though I hope that quite soon Burnt Norton will be a glorious adaption on Sunday night TV, I must not tempt fate and relegate it to a sad script that languishes eternally on the producer’s table.
Another option for this blog was to show how my own personal experiences have influenced my writing.
I believe and hope I speak for authors generally, that much of our writing is shaped by our own lives. Most of us have known triumph and tragedy, and I have had my share of both. I am not sure that I want to do a blog on my lost baby son Charlie. He is immortalized in Burnt Norton and for me that is enough.
No, I have found my subject. I am going to tell you the truth about my experiences of getting my first novel to the bookshelf. It would be a lie to say it has been easy and always exciting. It has actually been a journey of highs and lows and that journey continues. Perhaps some authors have that rare confidence that gives them the ability to focus, knowing their work is brilliant, for most it is not like that.
Once a month I meet with two other writers, and we call it our A.A for authors group. One of us has had at least six novels successfully published, but she had ground to an emotional standstill, unable to put pen to paper.
She is now writing again and I would like to think our support has helped. Another is an ex policewoman with an extraordinary insight into people’s minds. She will soon be on the best-seller list, I am sure of it.
Our meetings are something we all look forward to, because not only are we friends with the same goals, but we are able to understand the loneliness and insecurity of writing. These insecurities are usually the same: are we any good? Are we writing something people may want to read, and after all the sweat, pain and excitement, will our books get sold?
It is a bit like a roller coaster, one minute you are thrilled because you have been booked to do a radio appearance, the next you have sunk to an all time low because your book has been rejected by a publisher and you are not sure if it is good enough anyway.
There are of course wonderful, incredible moments. When Sheila Crowley from Curtis Brown rang me to tell me she loved my book and wanted to represent me–I was actually up a ladder hanging curtains for a client. (I am also an interior designer.) My tears ran over the cream linen fabric, not ideal for my client but a great moment for me!
I remember when she rang me to say that Head of Zeus wanted to publish my book, and I remember that marvelous moment at the launch when my books were stacked on the table and I was doing my first signing!
But there were other moments when I read a review on Amazon that was really unkind. No one had prepared me for the hurt. It is after all so utterly personal. Emma Fellowes told me that she still takes Julian’s reviews away so that he can’t see them, unless of course they are glowing…
Writers on the whole are an emotionally unstable bunch, always at the mercy of the reader.
Read Caroline’s post on the research involving Burnt Norton here
About Caroline’s Novel Burnt Norton:
Gloucestershire, 1731. When his youngest son is killed in a tragic accident, Sir William Keyt, master of Norton House, busies himself in his fortune. The building of a second mansion in his grounds defies expense and denies mortality; an emblem of the Keyt name for generations to come. 1741 his beautiful new mansion becomes his funeral pyre.
Caroline Sandon won her first national poetry competition at the age of ten, and from that moment dreamt of being a writer. At eighteen she began a law degree and only a year later got married. She left the law to become a model in the fashion industry and a few years later she gave up modeling to devote more time to her children and to become an interior designer.
Fifteen years ago she moved with her husband and seven children and stepchildren to Burnt Norton. With the children growing up, Caroline had at last the time and the material to write her first novel, Burnt Norton.