My Place in the Spiral weaves together photography, feminism, and literary criticism. In her dynamic multi-genre, hybrid text that investigates the way our pasts inform our future selves, Beardsall opens up the family photo album to search for answers.
The result is an intriguing journey through family dynamics, religion, and mother-daughter relationships. Threads of familial connection come together in My Place in the Spiral, creating an understanding of how our lives mirror a spiral. Bearing witness to experiences reverberating through generations, Beardsall explores the echoes of time between the present and the past, family, and self, rootedness and displacement.
Excerpt from Rebecca’s talk at NonfictioNOW 2021:
A spiral goes on forever. It is unending. It can be more than a narrative tool to journey into one’s self, or one’s obsession – it can also be a movement of time. Spiral time is a fluid way of moving into the past, back to the future, and lingering in the present.
During my time in Aotearoa New Zealand, I realized my way of looking at time wasn’t unusual; instead, it was just different from my culture’s understanding of time. (Or willingness to look at, let alone acknowledge, the past). Strict adherence to linear time separates us from our ancestors and ignores the actions of the past and their consequences.
So how can someone who is a settler, nonindigenous, still take a step into the spiral? – The spiral forces us to look into the past, it doesn’t presuppose a victorious end, it asks us to reconnect with our ancestors across time and space, and to understand relational histories.
A spiral narrative provides the space to allow for the fluidity of time while forming the neverending movement around an obsession, an inner quest, a familial connection making it a form that lends itself to nonfiction and memoir. And as someone who is obsessed with the ways time works, I continually return to the spiral format in my writing and as a way to connect to my past, my ancestors, the land in which I live, and our stories.