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. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.

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 having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.

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.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good news about publication and book progress!

I've been working on my grandmothers book - a lot. Been engaged in writing, more research, editing existing writing and all sorts. But especially for those of you who supported me as a full-time writer this summer through the campaign, I wanted to tell you that there is [an albeit Very rough] draft emerging. Something I began to think I would never see. I've written about 125K words, many of which will need to be either cut or rewritten, but it's coming along. I've realized for me writing a book is like painting a landscape with watercolors. You have to do a light sketch, then a wash and then the details in layered stages. So I'm somewhere in the light sketch & wash stage. But it's coming along...a landscape emerging. Every once in a while a detail with depth becomes clear - feels like hitting a vein of gold (yes metaphor mixing is in progress here), I usually cry, then sigh. I hear over and over the voice of the actor playing Ernest Hemingway in that film about him and the journalist, Martha Gellhorn, saying to her, when she says she can't write about all the devastation she sees around her: "Bite the nail!" So I do. (I'm not even a big Hemingway fan, but he does have a point there.)

In the meantime, a nice thing that happened on the way to writing the book, is that an older story of mine The God Thing was published yesterday in The Stockholm Review of Literature, a new and delightfully cranky online journal out of - yes - Sweden. Once again, I find my artistic home outside of my home - nothing new in that formulation.

However - in contradiction to that sound of pseudo-sophisticated ennui - back on the home front, a stage text I wrote a while back - in fact the last thing I wrote before 9/11/01 - My First Autograce Homeography (1973-74) will be having its premiere at The Brick (in Williamsburg, BK) in November, directed by the inimitable Ian W. Hill, produced by his company Gemini CollisionWorks. This is truly exciting, because it's a cut-up text using personal memories as the base, and I was hesitant to direct it myself consequently. To have another eye on this - adding a whole other layer of memory and resonance from the 1970s - will turn it into a kaleidoscopic, Proustian inversion. This kind of thing makes me very happy. Ian is a fabulous writer and director, so the fact he wants to work with this text is quite an honor, and I am So looking forward to seeing what he does with it. Details as they emerge.

Before then, in October, I'll be directing staged readings of my newest stage text ...whatever God is at StageLeft in NYC. Details for that will post here as I have them, though dates are October 7 & 21. Readings are part of the Indie Theater Now reading series for their published playwrights.

I'm also on my way back to teaching at Fordham next week - I will miss the ability to focus solely on the writing, but I do love teaching writing, too, so it's not all bad. With the draft/skeleton of Dick and Jani emerging, I will be able to keep working in a more piecemeal fashion. Hoping to get another big chunk o' time next year - applying for some writing residency/retreat type places with that in mind. I was only able to get my PhD draft written by hiding out on a small island in Scotland for 4 weeks, and have a feeling this process may have a similar Moment of Truth, wherein I collect all the shards and make it into Something (aka a Book).

My beloved Canadian continues to adjust to life in NYC and in the midst of all that remains wildly supportive of my writing, for which I am wildly grateful.  He is - as I write - managing the box office of one of the FringeNYC venues. Lucky him! (It's a grueling job that lasts all day through course of festival, FYI.) Without the platform of our love, I'm not sure I would be able to delve so deeply into this book. It's nice to know wherever I go, I can come back to shore and there'll be somewhere there who actually wants to see me, no matter how bruised and battered I appear or feel. Truly miraculous.

Speaking of which, back to the mines....(or diving into deep waters, or painting the watercolor or...)


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I can't add anything to all the words people have written about how great Robin Williams was. I can barely stomach writing the word 'was.'

I wrote something back in February when another genius, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died about the perils of long-term sobriety, and it is sadly relevant again here.

To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth, it's been a bugger of a year for loss of beauty, goodness, sensitivity and boundless talent to hideous disease.

http://julialeebarclay.blogspot.com/2014/02/david-foster-wallace-philip-seymour.html

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

a list of what's inspiring me now

In honor of Georges Perec, a list. Without too much explanation.

What is inspiring me now as I write The Book. I read these things and write and read and write - sometimes notes, sometimes the book itself...sometimes something else altogether that may go somewhere else someday.

1. Leigh Gilmore's 'The Limits of Autobiography: trauma and testimony' - genius feminist scholar parsing the distinctions of self as represented and/or constructed - disputer of 'false memory syndrome' as bad pseudoscience - uniter of 'shell shock' and 'hysteria' that were torn asunder by gender politics - and reader of such diverse writers as Michel Foucault, Jeanette Winterson, Jamaica Kincaid & Dorothy Allison - as at the limits of autobiography.

Sample:

"A first-person account of trauma represents an intervention, even an interruption of, a whole meaning-making apparatus that threatens to shout it down at every turn. Thus a writer's turn from the primarily documentary toward the fictional marks an effort to shift the ground of judgment towards a perspective she has struggled to achieve."

Drops mic.


2. William Faulkner's 'As I Lay Dying' - just read it if you haven't. 1930. Multiple 1st person POV. "My mother is a fish." is a chapter. Hated this book at 15. Love it at 51. Nice palindromic symmetry there, dontcha think?

3. Jill Lepore's 'The Mansion of Happiness' - about history of life and death in America - brilliant, funny, insightful, and breathtakingly researched.

4. Morris Dickstein's 'Dancing in the Dark' - precise yet extraordinarily comprehensive cultural history of the Depression in the U.S. (That routed me back to Faulkner.)

Other inspirations - not books - but mighty important:

5. Beloved husband, John, who brings me coffee, makes food most of the time, always does the dishes and tolerates my Extreme Moodiness While Working on This and assures me I am still lovable. I think he's lying, but bless him anyway.

6. Friends Julie & Susan - witnesses-in-chief to this struggle.

7. Mother Robin - chief purveyor of support & information regarding her mother (also cousin Darcy and her info & support and newly-found cousin Sharon and hers)

8. Everyone who supported crowd-funding campaign making this summer possible. Plus many others who are offering support in ways they know and don't know.

9. That and Dick & Jani's photos and spirits. And me. And the 20th Century. And everything else.

OK, so if Georges Perec wrote this, it would be way better...but I'm focusing that precision on the book. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.