In the autobiographical, Playing It by Heart: Taking Care of Yourself No Matter What Author Melody Beattie tells her story from herdays as an addict, through her recovery and eventual success as an author.
Beattie was a struggling single parent of two children, freelance author, and journalist cranking out stories for a small-town daily newspaper in 1986 when she came up with a book idea. She wanted to write a book about what happens to people when they love someone who is addicted to alcohol and other drugs. “There were many books out there about how to help an addict or alcoholic. Nobody was talking about how an addict impacts the lives of the people around him or her, and how crazy you can become when you love someone who is addicted,” Beattie said. “Even though I was sober, I didn’t know how crazy I could get until it happened to me.” Twenty publishers turned down Beattie’s book proposal. “It’s a good idea, but we don’t think there’s that many codependents out there,” they wrote back. Hazelden, however, a treatment center and recovery publisher based in Minnesota, saw a need for the book. The publisher understood how families of alcoholics suffer and believed Beattie’s book idea would help people. Beattie marched to the welfare department, asked for enough financial help to make it through the three months it would take her to write the book, then locked herself in a basement office and cranked out Codependent No More. Codependent No More has now sold 3.5 million copies. Beattie has since written nine more books, five for major publishing houses on the east and west coasts. She relocated from Minnesota to California, and she has long-since paid back the welfare department.