I used to think I was brave.
Yes. That brave.
But late in life I discovered that I just have a counter-phobic mechanism: From a complicated childhood I wrote about here, I have some PTSD, and one of the ways I deal with it, because I don't like feeling vulnerable or frightened, is that I seek out experiences where I can master fear. It’s like doing mental sit-ups to get in shape for some future mental stomach punch.
Some experiences are especially helpful, if you have a high enthusiasm-to-skill ratio
But, of course, those are little fears I try to master. I definitely don’t move toward the big thing I fear the most.
People scare me, especially if they get close--emotionally close. Again, from my youth, it's one of the things I carry: People you care about can hurt you in profound ways that strangers cannot.
When he was dying, I thanked my dad for hanging in there long enough so that we could all say goodbye.
I want to be different than my father, despite my hardwiring to be exactly like him. That’s one of the reasons I gave up the secure career of the law for the economically skinny and uncertain one of being a writer: Writing, done right, moves us toward vulnerability and authenticity.
But there’s also the actual people thing. It's difficult to connect with people, especially as a writer who sits at a computer all day, during a pandemic where we mostly don't get together face to face with people anymore, but I'm working on it.
I have writer friends now, and we have a lot in common, all (as my friend Jay Cherrie once said in an Imitation Hemmingway contest) wrestling with the white bull that is the blank paper with no words on it.
And I have new Aikido friends. We joke, we attack each other, we get thrown around, and we get ibuprofen afterward. As, you know, one does.
I have a ways to go, probably on both those fronts, but I'm making some progress. We'll shall see.
Dean Gloster 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 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 The Fault in Our Stars and Jesse Andrews's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” His current novel, JUST DEAL, is about two funny brothers who have to team up with their friend Claire to save the world. It has the usual Dean Gloster novel ingredients: Death, humor, the question of whether it’s possible to save someone, a love interest to root for, dysfunctional parenting, and an off-kilter sensibility, including a mergers and acquisitions lawyer dad who is missing 54 percent of his soul.