Conscious Dating: The Book That Wrote Itself
To celebrate the first printing this month of Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today's World, I ask your indulgence as I share some of the journey that brought this book from idea to reality eight years later. In 1997 I was a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice burning out on working with couples on the verge of divorce. I discovered the emerging field of personal/life coaching and became excited about applying coaching to relationships. In trying to figure out how to do this I had an epiphany- SINGLES BECOME COUPLES! In my twenty years as a therapist on a mission to lower the divorce rate, it had never occurred to me to work with singles. I knew very little about how singles could successfully find their life partner, so I started reading all the self-help books I could find on the subject. I was appalled at how much bad and misguided advice for singles that I found. It seemed that most books for singles were written by lay people (non-relationship professionals) that narrowly focused on "hooking up" (how to flirt, how to "get" a man, etc) and had little to offer about how singles could find and have a successful, sustainable, and fulfilling relationship. So, I scratched my head, sat down with a legal pad, and asked myself "What do singles need to know and do to find their life partner?" Starting literally from a blank slate, drawing upon my own life, my training as a therapist and coach, and my years of experience specializing in relationships, I started mapping out some disconnected concepts and ideas such as: ' Need to start with a Vision
Must be clear about life purpose
Make relationship choices aligned with Requirements, Needs, and Wants
Dating Traps- ways that singles set themselves up for failure
Attraction Venues- the people you meet depends upon where you meet them
Need a Relationship Plan- "when you fail to plan, you plan to fail"
Need to be self-aware, conscious, and informed about relationships
Four steps to finding your life partner- scouting, sorting, screening, and testing
More than one kind of dating relationship- recreational, committed, "mini-marriage"
Whew! My creative juices were flowing, and before I knew it I had written a transcript and went to a recording studio to create a cassette tape to promote my relationship coaching- Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life That You Love. I gave this tape to everyone that came to my weekly singles events (conducted with my new business partner Marvin Cohen), and was astounded by their feedback. They loved it! I heard comments such as "This tape saved my life!" Wow... I figured I was on to something. Many of the concepts and ideas resonated strongly with singles, such as dating traps, requirements, and such, but the one that seemed get the most response was "Be The Chooser." Right then, I knew I had to turn this stuff into a book. How? The prospect was scary- I'd written and published many articles, but I'd never written a book before. So many pages! Then I thought, "Well, a book is not going to lower the divorce rate by itself. Singles really need coaching and support to make effective choices." Then I had a blasphemous thought for a budding author- "If you could 'get it' from a book, the world's problems would be solved!" So I rationalized that I didn't need to write a book, and instead used these concepts and ideas to create a "Relationship Success Training for Singles" (RESTS) and started offering classes, workshops, and individual coaching using this step-by-step program. Other professionals liked what I was doing and I got the idea to train and license them to use this program, which led to Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI). As I trained more and more of my colleagues in using the RESTS program with singles, and Marvin and I continued our work with singles locally, I received lots of feedback and ideas for refinement. After working with the original RESTS program for a couple of years, Marvin and I collaborated on a revised edition (which earned him co-author credit) and then again a few years later yet another revised edition. My master plan was to make relationship coaching as ubiquitous as McDonald's by training and licensing my fellow therapists and coaches all over the world through Relationship Coaching Institute. But it became clear that if I really wanted to lower the divorce rate, a book would reach more people than I was able. Overwhelmed at the idea of putting all these ideas into a coherent book, I asked around for referrals and hired Cindy Barrilleaux and Garry Cooper to help me put together a book proposal, which ended up being a two year project due to my juggling my practice, RCI, and other projects, such as a side trip into helping RCI coaches build successful practices by developing two practice building programs and writing two books on practice-building. Then, I needed to find an agent. Again, with juggling my commitments, this ended up being a two year process. My initial excitement about finally landing a high-powered New York agent fizzled out quickly when the agent stopped returning my calls after the book was rejected by ten publishers. The feedback from the publishers was mostly complimentary about the content of the book, but pessimistic about its prospects in a marketplace "saturated" by other books for singles. I knew this book was different and needed, but they didn't get it, and my agent apparently gave up trying, so I let her go and decided to self-publish. So, about half the book was written in the form of the book proposal, and I needed to buckle down and write the other half. I had high ambitions for this book to be a best seller and wanted it to be fun and enjoyable to read as well as informative. After reading "One Minute Millionaire" and getting caught up in the story that illustrated the concepts, I decided to include stories of real singles that have used the RESTS program to help them find their life partner. However, I knew my limits- I was not a story-writer! After reviewing more than 50 applicants (lots of hungry writers out there!) and interviewing ten finalists, I hired Rachel Sarah. Rachel and I worked together for (yet again!) two years. First finding and interviewing singles who graduated the RESTS program, then working through all 16 chapters one at a time to weave the stories throughout the book and flesh out the content of each chapter. We developed a routine where she would interview me and write a draft, then I would edit her draft and add to it until I was satisfied with the chapter, then move to the next chapter. In addition to doing a great job writing up the stories of the singles we chose to feature in the book, Rachel was great in helping me to continue forward momentum while I was (still!) juggling all my other commitments. To sum up, here is an approximate timeline-
1997-Present: Design and test concepts with Marvin Cohen and RCI coaches
1999-2000: Write proposal with Cindy Barrilleaux and Garry Cooper
2001-2002: Get agent, crash and burn, decide to self-publish
2003-2005: Finish writing with Rachel Sarah, get self-publishing guidance (Jim Donovan), hire editor (Melanie Rigney) and designers (Cathi Stevenson and Judi Lake), decide upon printer and fulfillment house (Fidlar-Doubleday) and publish! As you can see, it's been a long journey and I've had lots of help.
How did this book write itself? Well, I did put a lot of writing and work into this book project, but it seemed to write itself because-
1. I had the help and support of talented people who believed in this book project
2. My passion and commitment to this project provided plenty of energy and motivation
3. Through RCI I had solid experience with singles testing the ideas in the book, and training/collaborating with many other professionals
It seemed like I was more of a sculptor chipping away to allow the book to take its own shape, rather than an author writing a book from scratch or a painter starting with a blank canvas. So this month, October 2005, I'm celebrating the completion of an eight-year journey, grateful to be blessed with this mission, hopeful this book will make a significant contribution in helping singles find their life partner and lower the divorce rate; and as I work with my publicist Penny Sansevieri, I'm very aware that my commitment to the success of this book is just beginning. And you know what? It's a good book! I enjoy reading it, especially the stories, which really bring the material to life. I'm not too macho to admit that I get choked up every time I read the way the stories end in the epilogue. It's especially poignant for me because I know these singles having interviewed them, and it feels wonderful that the strategies in this book really made a difference in helping them finding their life partner and live a fulfilling life. It's not often in the helping profession that we get to learn the results of our work a year or more later, and to really know that our support actually had a successful outcome down the road for our clients. Enjoy the book!
About The Author
David Steele is a marriage and family therapist who has helped thousands of singles and couples get what they want from a relationship.