A Mom-Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s fall! It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes salted caramel hot chocolates and hoodies and football and soon it will be time for my favorite November activity… National Novel Writing Month!

NaNoWriMo 2015 writing buddy

For those not familiar, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to spend the month of November writing a 50,000-word novel. It’s crazy, but it’s not impossible. I think I first participated in (and won!) NaNoWriMo in 2005. Or 2006? I’ve done NaNo several times over the years. Some years I’ve “won” and some years I haven’t. The thing is, even if I didn’t cross the 50K finish line, I still eventually finished the book, no matter what was going on in my life. In 2012, I wrote book number three while going through a divorce and living with my parents. In 2015, I wrote book number four with a 6-month old baby, while also doing a ton of freelance writing. In 2017, I was back at it and somehow managed to write my 50,000 words… while taking my first grad school class at Harvard EXT. With a two and a half-year old. I ended up finishing book number five (almost 94,000 words!) in January of 2018.

And then I did something really crazy. I decided to do my own personal NaNoWriMo of sorts in June/July of 2018. I had an idea for another story, but I was taking two spring classes and already had a class lined up for the summer, so I only had this teeny-tiny window of a couple weeks where I wasn’t going to have any schoolwork. I started planning the story in the spring, and then once my classes ended, I started writing! I budgeted out my time to finish my story by the end of July, giving me two months to write book number six. I hit this weird post-vacation motivation slump but still managed to finish (all 75,000 words!) the night of August 2nd… just a couple days later than I expected.

So… that means in less than a year (five months, actually) I wrote not one, but two books. 169,000 words. (Enough to “win” 3 NaNoWriMos!) Not to mention two literary analysis papers, 4 short stories, and three feature assignments for my classes. Plus all my MotherHustle posts. Plus who knows what else I wrote and sent out into the universe.

And I have a three-year-old, y’all.

So how do you do it? How do you balance work/school, a kid, your home life, and still bang out 50,000 words in 30 days? I’ll tell you what worked for me:

Plan ahead. Okay, so I know there are some “pantsers” out there who prefer to write by the seat of their pants, and if that’s you, then that’s cool. For me, I like to at least have the skeleton of my story figured out so that I know who my characters are and what my big events are. Some people use index cards and post it notes and fancy planners to do their outline or their story map or whatever you want to call it… I just prefer treating myself to a brand-new notebook or legal pad and writing out my story in scenes or blocks.

I’ll jot down a couple sentences about each scene just to kind of figure out where my story is going. I really don’t spend a whole lot of time on these; it’s literally just meant to be a quick “what happens first?” “then what happens?” “then what happens?” “then what happens?” kind of exercise. Of course I might move things around and draw arrows or add notes of things I want to be sure to include when I get to that scene.

When I start writing, I keep the notebook next to me and use it to keep track of where I am. As I’m writing, I add in all my details and dialogue. If my notebook is the skeleton and the bones, this is where I start to add the flesh and muscle of the story. Plus, I like a to-do list, so when I finish with a scene, I can cross that baby off or scribble it out.

Make time to write every day. There’s really only one way to do this, and that’s to sit down and spend the time writing. There are some people that can do these marathon writing sessions where they pound out 12,000 words in a day, but what mom has that kind of time? The thing is, you can still reach the magic number by writing a little bit at a time. It all adds up. Just find the time that works for you.

For me, I usually write around my son’s nap time. I am NOT a morning person, so I can’t set my alarm for an hour earlier and sit down at my desk and expect to churn out anything coherent. In the same token, I am also not really a night owl, either, because usually, after the kid goes to bed, I’m so depleted that I just need to veg out for a little bit and either read or watch Netflix. Hell, sometimes I just go to bed right after we put the kid down.

So nap time usually works best for me. It’s the middle of the day. I’ve gotten to the point where I need some kid-free time and he’s upstairs and out of my hair. I have two (mostly uninterrupted) hours where I can give 100% of my attention to my work. He’s also in preschool three days a week now, so that buys me 9 extra hours a week! This fall, that will probably all be spent on classwork, but see what I mean? You can find time.

And if you REALLY want to do this, but still aren’t convinced you’ll have the time… think about things that you could cut back on. Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? Do you kill a lot of time on your phone looking at social media? Could you plan your day differently so that when you do have some kid-free time, you can use it all for writing? I’m a big multi-tasker. I will empty the dishwasher and fold the laundry while dinner is cooking in the oven if it means that I can steal half an hour to write while my husband does the kid’s bath time, ya know what I mean? You do what you gotta do, mama.

It’s about numbers as much as it is about words. To write 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words a day. Some days, 2,000 words would flow from my brain, through my hands, and into my document like it was nothing. Then there were days where I would sit there and stare at the same paragraph over and over again, check Twitter, go back to my paragraph, and then realize that nap time was over and I hadn’t really gotten anywhere. I forgave myself for those off days and told myself I’d have to make up the difference the next day, or spread it out over the next couple days. So, like, if I only wrote 1,000 words, I’d tell myself that to make up for the 667 I didn’t get to, I’d either have to write 2,000 words the next two days, or else just knock it all out at once and write 2,300. I hate math, but it really helped me because instead of focusing on how far behind I’d fall, I’d think of it as only adding a couple hundred words to the next day.

Just get it out. This is not the time to make your story perfect. If you spend a lot of time going back and editing as you’re writing, you’re not going to get anywhere. NaNoWriMo is just meant to be a first draft. NaNoEdMo is for editing.

Find your tribe. A support system is everything. There will be some people in your life who think you are absolutely bonkers for attempting something like this. Your toddler will not understand that you have twelve days left in the month to write 20,000 words. You may doubt your ability. You will likely question your own sanity.

But you’re not alone! If you look anywhere on social media, the #NaNoWriMo crowd is full of writers who are ready to cheer you on. In my experience, the writers I follow are already extremely helpful and supportive, but I love Twitter at NaNo time because everybody becomes so vocal in their encouragement. All of a sudden, you feel like you have a boatload of strangers rooting for you. Plus it’s kind of nice to know that there are people out there who are just as crazy as you are.

What do you do when you’re done? You celebrate like crazy, and then, if your story isn’t complete at 50,000 words… you finish it! The post-NaNo crash can be hard, because the next thing you know, the winter holidays are upon you and yunnamedou’re traveling and visiting family and decorating the house and making New Year’s Resolutions… In the middle of all that joy and merrymaking, it can be tempting to take a little break from writing. If you do, that’s fine, but don’t forget to finish what you started!

The 50K I wrote my first year of NaNo eventually became the first book I self-published, Here We Go. Here We Go (and my second book, The One Who Got Away) eventually went on to hang out on the Amazon bestseller list for a little while (even with that awful cover!) alongside authors like Debbie Macomber and Emily Giffin. To this day, I’m still baffled that something I set out to write just for fun ended up doing that.

It took me awhile to finish Here We Go because I lost the entire manuscript when my computer died. I didn’t have the story backed up anywhere. All I had was a printed-out copy. I had to write the entire thing all over again. But because I’d survived that NaNoWriMo, I was determined to finish that damn book.

LESSON LEARNED: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK.

The One Who Got Away took less time. The third book took even less. And so on. Even though I might have gotten busier, even though I may have had other things going on. Because the more I wrote, the better I got about making and managing my time. And now that I have a kid in preschool and am taking my own classes, you better believe I am all about using every spare second I can grab.

So when NaNoWriMo ends on November 30th, whether you’re a winner, or you hit 50K but your story isn’t done yet, or you just didn’t make it across the finish line…

Keep going. Don’t give up!

Let me know if I can help! I will be cheering for you ON TWITTER!

I’m a Good Mom

The other day was our first MOPS meeting of the year. We had a fabulous brunch as always and I got to catch up with ladies I hadn’t seen in awhile. We also spent some time chatting, playing games, and doing icebreaker activities to get to know our new members.

One of our activities involved revealing two things we’re good at and/or passionate about. The question came around to me, and the easy, obvious answer was writing… I just plain love it. I think I’m good at it. I mean, I’m certainly an okay writer. I’ll admit that I’m not perfect. I get that writing is work and I’m not afraid to make my writing better. I’m ambitious about writing. I put myself out there.

Then I had to think of a second thing.

Man, it’s really hard to come up with something you think you’re good at on the spot.

Cooking? Eh, I can follow recipes. Baking? That’s my husband’s department. I’m SO not crafty. I’m not organized. I’m not a good housekeeper. I’m a horrible singer. I have no musical ability. I don’t really do anything else. What do I do?momsonharvardshirts

WHAT ELSE AM I GOOD AT?!

And then I blurted it out.

“I’m a good mom.”

The second I said it, I thought… Girl… What are you even talking about?

When I was pregnant, being pregnant didn’t bother me. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I had gained 25 pounds and had a baby kicking me in the ribs while pinching my bladder in half. I didn’t care that he had hiccups constantly. I didn’t even mind that he was a super-active baby. I may have wondered how his elbows didn’t poke clear through my skin as he tumbled around in there, but I was just plain fascinated by the fact that that was my kid in there. Amazing!

I wasn’t even really worried about giving birth. Yeah, there were some parts of the process that made me cringe during childbirth class. Like, I told my husband whatever he did, not to Google “episiotomy.” There were some parts that I was nervous about, but being nervous wasn’t going to change the fact that the baby had to come out one way or another, so… I figured stressing about it wasn’t going to do any good and told myself that when the time came, everything would be just fine.

But there was ONE THING that scared me about becoming a mom. And no book, blog, or class was going to help me overcome that fear.

I was absolutely terrified that I was going to have this baby and not have any idea what to do with him. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to take care of him. I was afraid that I would be absolutely clueless. I was afraid I’d do something wrong. I was afraid I’d hurt him. I was afraid I’d mess up. I was just plain afraid I wouldn’t be good at being a mom.

I think it was our first night home from the hospital, and my husband and I had been camped out in the living room together (I’d had an emergency C-section and it was just easier to sleep on the couch) with the baby in the bassinet. Around midnight, the little guy woke up crying hysterically. The first real pissed-off baby cries we’d heard him make. And I felt awful. No idea what caused him to cry, no idea what to do about it. Nursed him. Changed his diaper. We took turns holding him, rocking him, walking around the house, all that stuff. And then finally I sat with him and started to sing.

I said above, I’m an awful singer. But I sang “Hush Little Baby” because it seemed like the thing to do. The baby started to quiet down. After a couple verses, I forgot the words so I abandoned that and searched my memory for another lullaby. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” it was. When that was over, the only other thing song I could think of to sing was the ABCs. By the time I got to “L-M-N-O-P” the baby was asleep in my arms and I thought, deliriously, “I did it! I did it! I’m his mommy and I got him to calm down!”

I was so new to the whole motherhood thing, but that night, I understood immediately that it was my job to do whatever I had to do to calm his fears, stop his tears, and make him happy.

And I think that’s what we do as moms all the time. Whatever the problem is, we try one thing and if that doesn’t work, we try the next and the next, until we find the solution. We work tirelessly to make sure our kids are taken care of.

And just when we think we have everything figured out, the kids grow a little more and all that changes. We have to figure everything out all over again. My boy is still little, but I’ve been at this long enough now to know that every new stage presents itself with unique challenges.

For me, the baby stage was full of sleepless nights… Long after the baby was sleeping through the night, I struggled to get to sleep. And stay asleep. I was exhausted. Because I was constantly worrying about him. Was he eating enough? Sleeping enough? Was he teething? Was it a growth spurt? Was it a developmental leap?

Now that he’s a toddler, I still worry about him, but I sleep like a rock. I need all the energy I can get to keep up with him. I think I might be more tired now than I was when he was a newborn. I didn’t even think that was possible.

When he started his playgroup at 16 months old, even though it was just one day a week, I had to tell myself that it was good that he was getting out of the house and playing with other kids without me around. I had to remind myself that it was good for me, too. But that first day, I had to go to the store and run errands because it was weird being in the house without him. It was too quiet.

This year, he started preschool three days a week and walked right into his classroom without so much as a backwards glance. And as much as I wanted to follow him in and give him a big hug and a kiss, he was already all the way across the room, checking stuff out on the bookshelf and peeking out the window. So I gave him a wave from the doorway and left. I had to go to the store and run errands, but this time it was because I had a ton of stuff to do and was elated to have three uninterrupted hours by myself to actually get it all done!

Being a mom is hard. Being a mom who also works, goes to school, or runs a business is even harder. It’s tough to find a balance between all of the different women you’re supposed to be – mom, wife, employee/business owner, student, daughter, sister, friend…

But I think, for me, once I became a mom, it immediately became the most important job I have. And I know, mom friends, that I’m not alone.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be good moms.

Which is why it is SO easy to get down ourselves and point out our flaws and problems and what we think we’re doing wrong or what we think we need to do better.

You don’t cook healthy and organic at every meal. The kid’s not into peewee soccer or lacrosse or gymnastics. They can’t count to 20 yet. You can’t figure out how to get the kid into bed at night without the evening spiraling into epic meltdown. You wish you could just sit and relax while they entertain themselves quietly and contentedly, but you know in five minutes they’re going to need help with something and you can’t help wanting just a few minutes of peaceandquietpleaseisitnaptimeyet? They’re still not potty-trained. You worry about whether or not your kid is getting too much screen time. You struggle with how to balance being firm and having fun. You have no energy to work out, do your makeup, dress cute, or flirt with your husband. The kid down the street is reading and yours doesn’t even know all his ABCs. You can’t get your kid into the classroom without the teacher having to peel her off of you. You compare yourself to other moms and then remind yourself you shouldn’t do that. Repeatedly. You yelled at your kid. And then you probably felt bad about it.

That stuff happens. To everybody. You are so not alone.

IMG_2656In our quest to be good moms, we worry so much that we’re not doing a good enough job that it’s easy to overlook all the stuff we do right! All the stuff that DOES make us good moms.

Am I the best cook? No, but I try to make sure my kid eats reasonably healthy… and he gets dessert, too. Am I gung-ho into activities and sports and lessons? No, but if he appears interested in something, we’ll try it out. Is my kid decked out in adorable outfits every day? No, because he’s probably just gonna paint or jump in a puddle or play in the dirt, so what’s the point?

My kid wakes up and bounces out of bed in a good mood, goes to preschool, takes swimming lessons, plays outside, is into cars, has bad taste in television, loves his family, chases the cats, makes up songs and tells me silly stories, would sit in the tub for two hours if we let him, has a ridiculously long bedtime routine, and goes to bed most nights without much fuss. What’s most important is that he’s healthy and happy.

So I must be doing something right.

I’m a good mom.

And you are, too.

Disconnected

I wrote a post for MotherHustle recently where I talked about how we miss out on so much because we’re too busy looking at our smartphones, and it has really stuck with me. Whether it’s trying to take pictures of the kid or checking my email or Twitter (or Snapchat or Facebook or Instagram!) I was really starting to feel like I was spending too much time on my phone.

So I made some changes; the first being that I deleted Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter from my phone.

Then I went a little further. I started culling through my Facebook friends list, because I realized that off my 500-something “friends” there were several (like, hundreds) of people that I haven’t talked to/interacted with/heard from in ages. So I started deleting.

It became a game. I tried to get my number under 400. Then 300. Then 200. I went through and reeeeeally tried to think about whether or not I would consider myself “friends” with each person. Was I hanging on to a connection out of some sort of obligation? Were we “friends” because we went to elementary school together? Because they’re a friend of my husband’s?

There’s been some research and debate on whether or not you can really be “friends” with everybody on your Facebook list. The way I see it, is I don’t need to “collect” friends if I’m not genuinely interested in or interacting with them. They’re all really great people and I’m willing to bet at some point, our paths will cross IRL again, but I’ve got so much other stuff going on right now that I’d much rather attempt to maintain better online relationships with a smaller group of people than have to weed through a bunch of posts from a whole bunch of people I don’t even really talk to.

And it’s not just Facebook. I’ve had my issues with Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, too. I’ve tweaked my lists and tried to better curate them all. Twitter is mostly for interaction with other writing/reading/blogger/travel peeps. It’s also where I get any form of the news these days. Instagram is for pictures of the kid and cats and the occasional celeb-spotting. And I deleted Snapchat altogether because I was having a hard time bouncing back and forth from one platform of communication to another with the tiny group of people I connected with on there. (Sorry, guys.)

And then, after all that, I’ve still made it a point to try to use my phone less and less throughout the day. It’s a bad habit. It’s definitely an addiction. Our phones are like extra appendages at this point, and it drives me nuts.

I’m trying to limit my screen time and it makes me feel a lot better. Instead of lying in bed first thing in the morning and scrolling through all of my social feeds like I used to do, I get up and go for a walk and listen to a podcast. When my son goes down for his nap, rather than wasting time bouncing from one platform to the next, I have been ignoring my social media mentions and blogging, writing, and doing schoolwork. SHOCKER: I AM GETTING SO MUCH STUFF DONE.

We talk all the time about how busy we are and how we don’t have time to do things, but look at all the time we waste on Facebook and Twitter. Know what I mean?

Anyway… now that I’ve ranted about spending so much time online… I’m going to publish this blog, turn off the laptop, and hide my phone. The kid is going to wake up in an hour and I’ve got homework to do!

Reading: Fledgling – Octavia Butler
Listening: Dear Sugars (podcast)

 

Alone Time

I recently spent the weekend by myself for the first time in I don’t know how long. My husband had to travel for business and suggested that while he was gone, we take our son to the grandparents’ house for a few days since they’d been asking when he could come visit… and then I could get a break.

At first, I thought, no, I don’t need a break! I’m fine! I’m with him every day!

Then I thought, whew, yeah. That might actually be nice.

We drove halfway to my husband’s parents’ house to meet up for lunch and hand off the kid. They were so excited. I was fine until we drove away, and then I was a blubbering mess.

The thing is, our kid is the type of kid who is cool wherever he goes. He totally rolls with the punches. Whenever I drop him off at play school, or his church play group, or the childcare at the co-working space I use, he’s always quick to say “Bye!” and run off and find something to do. So it wasn’t him I was worried about. It was me.

Since becoming a mom, it is strange to suddenly be thrust into solitude.

It wasn’t just my kid that was going to be gone. My husband was leaving, too.

And I had just wrapped up my summer class.

And I had just finished writing book number 6.

Which meant… I really didn’t have anything on my plate.

I mean, I had a to-do list with a zillion little things on it that I’ve been meaning to get around to. Blog posts to write, closets to organize, a dentist appointment, that kind of thing.

So… I checked things off my to-do list. I  stayed up late. I actually managed to sleep in. (If you can call 7:30 sleeping in.) I watched a couple movies… Grown-up movies, not kids’ movies! No animation! No singing! No Nick Jr. this weekend! I did some reading. I wrote some blog posts. I purged old toys and clothes and cleaned and organized. I pulled weeds. I went grocery shopping and wandered around Target. I did some crafty things. I took long walks and long bubble baths and didn’t have to worry about momsonharvardshirtsbeing on anybody’s schedule but my own. Hell, I didn’t have a schedule.

It’s not like I really did anything besides hang out at my house, but I still managed to get a lot done. Even though I didn’t have any major plans, I’m grateful to my husband and in-laws for giving me a few days to myself, even if I didn’t think I needed them. Sometimes you just need to take a break.

But man, it was quiet. And lonely.

I’m glad the kid is back.

Even though I know I’ll be tired of singing the Max and Ruby theme song by the end of the day, and even though I’ll be exhausted come bedtime… It’s good to have him home.

This question’s for the moms…
How do you spend your alone time? That is, when you finally get some?

 

 

Finished!

I was making good progress on book number 6, writing about 2,000 words a day. On Thursday, August 2, after my class ended at 9:30 p.m. I decided it was time to pull an all-nighter. Well, not really an all-nighter. I stayed up til just past midnight to finish the book.

This was probably the most anti-climactic finishing of a book I’ve ever experienced. I think because I was chugging along at such a great pace and didn’t really have much more to write, maybe just a couple thousand words. There was no pot of coffee, I didn’t have to stay up and see the sun rise or anything… it just kind of happened.

That’s how I’ve felt about the last two stories I’ve written. They both came very easily. And now that they’re finished… I don’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t know about other writers, but when I go to bed at night, I’m lying in bed, and I’m picturing the scene I just wrote, or what comes next, and I’m trying to play it all out in my head like a movie… Not that I have a clear picture of who would “play” each character or anything like that. Instead, it’s more like I’m imagining the words I’m going to write.

That sounds strange, right? Instead of picturing the characters doing what I’m going to write about, I’m picturing what the words will look like on the page and how they’ll sound when they’re read.

I’m weird, right? It’s okay, you can tell me I’m weird.

Anyway, now that those books have been set aside for a little while, it’s crazy to go to bed and NOT have the mental keyboard in my head clacking away.

It’s also crazy to actually have time to do other stuff. I’ve got book number 5 to read over and edit, blogs to write, books to read for school next semester, and a zillion little around-the-house tasks on my to-do list.

But for now… I’m just going to do a little happy dance and enjoy the fact that, once again, I somehow managed to arrange 75,000 words into what I hope people with think is a great story.

And then I’m going to go do some laundry. The glamorous life of a writer.

July Update

I swear, I don’t know where the summer went. We spent the first couple weeks of July in Canada, but since we got home, it seems like the rest of the month disappeared.

Canada was great… We stayed in Ottawa and spent a weekend in Montreal. You can read about our adventures there on Go With The Goodwins!

My summer journalism class has been going really well. Only a couple more weeks and I’ll be done! Then I’ll have a month to relax before class starts in September. I’m taking a creative nonfiction writing class and a contemporary literature/music class. SO EXCITED about both. Already started some of my reading for the lit class.

One of my goals for this summer was to finish my work in progress by the end of July. I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to do that and my class. And I don’t know what my problem was, but there were just some days where I had ZERO motivation. None, whatsoever. I don’t know if it was a vacation hangover or what, but it took me awhile to get my butt back in gear. It’s not like it was writer’s block. The whole story is all mapped out… I just did not want to sit down in front of the computer.

But I finally got over it. How? I just sat down and made myself write. I did 1,300 words one day and then 1,500 the next. Then I figured out if I do 2,000 words a day, I might be able to finish by the first weekend of August and for some reason, I kind of stuck with it. I’ve been doing 2K a day ever since, with a couple more productive days thrown in here and there.

Today is July 30th… Don’t think I’ll be finishing the book by tomorrow. And that’s okay.

I thought about pulling an all-nighter this past weekend, which I think is how I finished 2/3 of my last books. I was just so excited to sit down and pound those stories out. Not that I wanted to be done with those stories, but because I was just so happy with how they were going!

If I did that, I probably could’ve finished this book, but this time, I didn’t want to rush things. I guess I am so glad that I got my groove back, I’m trying to enjoy it. After being in such a funk for a few weeks, it’s nice to be humming right along again.

So… stay tuned. I should be done in about a week!

Reading: Veronica – Mary Gaitskill

June Update

Hello from Canada!

We arrived in Ottawa on the 29th and will be staying ’til the 14th. We have already been to the farmer’s market, two museums, a farm, a splash pad, and a hockey tournament, as well as the Canada Day festivities around town!

Summer school started for me last week. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights and I’ll be working on school work all through our vacation. One week down, six more to go! Also, I got my official acceptance letter from school, so that was a proud moment!

accepted

I really did try to work on my summer goals throughout the month of June.

I’m at around 42,000 words on the novel I’m working on, still hoping to finish near the end of July. Fingers crossed… Since getting to Ottawa, it’s been hard finding the time/energy to write! Trying to remember that I am on vacation, after all!

I’ve done a lot of reading. I had more than one book going at once, something I don’t normally like to do. I finished all three of the memoirs that I was reading and am currently working on All The Light We Cannot See – and am completely sucked in. I’m amazed at how the different POVs and timelines weave in and out throughout the story.

I did cheat a little bit… I said I wasn’t going to binge-watch any TV or anything but then I saw that the last season of The Ranch was on Netflix. Oops. The shows are short, only 20-30 minutes, so at least it didn’t take me long!

I’ve also been pretty good about getting up early in the morning to go walking. I’ve dropped a couple pounds but it always seems to find its way back. There are lots of trails and parks around where we’re staying in Ottawa so I’ve been exploring; don’t think I’ve walked the same route yet. But man, has it been hot here! Some of the hottest temps ever on record for Ottawa!

I’ve been working on Go With The Goodwins and added some posts about our trip to Canada. So far we’ve done several of the things on my little bucket list.

Also! I have some exciting news! I have been asked to join MotherHustle as a regular panelist. I’m so excited because I have written several posts for MotherHustle and I love everything that the community stands for! If you’re a creative mom, you need to check it out!

Reading: All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Hello, summer!

I love school but am so excited to have time off in between classes to work on some non-school projects and other fun stuff. But right now, I’m kind of all over the place!

I recently wrote a piece about my definition of success and submitted it to MotherHustle. My idea of success is pretty loose – it’s basically keep trying, keep learning, and don’t give up. But it really got me thinking about what I want to DO.

So, here’s what I’d like to do this summer, both in terms of writing goals and other goals.

1. I’m trying to get better about regularly updating this blog and my family travel blog.

2. I’d like to finish the novel I just started writing. Number 6! I’m writing a little bit every day, trying to get in about 1,000 words every day if I can. I’d like to bump it up to 1,300 or so in July. My goal is to finish by the end of July. My own little #NaNoWriMo… or #NaNoWri-TWO-Mo.

3. I’d like to finish all the books I am currently reading. And not start any new ones unless I finish all of those. Or I have to read them for school. That means I need to finish:

At Home In The World by Joyce Maynard (I did just read/finish Domestic Affairs!)
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Talking as Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
With Or Without You by Domenica Ruta

I’m sure once the fall semester starts, I’ll have lots of reading to keep me busy again. I couldn’t help it; I got so excited at the idea of being able to read for fun that I dove right in to ALL. THE. BOOKS. 3 of the 4 are memoirs because that’s what I’m considering doing for my thesis. Plus I’d been meaning to read the Anthony Doerr book and it was on an early syllabus for one of my spring classes so I grabbed it and never had the chance to read it until now.

3 1/2. I will celebrate finishing novel #6 and reading my 4 books by binge-watching Season 6 of Orange is the New Black when it comes out. Until then, I will try to stay away from Netflix and any other on demand TV. (I’m all caught up on Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, 13 Reasons Why, and I don’t think I watch anything else, so I don’t really have anything to tempt me!)

4. When I finish writing novel #6, I plan on revisiting and revising novel #5. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it and see what I really need to work on. (Which is also totally making me look at #6 a little more critically as I go.)

5. And on top of all that, I’m trying to balance out all the sitting on my butt (reading and writing) with walking a little bit every day in the hopes of losing a few stupid, stubborn pounds. I finally lost all the baby weight but I wouldn’t mind losing some of the “happily married” extra pounds that I’ve tacked on over the years.

This means getting up SUPER early to go walk before it gets crazy hot. I’m talking 6 o’clock. I have a kid that sleeps until 8, so (1) I consider myself blessed, and (2) Yes, to me, 6 is SUPER early!!! My husband gets up first and goes for HIS walk (which means he gets up even earlier!) then when he gets back, I go for MY walk (husband is home with the kid) and then I usually get back in time to pound out 500-700 words before I have to make pancakes for the kid.

So, there you have it. The 5 things I hope to accomplish sometime this summer.

I better get busy!

 

May Update

The month of May went by pretty quickly! I’m excited to say that I finished my second semester with good grades and started reading for fun, rather than for class discussions! (My summer class starts at the end of June so I’m trying to cram in as much reading as I can!) I also binge-watched the second season of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and have been enjoying Splitting Up Together on ABC.

For Mother’s Day, my husband got me this awesome writer’s planner. It took me a few days to get it all set up, but then I started plotting out novel #6. I also set some mini goals for myself in regards to blogging and my daily word count. Rather than blasting away at a book in big marathon spurts, I’m taking this one slow and steady! (Key word = STEADY. A little bit every day!)

I wrote another post for MotherHustle, where I talk about busting through your boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone… whether that means leaving a stagnant relationship, quitting your job to follow your dreams, or baring it all at a nudist resort. (Which of those do you think I’ve done? Check the link to find out!)

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On the home front, our son turned 3 and we recently moved him to a toddler bed. It is so weird to walk into his room and not see a crib there anymore!

With the help of my dad, we built two backyard garden beds. We’re growing tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos, brussels sprouts, collard greens, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, mint and a bunch of herbs, and a watermelon! I can’t believe how good the plants are doing! Maybe my thumb isn’t so brown after all!

Now we have to get ready for our road trip to Ottawa next month. We’re doing a home exchange for a few weeks and I’ve got lots of planning to do!

Reading: Domestic Affairs by Joyce Maynard and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Listening: 13 Reasons Why soundtrack

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thanks to Gemma at Gemma’s Journey for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. She posted some questions for me to answer and I figured it would be a great way for people to introduce myself to any new readers that come my way.

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What is the best thing about blogging?

Getting a comment from somebody, anybody, about anything I’ve written. My favorite comment ever was a message on Instagram where somebody saw what I wrote on MotherHustle and said she just wanted to thank me for saying how she feels as a mom. That made me feel fantastic, knowing that not only was there someone else out there who felt the same way I do about something, but that someone also thought enough of what I said to take a few seconds and let me know!

What is the one blog post/feature that you are most proud of?

See above. Probably anything that I’ve written for MotherHustle. It’s such a great website/community for creative moms and mompreneurs. Everyone is so supportive and inspiring, and I am honored to have my words alongside so many other awesome ladies’!

What do you like to do on weekends?

Every Friday night we go to our local Italian market for wine tasting and a slice of pizza. That’s like our big date night these days, because #ToddlerGoodwin comes with us. The rest of the weekend, I like to get homework out of the way, maybe try to catch up on sleep, and attempt to binge something on Netflix. During the day, we try to find something fun to do with #ToddlerGoodwin.

Have you seen any good films recently?

I’m a mom and a grad student so it’s been awhile. I’m pretty sure the last time I went to the movie theater was 2014. Hahaha. I also don’t always have the time to sit through an entire movie all at once. However, I did finally sit down and watch Before Midnight (the end of the “Before” Trilogy – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight – with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.) It was heartbreaking and honest and bittersweet and beautiful.

If you could meet any famous person, dead or alive who would it be?

Questions like this are so hard, because there’s so many. I recently read Jesmyn Ward’s memoir Men We Reaped and would love to talk with her.

When was the last time you went to the theatre and what did you see?

The last show I saw was earlier this month with #ToddlerGoodwin and my husband. It was the critically acclaimed smash hit… Bubble Guppies Live. A few months before that, it was Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

If your life was a musical, what would it be called?

When The Coffee Runs Out, Pour Some Wine.

If you were asked to perform on a talent contest, what would your talent be?

I don’t know about a talent contest, but I wouldn’t mind doing some sort of cooking show/cooking contest, like Chopped. I know I’d probably fail miserably, but I love being in the kitchen and messing around with recipes.

What is your most treasured piece of clothing?

In December of 2016, we lost our home and everything in it to a fire. When that happened, we learned pretty quickly that stuff is just that – STUFF – and can be replaced. The important thing is that we were all safe and sound. We lost everything, but still have each other. So I don’t think I really have any clothes “treasures.”

You can only read one book for the rest of your life, what book do you choose?

I COULDN’T!

Describe yourself using a song title.

This is a tough one, too, because I love music and am always connecting all kinds of songs to different memories and moments from my life. I’ll go with “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. The title doesn’t really make sense, but I guess the lyrics do!