Welcome to my blog..

"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty

When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.

I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.

As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.

I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.

I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.

Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.

For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Simple narrative envy...

Today I am afflicted with a disease I know all too well: simple narrative envy.  And in this case, it’s not because some people’s childhoods seem simple to me, even if there is some trauma, they seem to have one maybe two and with the same people involved – but in this case it’s as I’m finishing Jennifer Egan’s ‘Welcome to the Goon Squad,’ which is really, really good.  And I look at the jacket cover, the good reviews, see her picture – she’s gorgeous - realize she’s married to a New York theater director I like – and I just hate her.  No, I don’t actually hate her, it’s just pure envy.

The book by the way does not have a simple narrative, and I imagine she sweated blood to write it, but I see she is a writer, has been a writer and continues to be a writer.  She has stayed focused, she has success and talent.

My life is not like that.  It never has been like that, and I doubt it ever will be.  I have been gifted or afflicted with many different talents (well hopefully talents) and have ping-ponged between them, sometimes integrating them (as when writing stage texts and directing them) and other times feeling them at cross purposes, for instance trying to run a theatre company and find time to write and direct, including writing the longer prose projects I embark on but do not finish.

And this is what Jennifer Egan’s book captures so beautifully, which is why I now hate her.  She has the simple narrative of being a writer, but has captured fragmentation so successfully.  Each chapter is from a different point of view, but interlinks with the previous one, she spans multiple decades and even pulls off a masterful chapter done in power point as written by a 13 year old.  All hail.  I hate her.

And of course I am wildly grateful to Egan and David Foster Wallace (I am one of those: one of his Abject Fans) for showing that what I always suspected was possible in writing is indeed possible.  I hope I can pull off my own version of what I see in their writing – the ability to wend their way through multiple viewpoints and move between the micro and macroscopic with ease.  Egan, it should also be noted, in her book does a kind of wicked satire of a DFW style article…though I imagine – well, hope – she meant it as a satire of a DFW wannabe rather than Wallace himself. 

I am writing all this still in rural Scotland on the seaside, having had a lovely coastal walk yesterday to the little local village with internet connection.  The walk included seeing deer unexpectedly jumping out of a gorse hedge through a small pond.  There is something magical about deer, and I realize in moments like that how little of the natural world we see anymore.  I don’t know if this is just about living in cities but just in general – so much of it has been contained or cultivated.  Of course I live in the UK now where this is true more than in the US.  On the other hand, in Scotland anyway, there is a right to roam, so all the coastal routes and walking paths are open to the public, even if on private property.  Unlike the US, you cannot own a view or a patch of beauty.  But there is of course way less land that is not managed or cultivated.

My father in law just walked in to the cottage and my husband is still out in the village, so I guiltily asked for more time to write and he went back to the other cottage.  I feel so jealous of these minutes of writing.  I think I have some idea that if I can write everything down, there will be some kind of freedom in that.  I wonder if I am completely delusional in this way.

The sea today is calm, the Isle of Man is visible and I am in one of the middle places between calm and anxious.  I feel the space again as an absence where my theatre company was, but am still holding it open not filling it yet with anything in particular.

In the distance, the sea is sparkling with sunlight and the fact is I really don’t have that much to say at this moment, so I will fall into silence. 

Below are some images from my walks the past couple of days….


  1. Those pics are LOVELY-Makes me wish I was in Scotland right now.

    Anyhoo, have been reading the blog-Um, you ARE a writer. You just love doing other things as well. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact Barbara Sher would LOVE you-So, QUIT WITH THE ENVY!

    As for your previous blog: It is plain to see that when you're blogging about the work you do, you're far more balanced and what throws you is when you look at the uncertainties in your life.

    We ALL feel as if we don't "fit in" in some way or another. The trick is NOT in trying to do away with the feeling, but accepting you feel what you feel and then choosing NOT to let it rule you.

    As Dr. Wayne W. Dyer puts it: Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

    Anyhoo, had more to say, but your site wouldn't let me comment yesterday and NOT in the mood for a repeat.

    Take Care Girlie,

    Elaine :0)

  2. Reading all of your blogs so far I have a thought that comes back again and again; screen-writing. Have you ever had a go? I find your narratives are very visual and evocative and could imagine them in a film.

    Also uncertainty is a fact of life. The West is very good at making us believe that we can control pretty much everything, have knowledge over everything, be in charge. That's an illusion. One of my teachers once said life consists of 80% boredom and 20% excitement. Substitute boredom for uncertainty..... I believe that every day we have a chance to meet it and practice faith that all will be ok.

  3. thanks for the comments...am too tired to take it all on board now, but appreciate your care and concern...just FYI I am on purpose writing out the anxieties and such rather than papering them over...this may be a bad idea, but somehow I think it's important - especially in this weird world of the blogosphere - to not always project confidence and image...I do know I am more confident when writing about my work - it's been through work I've stabilized myself many times, but I'm also interested in the times where I'm unstable...is there something there in the cracks between the known and the next known? Maybe not, but just poking around to find out...

    as for screenwriting, who knows, perhaps...it's a whole new format to master but I have a million films in my head, it's true...