It’s dangerous to ask me to weigh in on goals.
I spent an entire summer of my late teenage years, when not at work, haunting the self-improvement non-fiction section of the Washoe County Public Library, like a obsessed revenant with self-image problems.
That vast pile of books taught that goals should be specific, measurable, and susceptible to being achieved in a binary yes/no fashion.
Which is, of course, a colossal lie.
As the Little Prince explained, “It is only with the heart that one can see truly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Not everything important can be measured with numbers, and sometimes progress is a small shift, but still monumental.
Feelings are important, even you can’t see them from a distance.
Last January, I blogged that in 2018 I wanted to write with more courage.
Courage is the most contagious of human virtues. When we see someone acting with courage, it expands our menu of the possible—inspires us to join them in being brave.
In these dark times, our country needs courage—a willingness to stand up to misused power, to protect the vulnerable, to take principled stands to preserve our surprisingly fragile institution of the rule of law.
But when I look at my creative work this year, I didn’t write with courage. I didn’t take enough risk.
I wrote careful, crabbed, slow drafts, instead of surfing the wild wave of something bigger moving underneath.
I’m going to try to do better, write braver, this coming year.
Of course, it’s not as easy as just deciding that. (At one level, it’s like saying, “I plan to be more spontaneous.”) But I plan to write more, to write early in the morning before my harsh inner critic is fully awake, and to play with drafting alternate “just for fun” ways to tell the story, including out-takes from other characters’ point of view that may never appear in the novel.
I hope to live a little braver too. To live more courageously, though, I’ll need to face what I’m afraid of:
Which, dear reader, would be you.
I have more than a touch of PTSD from childhood, and what I’m most afraid of is people. You are unpredictable and potentially dangerous, especially the closer you get.
But I’m going to try to live a little more connected this year, a little less surrounded by a moat. We’ll see how that goes.
Wish me luck.
Dean Gloster received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in July 2017. He is a former stand-up comedian and a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. His debut YA novel DESSERT FIRST is out now from Merit Press/Simon Pulse. School Library Journal called it “a sweet, sorrowful, and simply divine debut novel that teens will be sinking their teeth into. This wonderful story…will be a hit with fans of John Green's and Jesse Andrews's .” Dean is on Twitter: @deangloster