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 as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While was blessed for the opportunity, after four years of being an adjunct, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in NYC 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. As of 2018, I also started leading writing retreats to my beloved Orkney Islands. If you ever want two weeks that will restore your soul and give you time and space to write, get in touch. I am leading two retreats this year in July and September.

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 now work full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, editor and writing retreat leader. 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

In 2017, I launched a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. You can also contact me through that site.

I am now directing again, my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which you can find on the sidebar. Someday, I will have a website, but for now, you can find a lot about me on here. Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

If you know where you're going, it isn't anywhere new...




The above photo was taken in a bathroom stall in the Tate Modern in London in 2011 by my friend Alison Blunt. I have kept it on my computer for years. All the publications, readings (of plays and prose) and coaching offers (for those of you who want to brave your own souls and would like some company along the way) are not for the faint of heart. You wouldn't be on my mailing list if you were faint of heart. So, let us agree...

Faint heart never won yet. 

Nothing worth doing is easy, but when in the midst of one's creative process there is great joy. I experience that joy, too, when seeing, hearing, experiencing work created from the 
depth of another's soul, heart, and gifts. Below are offerings, of work by me and others - and invitations for you to do the same - not by offering you a generic formula but guiding you to hold space for your own voice to emerge, which will not look or sound like anyone else's. Because it's yours.

If you know where you are going, it isn't anywhere new. 

We are being told and sold ways to conform and consume, not how to create or live outside a commercial sphere. I think it's pretty obvious this hasn't brought us anywhere particularly good. So, let's get lost. The weather's fine...


SOME PLACES TO BEGIN...  
Sunday, June 3 at 5pm is a staged reading of SHIT, which was chosen for IATI's 2018 Cimientos play development series. SHIT is a meditation and a rage-cry about powerlessness and violence, both public and private. IATI is at 64 East 4th Street, right next to LaMama. Directed by Nina Fry, with amazing cast: John Amir, Mia Y. Anderson, Roy Koshy, Alyssa Simon and Eva van Dok. Don't miss this. It's gonna be special.
Tuesday, June 5 at 8pm the fabulous women of my Inwood Writers' Workshop (IWW) will be reading at the delicious Tannat Wine & Cheese (natural wine and rustic cuisine). On 4736 Broadway across from Fort Tryon Park near Thayer Street (A or 1 to Dyckman)...hope you can join us to hear some kick-ass women read brand new stuff while munching on some goodies and having a glass of wine if you like.
Sunday, June 17 at 7pm is a reading of my newest play inspired by #metoo On the edge of/a cure at Inwood Art Work's Culture Hub, 440 W. 202 Street. Amazing month of work curated here by Aaron Simms, proud to be a part of it. If in area, visit any time in June!
In May, two of my stage texts, CUT UP (1997) and Future Worlds: Tricorn Init! (2004) were published on a fabulous online journal TL;DR as poetry. I am happy they are finding new audiences in the virtual world, and that the new editor, Bri Esposito, was so enthusiastic about these texts, especially since she is younger than me. Gives me hope!

Meanwhile...after a successful year of leading workshops (three 10-week sessions) and having readings such as the one on June 5, INWOOD WRITING WORKSHOP  will restart in September 2018. Because I believe in highly personalized workshops, I am keeping the groups small. Because I believe in accessibility, the tuition is affordable. If you are interested, email me, and I will send you the details. I may also teach a weekend intensive in August for summer "start-me-up camp"...speaking of which I have some new... 

Coaching and Editing Packages
(best deals for my bespoke services - though custom packages available)

COME HELL OR HIGH WATER...If you need a push to get your manuscript finished - you know the one - you've started it and filed it away or you have it in the back of your mind, and it's that thing you are going to write some day. Well, that day is NOW. As Doris Lessing said, "Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible." Doris Lessing left school at the age of 14 to go work as a legal secretary and then went on to win the Nobel Prize, so I think we can trust her... And sometimes the way to make yourself complete that manuscript is have someone hold you accountable. In this package, we agree on a time by which your draft manuscript will be complete. It can be anywhere from 3 months to a year from when we begin working together. For $2,000 I will work with you to completion and do a manuscript review at the end. Depending on length of time, we will decide on times to do live coaching (in person or Skype or phone) and when to email. You will promise to finish your manuscript. I will be on you to do that. No excuses. GET. IT. DONE. Come hell or high water.

STAND BY ME... You already are knee-deep into a manuscript and you really want someone to look at what you have and give you guidance in how to shape this crazy thing. You might even have a complete draft. You have a vision, but you want company and an outside eye for your revisions. You don't need a coach as much as you need an editor, but sometimes a little coaching could be nice. For $1,500 I'll help you get from A to B to refine your project. We will define what "B" is for you before we start and come up with a plan to get there. 

START ME UP... OK, so that all sounds scary but you really want to get that writing project started, the one that haunts you, that vision you know is inside you but you just aren't sure where or how to start to let it out. You want someone to give you permission to start finding your own  voice and read some of your words to give you feedback. For $500, I can offer this coaching. We agree on the time-frame and get you started with a project, make sure your writing habits are grooved in, and you have an action plan to finish. (You can then graduate to Come Hell or High Water or Stand By Me if you want...but this is a way to step gradually into the pool...)


Sure that sounds great, Julia, but why should I trust you? 

Glad you asked! Here is a small sample of lovely words from writers I've taught, coached, and edited:


"You know that book project you've seen me typing about recently? I'd been stuck on it for five-plus years until I realized Julia Lee Barclay-Morton could help me — and I expect to have a proposal to my agent by later winter or early spring. Working with her in November changed everything. My book went from something I just wanted to finish and get off my plate to something I can imagine being proud of, something I actually want to write and bring into the world. Writing a book *seems* like a thing you do alone. And maybe that works for some folks. For me, having Julia in my corner is my secret weapon, and I never want to have to power through without her again. If your writing project needs a secret weapon, too, I'm willing to share." - Orna Izakson

"I hired Julia Barclay-Morton as a manuscript reviewer for my long, sprawling novel. It was a complicated story with many characters. In addition to answering the many questions that I posed about continuity and character development, she gave me a thorough rundown of problems in tone, language usage, and plot. Not only that, Julia showed me what was right about the novel and how to bring out the best aspectsShe was a pleasure to work with. Being an editor/writer/teacher herself, Julia has a keen eye and excellent ear. I cannot recommend her services enough." Elisa DeCarlo

"I had been struggling with my project for over a year and made more progress in the ten weeks than in all the preceding months. I started with a story to tell but without the skills to make it real. I finished with a sense of direction and having for the first time experienced satisfaction with what I had written. I will be back for the next session and look forward to the continued support of a group that provides loving and constructive feedback." - Rosette Evans

"Julia Lee Barclay-Morton is a gifted editor, writer, reviewer. I hired her for her manuscript review services and am so pleased with her work, relentless in exposing the problems--and pointing toward solutions--in a problem-laden and complex manuscript. I highly recommend her. Your project would be in good hands and you would learn much to apply in future new work." - Vicky Gundrun

"Julia is a masterful writer and teacher. Her workshop was the perfect environment to finish my book." - Heather Greer

AND FINALLY....

The Orkney Islands (Scotland) writing retreat (July 7-22) is full but I will be leading more in 2019! 
 if you want to come to this magic place in 2019, get in touch. You can also put yourself on an informal waitlist for this year. If you want to give your writer self a gift, it doesn't get much better than this. Compared to most writing retreats, this is far less expensive, and I guarantee you with the wind, the clouds, the endless summer evenings wherein the sun doesn't set until 11:30pm, and the soft green hills where the Atlantic meeting the North Sea meet on which you can watch the shadows of the clouds glide across, you will be inspired to finish or begin projects you thought impossible. In this house in 2009, I wrote a PhD dissertation in four weeks, and last summer, I finished the rewrite of a novel in three weeks. This place is magic. If you want to secure a spot for 2019, get in touch. I may do two retreats if I can, so also if there is a time of year you would prefer, tell me that, too.

For more information on coaching and editing services, you can check out Barclay-Morton Editorial+Design, you follow me on my blog Somewhere in Transition, Twitter @wilheminapitfa or Facebook Julia Lee Barclay-Morton

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The war is over...and I don't know how to live outside a war zone

I have not written here in a while. But as I was walking along in Inwood Hill Park tonight where the Harlem and Hudson Rivers meet, and watching the reflection of the setting sun (the sun itself was behind the cliffs that rise up here on the top tip of Manhattan between the park and the Hudson where the old growth forest still grows), I could hear someone play an electric guitar...not particularly well, but enough to evoke the 1970s and evenings as a child, sometimes riding in people's vans or old cars, and the odd comfort of that, teenagers or young adults playing Led Zepplin and me in the back somewhere doing whatever, but not in charge and knowing somehow for that moment everything was OK.

I then remembered this realization I had the other day when I was meditating that yes indeed the war is over, but I have no idea how to live outside a war zone. I don't mean that literally in the sense of being in the middle of an actual shooting war (aside from the time we lived on 106th and Amsterdam back in the early 1990s when in fact there were many gun fights outside our window - some with automatic weapons - so bad the police would not show up because - and I quote - "we are outgunned")...but as a child, not guns, but other war zones - some violent physically, some mentally, some verbally, some emotionally, but it was always a crisis and starting as a very young child I had to have my shit together. For instance, my mother has told me, when I was a baby and she and my father would fight violently, so I would hold my breath until I turned blue, which would finally make them stop.

That kind of thing. Rinse. Repeat.

Shift characters, locations, details but the out of joint song in which I had to keep my shit together, be vigilant at all times, and therefore could rarely be a child remained the same.

So, yeah, no, I'm not what you would call laid back. All the yoga and meditation in the world can't undo that shit. It can Help. A lot. It can keep me from inflicting it on others, and at times if I'm lucky myself, but it's not precisely a good run up to peacetime living.

I'm not going to recite my childhood. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog or my plays can catch the gist, but the point remains: no tools to live in peacetime.

Which means all the time living on overdrive. Shocking that I became an alcoholic, I know (ha!). But what is a miracle is that I got sober at 23. And still am. At 54. That shit is weird. But even so, still, no windshield and not really, you know, laid back.

BUT the difference is - when I had this realization while meditating, this time I didn't think OH NO, I HAVE TO DOOOO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. I HAVE TO HAVE A 10-POINT ACTION PLAN TO DEFEAT MY CRAZINESS. No. I did not go through that. Instead, I just breathed and heard a gentle internal voice say: and that's all you need to know right now.

You don't have to DO anything about it.

Just let it settle in. And I am. And just this. The NOT doing, the letting it settle in, is changing my life. It's kind of a miracle. Not by trying to change my life. Instead by Not trying to change my life. The miracle of acceptance. You accept a thing, hold space for it, and voila, it changes. With no effort. If I resist it, it just gets bigger and more intractable.

And so now, somehow, when feelings I usually find excruciating come up - certain types of sadness or boredom or anxiety or whatever - instead of trying to run away, I just breathe them in. I hold space. I witness. I allow the feelings. I look and see what's there for me to see, feel, experience. And then, yes, it all changes. By not trying to change it.

It's bizarre.

Which is all by way of saying when I heard that guy playing the guitar, I let the pleasant kind of nostalgic memory of those peaceful moments in my childhood wash over me. I felt the nostalgia, the desire to be young again, to have life ahead of me instead of at least more than half in the rearview mirror, and also the knowledge that there were these moments of respite - for all the crazy and the crisis. And that while I might not know how to live outside a war zone, I can allow myself these moments and don't have to judge or overanalyze.

Of course it doesn't help these days how much actual crazy there is in the world and violence and rampant injustice and plain old meanness and cruelty. But the fact is in one form or other that's always been there. I can allow the feelings of powerlessness in and rage and all of it. I can act as I can act, which I do, politically. I can write sometimes, create theater, do my little part. I can spin out, I can step up, I can step aside, freak out, be calm, get angry, cry, wonder what the actual fuck, have a moment of calm, take a walk, stay under the covers, call someone, meditate, stay alone, go be with people, dance, do yoga, write, take a nap, watch stupid things on Netflix, write in this blog, submit work, get rejected, get accepted, feel accomplished, feel like a failure, feel loved, feel lonely, wonder again what the actual fuck, and then breathe and let it all in - when I remember to do so.

This is the gift of getting older, staying sober for a long time, meditating every day, doing yoga when I remember (not as much as I should in other words) and trying to be a decent person - I begin to be able to accept the whole package.

I was also thinking walking home: I want to live long, because I need to figure it out, and then I laughed when I heard an internal voice say: that'll only happen when you stop trying to figure it out. Which, like, of course. But what a seduction it is. For someone such as me anyway.

At night when lying down going to sleep with crystals on me (yes I've turned into That person - try not to hate me), and I sense, my God/dess, so much energy in my head, my mind churning and churning Trying to Figure It Out. And so little energy in the rest of my body. So then breathing into that mysterious rest of me - the part - pretty much all of it - that I routinely ignore. Letting the crystals bring me to those parts of my body. Wondering will I ever allow my body to be fully animated? I don't know. Part of the war zone thing, levels of dissociation I'm not sure will ever go away. It's waaaay better than it used to be. At least I know my body is here. I can even feel it sometimes. A number of years ago, I woke up more fully to my actual emotions (as opposed to the word facsimile cover story that masqueraded as such). But I have a feeling my physical body is the most resistant to my awareness and acceptance. I am only aware of Problems - either physical aches and pains or with How I Look (always wrong) etc. Not sure I will ever be able to embrace my corporeal self, but that's got to be Ok. I don't want to doom myself to this dissociation either. We'll see.

I can breathe now. I can at times be touched. Sometimes easier than others. But I have always been "touchy" - kind of prickly in a somewhat sneaky way. On the surface, I am warm, but it's a patina, something to a certain degree I taught myself how to do. But underneath there is the shrinking away scared little kid, never sure anyone or anything can be trusted and always ready to pick a fight. It's complex. I certainly don't think I'm alone in this.

I'm afraid to even write any of this and publish it in public. What will people THINK?! GASP! As if...but still.

So, here I am. This is me today. Tomorrow or the next day I will post a bunch of things with schedules of events, a staged reading and two readings, all in June. But this is a different post. So be it.

As the African prayer goes: It is. Thank you.

Even if that means I never do know how to live in peacetime. I am here. And there is beauty - and even moments of peace - in the midst of the ever whirring chaos in my brain and sometimes heart.