Why my 2017 blog post didn’t quite get it right

My most popular blog post for 2020 was called, “Why Writing a Book is Like Making a Jigsaw Puzzle.” I didn’t write that post this year, though. I published it in March of 2017 when I was formulating the ideas for my first book.

Part of a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle I made this year.

That 2017 post made some valid points, but it wasn’t entirely accurate. Here are three reasons why writing a book is not like making a jigsaw puzzle:

1. Writing a book is a creative endeavor. Making a jigsaw puzzle is not.

Jigsaw puzzles do require brainpower to recognize which shapes and patterns go together, but they…


A solo run of 13.1 miles on Thanksgiving morning

Obligatory selfie: ready to go (this was a vertical pic — the software stretched it to fit the width of the column)

They call it a virtual half marathon if there’s no crowd and no marked finish line. But for the legs, it’s 100% real.

Was it a good idea to sign up for the HM November challenge on Strava? Perhaps not, but I did it anyway. Before today, my longest run since March was 7 miles. My longest this year was 10 miles. I hadn’t done a half since 2011.

Before I head out, my son asks me, “Are you going to beat 2:32:12?” (my time in the 2011 race, which he has memorized). No, that is no longer part of…


This is the year I don’t want to summer to end.

But I don’t have a choice.

It is now late October, and I can no longer pretend.

At 7 am, it is dark and 35 degrees out.

When I look out my dining room window, I see grape leaves falling to the ground.

The leaves started dying before the grapes were ripe this year.

Somehow, that seems fitting.

In September, I climbed a ladder to reach the vines.

Not to harvest ripe grapes to make jam but to cut down bunches of still-green grapes.

Those that had already fallen…


Is this the end of coworking?

The parking lot was nearly empty, as I suspected it would be. As I approached the double doors, I saw the signs: “You must wear a face mask to enter and during your time in the building.” Although it was the middle of the workday, the doors were locked, but I knew that the app on my phone would let me in.

The front doors of The Riveter Bellevue

No friendly face greeted me as I walked by the front desk. No coffee was brewing. The coworking space was quiet without the usual background music or the sound of conversation. …


I am grateful that I can run again

I appreciate the blue sky and trees.

This morning I went on a 30-minute run. In normal circumstances, that’s nothing extraordinary for me. When I was in the midst of half marathon training in February, my shortest run each week took around 45 minutes. But plans of all sorts have gotten derailed. That March half marathon was canceled.

Exactly a decade ago, I completed my first 10K race and experienced the joy of running for the first time in my life. I remember thinking, “I’ve been running for over an hour, and I feel great! Who am I, and what did I do with Julia?” …


The April issues of monthly business magazines are already out of date

The bookcase in my home office. My desk isn’t camera-ready.

The April 2020 issue of 425 Business magazine arrived in my mailbox the other day. For the first time, reading it felt like being in a time warp. Having written many articles for monthly magazines, including the one in my hand, I know how the schedule works. All the content for the April issue was finalized in February, which is actually a tight deadline for a monthly publication.

This magazine focuses on businesses in the 425 area code, located east of Seattle, just across Lake Washington. …


Eight miles, 100 minutes, four episodes

Photo by Oscar Söderlund on Unsplash

At 9 am on Saturday, it is 42 degrees and raining. This isn’t the light rain that’s common in Seattle, where you have to ask yourself whether it’s raining and stand outdoors for a few minutes to make sure. It’s coming down hard. This is the kind of rain where you’re guaranteed to get drenched if you spend more than a few minutes outside even if you’re wearing a rain jacket.

My half-marathon training calendar says I’m supposed to run 8 miles today. That’s a long run for me, which means that I need to take it slowly and put…


Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

January 2020

“Julia, you must focus.”

“Coach, I’ve been doing push-ups and squats and planks for an hour. I’m exhausted. How is this going to help me run my fastest half marathon? How it is going to help me publish my next book and get to Europe?”

“Ahhh. It will not get you to Europe. The airplane will get you to Europe. But you will know what to do when you arrive.”

“I see.” But I didn’t. My goals still looked so far away.

“Have you been writing in your journal every day?”

“Yes. But sometimes it’s just basic to-do…


It’s November, which means the crunch of leaves underfoot on my outdoor runs and renewed attention on Medium for an article I wrote two years ago called “7 Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo.”

Here’s an update: the 41,000-word draft that I wrote in November 2017 eventually turned into a 72,000-word book that launched into the world on April 22, 2019 (Earth Day). It’s called Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products. The book is available online in print and digital formats and also in bookstores and dozens of libraries around the US.


Brush with silicone bristles. Great for basting but no good for making computer chips.

It amazes me that many educated people do not know the difference between silicon and silicone. I received an email that described a new type of windshield wiper blade supposedly made from silicon. I knew that couldn’t be right. The very idea made me think of fingernails on a chalkboard!

Silicon is an element with the chemical symbol Si. It’s a semiconductor, less electrically conductive than metals but still able to conduct electricity. Silicon is grey and shiny and looks metallic. Large, cylindrical crystals of silicon are sawn into the rigid silicon wafers that serve as the backbone for computer…

Julia Goldstein

I’m a professional writer and the author of Material Value and Rethink the Bins. My beat is materials and sustainability. https://www.juliagoldsteinauthor.com

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