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!)

Breaking-Boundaries-And-Your-Comfort-Zone-by-Jessica-Goodwin-for-MotherHustle

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.

dtxitysumaajzts202180665

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!

 

April Update

I started off April talking about mom guilt on MotherHustle. I think every mom does battle with mom guilt at some point. What I’ve come to realize is that the reason why I feel guilty is because I worry that I’m not giving enough of myself to my kid, my husband, to school, or to my writing… But there’s only so much of me to go around, so instead of feeling guilty, I need to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can with what I have! I need to stress less and enjoy these days, because they’ll be gone in a flash!

Whats-Up-With-The-Mama-Self-Guilt-Heres-Why-We-Do-It.-by-Jessica-Goodwin-for-MotherHustle

And I really have been trying to enjoy myself. I got to go to Florida for a weekend and surprise my best friend for her 50th birthday. Aside from FaceTime and Snapchat, I haven’t seen her since #ToddlerGoodwin’s first birthday in 2016 – almost two years! She had no idea that I was coming to visit, so the look on her face was worth the trip! We only had a couple days together, but we picked up right where we left off. I needed that trip!

I also got to take a trip to Boston again for school. I spent a Friday morning walking all over campus and then went on a shopping spree at the Harvard bookstore. I met up with a friend for dinner Friday night and then had classes on Saturday and Sunday.

In other news, we started potty training #ToddlerGoodwin last month. Man, I thought having a baby was tiring. Then I thought when he started crawling and walking that I was tired from having to chase him around. Now I am just freaking exhausted from stressing out over this potty training. He’s doing better than I thought he would, but I’m not holding my breath just yet! Our next big milestone: moving to a big boy bed. But that can wait.

I’ve been sending out queries for my latest project, so we’ll see what happens there. (Not holding my breath with that, either!) I’m just trying to make it to the end of the semester… only a couple weeks left! I will have a month off before starting my summer class. I plan on spending the time outlining a new story and brainstorming thesis ideas. And doing a lot of playing with #ToddlerGoodwin!

Reading: All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald. (My professor for class at EXT. It’s an amazing memoir and it was such an honor to be in class with him!)

Listening: MTV Unplugged – Bleachers

March Update

Hey everybody! I’ve been super busy editing my work in progress and am so happy with how it’s going! It’s been a little nuts trying to balance writing, school, and chasing after #ToddlerGoodwin but I feel like I’ve found my groove! I’m so happy!

Looking for Motivation, Mama_ Look to What You Love - by Jessica Goodwin for MotherHustle

Earlier this month, I wrote a post for MotherHustle about motivation. As a mom, I read a lot of parenting/mom blogs and websites, but this site is way more than that – it’s a great place for creative mompreneurs to share their triumphs and tragedies not just in their personal lives, but in their businesses as well! The posts are insightful and inspiring and I’m always so excited to see my words included alongside the words of so many other brilliant, talented women! In this post I talk about quitting your day job to do what you love!

This month, I participated in #PitMad on Twitter. It’s funny how I can pound out a short story or chip away at a 90,000 word novel, but whoa… trying to condense everything you want to say about your book into 280 characters is tough!

I might not have had any success with #PitMad, but I did find some agents to query. We’ll see. Querying requires as much research, thought, and time as writing the actual book.

On top of all this work, I’ve been writing short stories and reading like crazy for class. I’m halfway through one class already, and another one just started… only 6 weeks to go ’til this semester is over!

Reading: With or Without You by Domenica Ruta (One of my classes is on social justice and memoirs so I’m really enjoying memoirs right now!) and Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.

Listening: Songs of Experience – U2 (Going to see them for the third time this June!)

What are you reading? Comment and let me know, especially if you have any good memoir suggestions!

xoxo,
Jess

February Update

Surprise! New year, new website/blog… again. I was so fed up with the unfriendliness of my previous platform that I ended up deleting it and moving my domain over to WordPress, which I’m way more comfortable with. There might be some tweaks and updates as I figure out what I want this baby to look like, but this is home! For good.

I finally finished my work in progress. I participated in #KissPitch on Valentine’s Day, mostly just to try my hand at writing a Twitter pitch and to see what types of romance manuscripts were getting interest. It seemed like the most popular pitches were for things like fantasy/werewolf/Death/fae/mystery/super steamy books. I did get a few nibbles, one of which ended up being a pass. The other one I haven’t heard back from. That’s okay. We’ll see what happens with #PitMad in March! Wish me luck!

I got the most awesome review on Amazon earlier this month. It said:
Screenshot (1)

Thanks, Jennifer, whoever you are! Your message really made my day. I’m working on getting that new book out there as we speak!

Reading: Half the Way Home – Adam Hochschild
Listening: Show Me Your Fangs – Matt Nathanson

xoxo,
Jess