So, I did it - wrote about 56K words in the month of November for my book, so now I have a lot more words. 'NaNoWriMo' or National Novel Writing Month - is about getting you to produce 50K words, which in their estimation is a short novel, in a month. For my grandmothers' book, it's not even close, but I did get refocussed on the project, so that is good.
I am still working on putting in a lot of Jani's own writing into the book, and figuring out how that will intersect with mine, especially her correspondence in the 1970s, which was - well - endless. I've also unearthed some precious gems from her writing in the 30s and 40s. This writing mostly intersects with my own ideas about what she was thinking and feeling at the time, so that is good. Sometimes her words are jarring and remind me how far off I can be, too - which is equally good. I've also gotten more information from her oldest daughter, which differs from everyone else's experience in some ways - and in some ways not at all.
What I have begun to realize is that now I must consider the research part of the book basically complete and move forward with what I have, because I could research forever and not find out everything. My lovely cousin, Sharon, has also been in touch with another cousin who remembers Dick as well. This is wonderful, and I will teach out to him, but again, I'm coming face to face with the reality, which is: I can't put in Everything.
At some point, I need to stop adding and begin revising. However, that time has not yet come. There are a few periods of times I need to flesh out. But I will be doing so with my imagination in combination with the information I have now. Even in my own 51 years, if I talk about memories of a time when I was there, other people will have differing memories of the same event. There is no way out of this fact - there is no objective truth that endless amounts of research will offer me, and I'm going to have to trust the research I have done thus far and my own vision of this two women I knew so well when they were alive, even if only as a child and young adult.
Wish me luck!
In other news, I want to say that watching My First Autograce Homeography over and over turned out to be a profoundly healing experience. At first watching the play, which included renderings - not precise but pretty damn close - of traumatic episodes from my life, was very hard indeed. My first response at the first shows was to be almost out of body, a real PTSD kind of thing. In the middle of the run, I cried a lot. But, by the end of the run, I was in a whole new place. I could see these events as something from my childhood that lives there in the past and not here in the present. Having people witness this piece, which seems to have resonated with them for their own reasons, which I really hoped would happen, also helped. This was yet another experience of walking through the flames that has led to another level of groundedness and wholeness, a sense of being OK in my own skin - one less bloody thing to run from in my psyche.
I cannot begin to explain the degree to which my own personal healing was Not my intent in writing Autograce - nor is it ever the reason I create something for other people - so I am pleasantly surprised by this development. One thing I know, if I had directed the piece myself, it's doubtful this would have been the outcome. There was something deeply important about Not being part of the creation process of this event other than as the writer of the text in order for this healing to be possible. I needed allies, others in there with that material that were not me, yet also not trying to help. The actors, Ian, and Berit, were all part of this process for their own reasons, which is as it should be. Somehow, this freed the whole experience from clutches of personal expectation...
As someone who was first saved by the theater, which was introduced to me by my former stepfather, David, when I was around 6 years old and somehow wangled my way into watching him rehearse You Can't Take It With You with the Portland Community Players (Maine). I loved sitting next to the director and helping him time the scenes. I also had a fabulous childhood aha experience of going back stage and seeing that the stairs that seemed to go upstairs, when behind the flat, went back down. Ohhhh, that was a thrill.
The theater became a sacred space for me for many years after that, a place I could go and feel like I was a human being, when most places I just felt awkward. I started directing at age 16 - though had some attempts at directing - first when I was 8 or 9 years old and tried to direct an Easter play for grammar school, but then that was tragically cancelled when Judy Tanucci pushed Susan Farrell off the stage - alas an early career thwarted....But the fact is, until I could get some serious help - for issues related to childhood traumas - the theater saved me. So, why not again? And, of course, where else would the healing from probably the most singularly traumatic event of my childhood but the theater?
So, another round of thanks, not only for the artistry involved but also for helping me move from one place to another, to all the artists involved (Ian W. Hill, director and designer with Berit Johnson assisting and running the show, actors John Amir, David Arthur Bachman, Olivia Baseman, Derrick Peterson, Alyssa Simon and Stephanie Willing and the audiences who came to witness this event. I am so moved by all of it - not to mention the amazing reviews (see last post for those). A specific audience shout-out to my former stepfather, David (the one who brought me into the theater), who had the guts to come and watch this show, because some of the events involved him (including saving me from what was most likely a near-death experience). He said the show helped him see the events from my perspective, which meant so much to me, and could not have been easy.
Most importantly of all, however, at the end of every night, I could come home to my beloved Canadian, John, who was able to hold my hand through the first show and come to another one later on, but every night when I got home from the theater, held me through whatever my response was at the show. To have someone so close, so loving, so present during this process was unbelievably healing. Hard to believe that in a few days, it'll be only two years since we stumbled upon one another on OKCupid of all place. John has been the saving grace of my life these past two years. I could have probably stumbled through life without him, but having such a strong ground to stand on makes taking these more dangerous deep sea journeys possible and makes life seem like a glorious and boundless adventure.
So, tonight, I am full of gratitude for so many people in my life and artistic successes and journeys I don't know if I could have undertaken even a few years ago, but mostly - and I don't even care how corny this is going to sound - for love. Real love, unconditional love. The best thing in the entire world ever. And, in this case, in a very specific form, my beloved husband, John.
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.