(Not So) Regretfully Yours, By Dean Gloster

             I don’t spend a lot of time in the land of regrets.


            Life is to be lived forward. My brother Mark often uses the analogy of golf: We have to concentrate on what’s in front of us, and how to get the ball closer to the hole, based on where it is now—not based on where we wish it was after the prior swing of the club.


            But this month, here on YA Outside the Lines, we’re writing about regrets. It turns out some people have studied those much more extensively. Daniel H. Pink, author of The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, surveyed thousands of messages from people about their regrets and found some interesting patterns.


            First, our regrets about inaction—what we didn’t do—vastly outnumber our regrets about actions—what we did do—about 2 to 1, and this ratio increases as we age. Pink categorizes these as “boldness regrets”. People wish they had done things, tried things, acted more boldly.


The lady or the tiger? Life is about choices

            Second, another huge category of regrets is about connection: Whom we didn’t reach out to, whom we didn’t stay in touch with, whom we didn’t make the effort to connect with.

            Pink says it’s important to note our regrets (and to talk to ourselves compassionately about them) and then to use those to live life more constructively going forward.


We do, technically, end up in the hole in the ground.

            Me? I have to finish these books I’m writing, and I’ve always wanted to teach, so I’ll look into teaching a class in writing the YA novel. And next month on YA Outside the Lines, I plan to interview my friend, novelist and writer Martha Brockenbrough for you all.

            I don’t want, later, to regret not having done that.


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 YA short story “Death’s Adopted Daughter” is in the anthology Spoon Knife 6: Rest Stop from Autonomous Press, and his YA short story, “Proof of the Existence of Dog” is now out in the anthology Spoon Knife 7: Transitions. He is at work on two more YA novels, one in draft and the other in revision, and is researching a nonfiction book. He doesn’t regret any of that, but does wish he was a faster writer.



  1. Oh, man, I'm looking forward to that interview--and find that to be so true about regret.


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