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.
"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."
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.
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.