Last month the moment I’d been putting off finally arrived and it was time to write. How is it that the blank page upon which something influenced by time spent in Beckett’s archive is to be written, seems even more horrifyingly blank than usual? At any rate, after some suffering, much cursing and endless deleting, three short pieces emerged: two performance and one prose/performance. Not plays, definitely not plays, but also not stories, or not in the usual sense. I can’t pin them to a single work of Beckett’s, but an influential contender is certainly, almost inevitably, Not I. However, only in so far as this is where Beckett cleared space for the female voice, unhindered by psychology, sociology, physicality or even history to surge through. So, in line with my evolving practice of appropriating what I admire in other writers’ work – Sarah Kane’s unapologetic confrontationalism for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, Dostoyevsky’s epic, tragic monologues for The Lesser Bohemians – this is what I stole from Beckett; the stripping away of all justification to reveal a deeper truth. I hope the pieces will succeed on their own terms, of course but if not, we all know what the man himself has to say about that.
Multi-award-winning author Eimear McBride is Reading’s first Beckett Creative Fellow, and has been given unique access to our internationally important Beckett Archive – the largest collection of publicly accessible Samuel Beckett materials in the world. This is her latest monthly journal entry about her experiences of working with the materials.