That's about it. I'm writing. It takes most of my day and then I try to do other stuff around it. It still feels like eating a brick each day when I'm done. A kind of tightness and sorrow. It'd be a lot more fun if I just made it into fiction but it's not that.
Also praying for my step-father who is in ICU now in Maine and glad that by some miraculous serendipity my cousin Jonathan is a night nurse at that ICU. I am not sure if/when I will be going up to Maine myself, it depends on a lot of factors. If you believe in such things, please send prayers to Mid-Coast Maine Hospital for Tom.
In the meantime, on Friday it will be my birthday and I've cancelled my first set of plans in case I need to travel suddenly and also because of an offer to visit my good friend Julie in East Hampton if I don't need to go to Maine right away. As you can see, especially if you've been reading this blog for a while, my life is divided a lot like this: deep sadness on one hand, gorgeous invitation on the other...one thing my life never, ever is: boring.
Honestly, since I stopped drinking and drugging back in 1986 until now, I've never been bored. Not once. It's kind of shocking really. I have also never felt the kind of existential loneliness I felt before I finally reached out for some help with the stopping drinking then. I have felt lonely. I have felt a lot of things but not that kind of lonely. If you've ever felt it, you'll know what I mean and if you haven't, just consider yourself lucky. It's definitely one of Dante's circles of hell and I wouldn't wish it on a soul.
I got some good feedback from the writing on Saturday when I saw a lovely woman who ran a writer's group in London and now has a number in LA. Her name is Jill Robinson and to know her is to love her. She was quite positive about what I read to her and - most importantly - told me she felt it sounded like it was from a different time. This is wonderful because I'm writing in 3 different 1st persons, two of which are my grandmothers, starting at about 1919. I am working to create/re-create their voices, one of which I heard for many years and another of which I heard some but have examples of her writing to draw from, including poems she wrote from age 19 to 60. A gift.
I am living in and breathing their analog world and glad of it. I hand wrote the writing I am typing up now in a crappy notebook with a crappy pen. I am editing a lot to update material in line with my research. People keep saying: well you can just make it fiction, but I keep saying: no, it's not entirely fiction. It's about these two very real people, allowing for their voices to emerge as much as possible. I don't believe the truism that fiction is truer than fact. I think fiction is fiction. Most history of so-called facts is also fiction. The real challenge is to get away from story telling in order to get somewhere near reality.
This is of course totally impossible because we are story-making machines. I could write ninety random chance words now and you'd make a story out of it. But I want to show this mechanism in the writing, as I do in theater. Allow for the machinery to operate but consciously. The reader will not know which part of the words came from my grandmothers and which ones I wrote. They will be aware that they do not know. This is a start.
But the reason the emotional weight is so profound is that there is a lot of sadness in both of their stories and I think I've been carrying that weight a long time, as the Beatles sang...a weird nature/nurture inheritance...this bit of the story is more about me, though. What showing the work to Jill proved to me is that it can resonate past me and that's what interests me more...
Also evoking a different world with a different set of values and a different time scale...the grandmothers' childhoods and then the rapid shifts throughout their lives, WWII being a huge one, smack in the middle of their adulthoods, shaking up everyone and everything, including who women saw themselves as or didn't.
But besides the huge historical stuff are the smaller changes and the ways in which one molecular construction moves and changes one way and another another way....and the discovery of genealogies including medical histories written by Jani's mother Ida going back to the 1800s, family members poisoning each other, nervous breakdowns, alcoholism, abortions (mentioned without judgment, I might add), hearty characters, 'bad characters', cock eyes, knock knees and bed wetting...nervous temperaments, creeping paralysis and a whole strain of women living into their 100s, a young man dying in the gold rush, another who was sheriff in the midwest and on and on and on....you just cannot make this shit up and have it be so mind-blowing.
So, wish me luck as I continue working through this stuff...so that one day relatively soon, if the gods are good, The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani, will be completed and published....any donations to the cause accepted at any time (!) seeing as no one is advancing me any money for this adventure as of yet, you can be the first and you can be sure you will be mentioned in the intro!
I'm getting punchy now, so goodnight...
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.