The Space Between

A year ago today, my family moved into a long-term rental house in the wake of our fire.   We’d spent the previous two weeks in a hotel which had its benefits:

Plenty of clean towels in the morning. Enough free shampoo to lather, rinse and repeat. Cheap wine in the lobby each night at five o’clock.

big spoon

Also, this was the only spoon we had for ice cream. Not too shabby.

But the bright-side dimmed when we realized the hotel was too far from our neighborhood for us to carpool. My teenage kids shared a bed and most nights Jack ended up on the floor.

We missed our dogs. We missed our space. We missed our home.

I knew a rental house would be the answer to all of our problems. Yes, all of them!

Our insurance adjuster arranged a six-month lease for us and a temp-home company delivered loaner furniture and housewares – forks, sheets, toothbrush-holders, pillows. Everything a family of four (and two dogs) might want.

I puttered around the unfamiliar corners rearranging borrowed picture frames on rented dressers. I stowed decorative silk plants in a closet to gather dust and fidgeted nervously, waiting for Bill and the kids to arrive.

Would they feel it, too?

The rooms were furnished but they still seemed empty to me, a lone trespasser in this giant doll-house with nothing familiar to anchor her.

I cooked dinner in a stranger’s kitchen. My family sat down to eat at someone else’s table. Gobble it up quickly! Before the real people come back!

I was Goldilocks, except none of the porridge or chairs or beds were just right.

My point here is not to complain. I realize we were very lucky. We are.

But during our six months in the rental house, I was reminded of the gaping hole between what I think is best for me and what I truly need.

I believed – wrongly – that my displaced family was missing a couch and a living room when what we really longed for were the memories of being on our couch in our living room.

This space between physical and emotional need is hard to describe and harder to bridge.

And yet we try. We fail. We try again.

This is true in writing, too.

I recently completed a draft of a new manuscript and while I have assembled the physical components of a story, I know I haven’t quite shored up the emotion of it. Yet.

My job now is to bring life and depth and range to these characters so that they are not merely rented furniture in someone else’s living room.

I need to make their house into a home.

And if, like me, you’re looking for a book with both a compelling story and deep emotion, allow me – once again – to recommend A Lady in France, by Jennie Goutet.


You can read my review of the book here and purchase your own copies here.

Then – if you would be so kind – take the next step to show your support of indie writers by reviewing Jennie’s memoir.

We’re in this together, after all; building bridges across the space between, helping each other find our way home.

Congratulations to Renee Schuls-Jacobson, the winner of my giveaway. I’ll be sending her a copy of A Lady in France immediately. 

Now go order yours.

27 thoughts on “The Space Between

  1. Lovely. You, that is. I can’t wait to hold your novel in my hands. I know it’ll be exactly what I want and need to read. xo

  2. beautiful.
    thought provoking.
    love the symbolism here.
    Love it all.

  3. Di

    Julie…you always manage to fill the void and make the space between seem insignificant. Now that you and the family are back in your home that void just got much smaller. And as far as the new manuscript…the emotion is there and not much shoring up is needed. XXXOOO

  4. I cannot wait to hold your book. xo

  5. NannyK

    What Di & Galit & My Inner Chick said!!!
    Love you Jules…in ALL the spaces <3

  6. First of all, I can’t imagine the discomfort of being in a strange place with strange surroundings while doing familiar activities. It might have driven me to eat ice cream with that spoon, but a bigger bowl. Perhaps a strange mixing bowl.

    Second, I understand completely about shoring up the emotion. I have no doubt that you will succeed and when you do, I’ll be pimping that sucker out. But I’ll say it in much more genteel terms.

  7. I can’t wait to have a physical book in my hands with your name on the cover.

    I have thought of your family often.

  8. You know, part of me wants an advance copy of your book, whenever you think it’s ready for consumption. But a bigger part of me also wants to be able to walk into a bookstore, go up to the shelf, and tell the shop owner “this author? I know her.”

    And then take the book with me on your signing tour.

    That is a truly awesome ice cream spoon. I have all of the jealous.

  9. You summed up the revision process – and life – so perfectly.
    It’s like a writing metaphor that’s larger.
    Which was a bad metaphor.
    Or not even a metaphor.

    Congrats on finishing the manuscript. That’s HUGE right there.
    Can’t wait to be reading the book.


  10. renee schuls-jacobson

    Yes yes and yes. We continue to try. And fail. And try again.

    Congrats on finishing a draft of the manuscript. Soooo proud of you.

    You have no idea.

  11. Ooh, I see what you did there. I was not expecting that. I don’t get out much.

  12. Girl. Seriously. You make everything shine. You give it ALL emotion. ALL OF IT.

    Now, hurry up and finish, please.


  13. Love your writing. Love you! So glad that space between has been filled and you are back home again. And the space you are looking to fill in your manuscript. I’m not worried about that. Not one little bit!


  14. Julie, getting any emotion in my writing is the most difficult. I can drive home a point no prob. But with feeling?? that’s a challenge.

    Also, what other size spoon would one want for ice cream anyway?

    (loved that photo)

  15. YES! A draft! I am so happy. This is a big deal!
    What a gorgeous writer you are. This is so beautiful. I love the imagery and the heart here. And the big spoon!
    I ordered Jennie’s book and it is waiting for me at the border.
    Did I mention how happy I am for you?

  16. I love you. I love your writing.

    Even what you might call emotionless I find so much life to it.

    I am with all the others in feeling very impatient to have your book in my hands.

  17. I can’t imagine what you and your family have been through.
    That said, I look forward, as always, to your writing and that promise of a finished manuscript-turned-book to read!

  18. Ann

    This is profound. And profoundly beautiful.

  19. Courtney

    One day at a time – one step at a time. Even these small blurbs of yours are packed with enough emotion and description to fill a room! Miss you!

  20. What a beautiful metaphor–reminds me of Frost’s “Mending Wall.” I love your writing Julie!

  21. Well hard as it is to give up free wine, it is good to work on getting settled.

  22. I cannot imagine going through this experience but you share the emotions of it so beatifully and powerfully.

  23. Congratulations on finishing your draft. I have no doubt you’ll find the way home.

  24. Sometimes, the place we think of as home is not far. But the path there seems like it is. I bet you are closer to home than you think. Wishing you lots of luck on getting there – I have no doubt you’ll make it.

  25. I’m so sorry about your house! I clicked over here from Nina’s blog…You tell this story and connect it to writing so beautifully. Interested in the book you recommended, and I very much hope the home you need is with you soon. Happy February!

  26. I can only imagine the all of emotions tied up in that experience.
    I wish you all the best as you continue this writing project to its completion, Julie.

  27. I can’t even imagine what a profound experience that must have been. I hope you’re settled now and making new memories on your very own couch.

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