I don't know what else to call it. I go into some kind of place where I write a lot every day. This place has many little cubby areas where a bunch of people, including me, are beavering away at writing projects. We sit there and write ... and write ... and write.
I have become addicted to this place, because (a) it's quiet - except for every once in a while there's an annoying person who sniffles a lot (not as in crying, as in has a cold and for some reason doesn't understand the world includes tissues) or clicks a pen...but these people are at a minimum (and FYI - male - the women somehow all seem to be able to stay quiet - as do, to be fair, most of the men), (b) everyone else's focus seems to help mine and (c) somehow even though no one is checking on me I feel guilty if I'm not actually writing. When I need a break, I go out to the kitchen and get a coffee or tea, heat up some food, whatever, chat to my new cell-I mean writing-mates.
Because of this focus, the writing is moving ahead at a brisk clip. The words are piling up, as they have been all along, but also other things are happening - synchronistic things, the more mysterious things that start happening when Something is taking shape...it still feels like early stages in some ways - even though I'm close to a rough draft now (at over 225K words, I certainly freaking hope so) - the shape of what this will become is only now coming into view - and it comes in and out - still not entirely clear - but that's OK.
And this is the best part: it seems like that's OK - for perhaps the first time - and I don't even want to write this because I'm sure I'll jinx it and tomorrow I will go back and think What a Dump! So, we'll just say to hedge bets - for today - for today it's OK. (I've been writing about the ins and outs of all the self-hatred, fears and in some cases just emotional pain due to subject matter that has gone into this day by day on the evil that is Facebook - so this is an overview more or less...)
In the middle of the writing, FYI, John, my beloved Canadian and I had a lovely Valentine's Day back at Bread and Yoga - doing a Thai Partner Massage workshop that ended with homemade chocolate tasting. Can you imagine anything better? It was as great as it sounds. And we did need it, even though we were the creaky oldsters, we managed...
This is important, too, to this process: the pauses to rejuvenate - gather energies, but also need the relentless moving forward - it's a balance.
I saw an amazing documentary from 1982 about James Baldwin retracing the steps of the Civil Rights movement from the 1950s forward - it's called Heard it Through the Grapevine and if you can find a way to see it, you should. More relevant now than ever. This served to remind me of what 1980-81 looked like (when the film was being shot) in the US, among many other things. And what a weird ass time that was....from Carter to Reagan...the end of one era (FDR) into another - an era that began in 1980 and in which we still live...God help us and When Dear Lord does the pendulum swing back? Please tell me...but anyway, it's an amazing film and should be required viewing in every high school and college in the US. If you haven't read Baldwin, just do it. If you want to understand the US and especially racial politics in the US, it's a must...he does way more than that, but he was more clear-sighted than most on these issues...
This all relates, because of so many strands of my grandmothers' lives, but too tired to go into all of those right now (plus that will be in the book)...
However, I will tell you my realization about Nietzsche - which I'm sure you're all dying to know - and it's this: his whole thing about beyond good and evil (and about the inability to judge anyone because there is no place from which you can stand to do so - and there is no way to judge without isolating someone else's action from the course of their entire life and all that has affected that person and led to that particular action)...is directly related to what any great art does. If you are writing or creating anything that involves stories about human beings - even if what they have done is horrendous - you can't just stand outside and judge them. If you do that, you become a moralist, but you are not creating great art. Great art happens in the place where all judgment - as in standing outside and tut-tutting - ceases. It also means letting go of all resentment (which was another big Nietzschean no-no - bwahahahahaha - but still...), because that stands in the way of clear seeing.
I seriously doubt I am anywhere near the first person to see or say this, but the realization had a profound effect on me, because it affirms not only the challenges of being a deeply flawed granddaughter writing a book about my deeply flawed grandmothers but also my whole PhD thesis (about theater/art being an act of philosophy and art usually being out ahead of philosophy...etc.)
But even more than any of that is what it implies for living, too. How important it is to find a way to see clearly without searching for an illusory moral high ground from which you think you can fling your judgements hither and yon and in order to be considered Wise or at least Clever.
Is that an ideal? Sure as shit it is, but it's one worth shooting for. I think this is also what Virginia Woolf was on about when she was saying it would take women 100 years (from when she wrote A Room of One's Own) to write something as incandescent as Shakespeare, because there would be a need for women to be able to stand on their own two feet without fear or favor...without having to simply be in a rage over their own status...This is troublesome politically of course in many ways to contemplate, but there is some truth to it. There is a certain level of serenity needed to write or create anything with clarity that does not fall into some form of self-justification or ego-feeding. What creates the soil for that serenity/clarity can be argued, but there does need to be a still point out of which all the rest can emerge.
OK, I'm now babbling and it's 3:30 a.m. so it's time to wrap this up...but a book is on the way, my friends, at least there is that...this rough beast is indeed slouching towards - well - me, I suppose - waiting to be born...
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.