Patchwork quilt: writing towards the there-not-there of family secrets with Hélène Cixous
The reader is invited to view the piecing together of a patchwork quilt. Unfurling carefully tacked-together professional, academic and domestic family stories, the quilt is created from disparate pieces of writing material which come together to show-and-tell a writing-story. Methodologically informed by a deconstructive approach, this writing-story illustrates how writing to inquire with Hélène Cixous écriture féminine leads the researcher to engage with family stories and, in particular, how she is pulled towards the storying around a tragic event that takes place decades before her birth. There is a deliberate turn towards the feminine body as a way of knowing-in-tension as a series of evocative stories grapple with and bring to life Cixousian concepts in the practice of a method of writing to inquire which is seen to be alive, vital and dangerous. As feminine writing takes on the role of transgressive data, the patchwork quilt illustrates that whilst fly-steal-writing with Cixous takes the researcher on nomadic-adventurous writing-journeys, ultimately, in her coming-to-writing, she is destined to be homeward bound: challenged by writing to approach her birth home, to claim her inheritance and to touch-feel and explore a muffled harrowing scream and an unsayable fear which emerge from and through her texts. Recognising she has always already known this sound and fear which have fallen through gaps and cracks of well-told stories, becoming secrets, as they are simultaneously kept by family women from each other but also silently passed between each other, the researcher visits Cixous’ ‘Three Schools of Writing’ to paint a picture of the lives of over five generations of women from a Scottish mining town. Psychoanalytic, sociological and folklore literature is drawn upon as the patchwork quilt comes together to explore the unbearable silenced pain from past generations that has called out for justice as it seeks to be heard, voiced and acknowledged so it can be put to rest.