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Ebb and flow : re-writing the past through the filter of traumatic memory
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Leanne Dodd
Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke - Julian Barnes. What if those dreams were nightmares and those memories haunted you in your waking hours? Drawing on the concept of the ‘primal wounding’ of the child and the unconscious splitting of the personality (Firman & Gila, 1997) as the focus for my creative work, Ebb and Flow is a mystery crime novel offering a re-writing of the past through the filter of traumatic memory. Dissociation is the lens through which I show the ghost of my protagonist’s past trauma and its effects on her present behaviour, which ultimately implicates her as a suspect in an investigation to locate her missing daughter.Theorists suggest while trauma is relived literally in the nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of its victims, its lack of integration into the consciousness of victims thereby restricts access to it (Caruth,1995). Due to this inherent latency of trauma, the protagonist’s past will be interpreted through two voices, Ebb’s which carries the wound and Flow’s which represses it. An extract from Ebb and Flow is used to illustrate how narrative strategies that mimic the symptoms of trauma, such as fragmentation and repetition (Whitehead, 2004), can be aligned with the fast-paced linear narrative and literary devices typical of the crime novel. The aim is to create an original hybrid novel that re-writes the traumatic past and offers opportunities for readers and writers of crime fiction to work through and come to terms with traumatic events.