What I Didn’t Find in New York City

What I Didnt Find In New York City

You may know by now that I spent the summer in New York City.

Based on this post, it seemed unlikely that I would have a desire to spend a prolonged amount of time in New York City. But it was one of those things where I said, “I’m going to do something I may never have another opportunity to do. Also, authentic pizza.”

So on a whim that was very out of character for someone who only applied to one single liberal arts school for college, I decided to apply for a creative writing program at Columbia University. Much to the shock of those who know me I was accepted, and several weeks later I found myself in the city that never sleeps. (This is one hundred percent true. To prove this point, there was a 24-hour cookie place right down the street from me that delivered until 3 AM.)

I went to New York with the intention of finding an adventure, which I did. I went to learn how to write better, which I did. And I went hoping I would return awash in purpose when it came to writing, ready to sit myself down and pound out that self-depracating memoir the world is probably clamoring to read.

This did not happen.

In fact, while I was there and while I now sit once more in my apartment in Spokane, sans Carrie Bradshaw dreams, I have never felt less inspired.

This is why I haven’t written in a while. I have no idea what I want to say. I have no tidy anecdotes to relate, no new profound thoughts about dating or life or God, nothing I feel compelled to write out other than this, and even still I’m thinking, “I hope I even make it to the end of this post.”

I have no idea why this happened. All the things were in place: an amazing university, a class to spur me towards greatness, a city that basically eats writers alive but none the less is supposed to feed their word-oriented souls with its energy.

But instead I feel dry and uncreative. I feel I have nothing to share because I have no tidy ending. I don’t have some great problem I can relate and then say, “But don’t worry, this is why it will be all right.”

Nope. Nada.

I will say this though: I’m finding more courage to share pieces of myself even if I have no tidy answer at the end.

Even in conversations with close friends, I have always struggled to not relate difficult things about my life without inserting some peppy silver lining at the end.

I don’t want to be a downer, I don’t want to burden people, I don’t want people to think I don’t have any perspective or understanding of my situation.

I’ll tell people if I’m angry, confused or hurt, but I’ll try to end with, “Yes, all this sucks, but I’ve also discovered this good thing because of this bad thing, the sun will come out tomorrow, etc.”

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but at times this tendency has left me feeling I cannot share my story if there’s no ending.

It’s made me feel my stories are only valuable if there’s a neat conclusion.

There is no neat conclusion to the fact that I feel completely uninspired and maybe even a little apathetic towards many areas of my life right now, writing being one of them.

That’s it. That’s all. I haven’t had any type of epiphany or surge of creativity. I feel uninspired, and that sucks. The end.

I wish more people would share their stories before they found an ending. I love that we seek endings and closure to not only ease our own sufferings but to provide hope to others. And while endings and solutions can provide these things, sometimes it’s just good to know someone else is going through the same thing you are and you’re both searching for the answer yet to be found.

So I’ll just end this post here, without a conclusion, without parting words of advice. I feel uninspired, I don’t know why, it hasn’t ended, but I’m going to share my story anyway.

12 replies »

  1. So much YES to all of this. Sometimes I’ve typed happy “Christian-y” endings to posts, then deleted them because they felt so untrue. I hate non-endings in fiction, but in real life, I wish more people would say it like it is, unfinished and all.

    • Totally! And I think as Christians we almost feel an obligation to end on a high note, as though if we don’t we aren’t respresenting Jesus well, which I don’t believe is actually the case.

  2. I’m all about sharing with no ending because mine hasn’t appeared yet, and so, I cannot carve something out. I do not have the strength, or the imagination, to do so. It is funny, isn’t it, that we have to spin on a negative situation to make others feel more comfortable. I can empathise with you – I went to university. I lasted 3 years. And I hated. Every. Darn. Second. Yet whenever I tell the story, and I see the eyes widen of the person listening to me, I finish it with ‘I’m so proud of myself for pushing through it’ when, no, I’m not really, because it made me ill, and I put my body through a lot, and I’m three years down the line, aged 29 (nearly 30) and still figuring it all out. Still without any greater understanding about life and myself that I had before I started uni. So, you know what? This is marvellous. I appreciate and I understand and I cheer along with what you’re saying because it’s real, and it’s honest, and that’s really rather something!

    P.S – I hope you took up the cookie-delivery offer.

    • Tori! I LOVE that you shared this. And what you said about how we are afraid our negative situations will make people uncomfortable. I think that’s so true. Thanks for sharing your un-conclusion! 🙂

  3. First: I was not surprised even a little bit when you were accepted into this program. 🙂
    Second: Please tell me you had a cookie delivered at 3 a.m. at least once. 🙂
    Third: Thank you, as always for your words and your honesty. I think realizing that life does not always wrap itself up in tidy answers (like a tv show) is part of our adult journey, and certainly part of our faith journey. You know that verse in Isaiah about ‘they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” and goes on about the eagles? (I don’t want to go look it up right now. lol) Nowhere does it say how long you have to wait on the Lord, or when He will renew your strength. Waiting makes me whiny; the Lord and I have had many conversations about it. I always continue to have to wait. What I’ve finally realized is that the waiting is not useless; He will use that time too. I may or may not be privileged to see the use or reason. Meanwhile, I KNOW He is holding my hand while I wait.

    • Julie,
      First: Thank you! 😉
      Second: Never delivery, but I definitely had myself a smore cookie more than once late at night.
      Third: Thank YOU. You are always just so encouraging. Did you know that you just mentioned the very verse that my tattoo is semi-based on? Did you know I have a tattoo? 😉 Thank you for reminding me that waiting is not useless, because I usually FEEL useless when I’m waiting. I think I get it into my head that God hates my waiting just as much as I do.

      • Didn’t know you have a tattoo! Hmmm – might need a photo of that. ;)I also feel useless when I’m waiting. I think there’s a bit of Puritan in me; if I’m not actively doing something, I must be wasting time. My head knows that God desires my stillness – stillness of mind, heart and body – but that knowledge doesn’t always reach my heart. One exception: at my advanced age, I finally know with every cell in my body that time with people is never, ever wasted. Yay! 🙂

  4. Julia, I’m so glad you write. I just want you to know that I love reading your words and I think this may very well be your best work. I say that not to puff up or flatter, but because it’s so damn relatable. I took a Nazirite Vow for two years and posted a blog update every month, all twenty-four of them. Most of them are terrible, but somehow I always found something to slop across the screen. Some of them are good, mostly toward the end, if any. But now I sit so often and stare at my screen thinking, “Everything has already been said. What now?” And God has told me to simply share my story, one piece at a time. I think that’s what you’ve done here. You’re just telling it like it happened and that is so valuable. Rarity is what gives something value and because nobody has lived your story, nobody else can tell it. It’s a rare as a thing can get. Thank you for writing, Julia. Thanks for being so openly you. The rest of us struggle with that bad enough that we don’t share all that openly. So kudos. And don’t stop telling what happened.

    Brent Hemphillwww.watertrotter.wordpress.com

    P.S. If I lived anywhere near Spokane, I would marry you tomorrow. Ha!You’re the bees knees. Keep your chin up.

    Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2015 19:46:10 +0000 To: watertrotter@hotmail.com

    • Thank you so much, Brent! I really like what you said – that somehow you always found something to put out there even if it wasn’t perfection. And I think that’s where we get so caught up in fear. We get so afraid to share anything that hasn’t been polished or puts us in the perfect light when so often those are the very things we need to share and others need to hear. So I’m glad you’re on the same journey!
      Also I can honestly say that yours is the first marriage proposal I have ever had on this blog, so go you!

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