Friday, July 20, 2012

Yes and No

The legend* goes like this: John Lennon met Yoko Ono at a gallery that was exhibiting her artwork. One of her pieces was a canvas that was mounted on the ceiling. One tiny word was written on it. To read the word, one had to climb the ladder and then use an attached magnifying glass. John did. The word was 'yes.'

Later on, John said that if the word had been "no," or something negative like he had expected, he would have thought nothing of it. But something about the blatant positivity struck a chord with him. He had to meet the artist responsible.

Sometimes I feel like being in the publishing world is like climbing a million ladders only to find the word "no," written at the top of each one. Sometimes it's a little more elaborate: "Maybe but…probably not." "Interesting idea but…it'll never sell." "What in the name of god's good green earth is that drivel?!" [That last one might be more of an inner monologue thing.]

It can get frustrating at best. Downright heartbreaking at worst.

But then, the beauty of it too is that there is always one more ladder to climb. One more idea to try. One more agent to query. One more revision to make.

And sometimes, just when you least expect it, you trudge up those steps and find that one word: "yes."

And you know what? Not only is it all the sweeter because of all the nos that came before it, but you learn to appreciate the littlest yeses too. Yes, that agent wants a partial! Or yes, my book is in my local bookstore! Or yes, a 9-year-old just wrote me a fan email!

Just for today, I'm going to put aside all the nos and take a long look at all the yeses in my life. Would you consider doing the same? And if so, how about you share your yeses with me in the comments section!

*There is debate about to whether that's really how they met but it's a story that always stuck a chord with me anyway, whether it's completely true or not.


  1. Beautiful post!!

    When the nos get too overwhelming for me, I just look at my amazing friends and family and say "yes, these people think I'm something special."

  2. Some people might call us eternal optimists. Others would label us suckers for punishment. We definitely need persistence when searching for the elusive "yes" in publishing.

    The yeses in my life are always there and each day I try to be thankful for at least one of them, be it something as small as the unexpected sound of wind-chimes or something a bit larger, like winning a blog contest ;-). Then there are the great things that happen to members of my family that are a big shot of YES in my life. They make me very happy.

    Being grateful for things, having an "attitude of gratitude," tends to increase my ability to see a "yes" when it happens. And getting a fan letter from a nine-year old? That's an awesome yes. Congratulations.

  3. Thank you for that blog post. I really enjoyed reading your blog today. The thought that there is a little "yes" out there somewhere for me and maybe I'm not close enough to see it yet but it's still there -- that what's going to keep me climbing the ladder today. Nice story.

  4. I really like that story, and I really love The Beatles. I have a little 'Yes' moment every time I get a book for review. It makes me feel like someone out there appreciates what I'm doing. :)

    1. I certainly do! Your reviews are thoughtful and articulate. And as someone who used to write movie reviews, I know that is much harder to do than it looks!

  5. What a lovely blog post. I like to think about my amazing & talented friends - and the times when I ask them to do little things like hang out on a Friday night, to big things, like stand with me at the altar when I get married, how happy it makes me every time they say Yes :)