NO: The Road to Yes

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I don’t like taking “no” for an answer but I live with it.  The television business, where I spent 18 years in development and production, doles out a lot of “no’s”.  Is it as easy to write a script as it looks?  No.  Do you get a television job just because you want one?  No.   Getting my first book, CHOCOLATE BLISS, published offered a similar minefield of “no’s”.  “Chocolate books are too narrow and don’t sell well enough for us to buy one,” several publishers said.  Some of the others said, “The market is flooded with chocolate books and we already have one on our list.”  Hmmmm.  How can this be true?  How can chocolate books be so unpopular that nobody wants one and so successful that everybody has one?  You can find a million people to tell you no.   All the no’s of the CHOCOLATE BLISS project paved the road to yes.  I knew in my heart that people like chocolate books because it’s probably the most popular flavor in the world and people who like it don’t get tired of reading about it.  In a word, it is a classic.   I also knew that despite the crowded marketplace, nobody else had written a book like mine because I had read every book on chocolate and still did not find my vision expressed.  After a long haul with a publisher who was addicted to the word “maybe”….a condition we call “development hell” in the entertainment business….I found a publisher that not only wanted a chocolate book but connected with my vision.  CHOCOLATE BLISS combines my intrigue with chocolate’s origins and flavor offerings with the publisher’s objective for a book that emphasizes chocolate and health.  We both made compromises, and the end result is a gifty, eco-friendly celebration of chocolate’s culture and health benefits.  Its recipes are for the home cook with lots of shopping tips and info bytes on chocolate’s many fascinating facets.   I am thrilled with this book, and I also observe that any of the many “no’s” I got could have knocked me off the path to it.   I think there are times in life where we must accept no for an answer, but some projects, especially books we are determined to write, have their own life-force and are hard to ignore.  All the “no’s” got my thinking more refined, my mission more aggressive and my strategic determination peaked.  The “no’s” got me to the right publisher with the right concept at the right time. I might hit another round of “no’s” on my next book, VANILLA BLISS.  Right now, I’m at a “maybe”.  If I hear the dreaded two letter word, I’ll let it fall to my feet, step on it so hard as to grind it up, and it will become my little stepping stone on the way to blissful “yes”

 

Photo of Yin Yang Cookies by Jennifer Martine, CHOCOLATE BLISS (Random House/Celestial Arts, 2009)

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