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I confessA literature festival started inour small West Country city. Placed not to tread on the toes of Hay and Cheltenham, andat half term to rule out unruly schoolkids, the festival has a low-key, middlebrow charm and, of course, competitions.I was thrilled to be telephoned and told that a tale of mine had won third prize. John Bayley was to be there, lecturing, and Iris Murdoch (‘If she is well enough,’ said Mrs Chairperson darkly) would present the prizes. Aflutter at this launch of my literary career, I shook the famous hand and accepted the white envelope. Then therewas wine and mingling and congratulations, and Dame Iris wandered over to the trio of short story winners. She looked worried and windswept, and waited for us to speak to her. ‘I’ve never heard of you,’ said First Prize somewhat bluntly.I cringed. ‘Do you write short stories?’Dame Iris looked lost. ‘No, not stories. Not short stories. I’ve written books,’ she replied gently.‘Oh yes,’ I gushed, incoherent with obsequiousness. ‘I love your novels. I haven’t read the latest one, I’m afraid, can’t afford hardbacks, but I have all your early ones.’She smiled and asked, ‘Which ones?’‘Oh,’ I gasped, gripped by total brain failure, ‘the early ones, The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook and...’She remained silent, looking puzzled. John Bayley nudged his way through the circle and took her elbow, offering tea. She turned gratefully to go with him. On the way home I realised what I’d done, like a drench of iced water, the purest senseof shame. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t spend the £50. Now I know, as I did not then, about her Alzheimer’s, I feel even worse that I added to her confusion.LINDSAY STANIFORTH has had poems, short stories and two children’s books published, but this is her first piece in mslexia. A retired teacher, she lives in an old lunatic asylum and is working on her second novel.To submit your creative non- fiction confession (up to 300 words) see p80WONDER WOMAN’S WOMEN On 2 June this year the first big-budget superhero film with a female lead inover a decade will be released. Wonder Woman has been yearsin the making, with newsabout attempts to develop a theatrical release as far backas 1996. In the film that will finally reach our cinemas, women have carried a lot of influence behind the scenes: the director, Patty Jenkins, is a woman; two of its producers,all those in casting, alongsidea number in production design and art direction are women. But the script and story were ultimately written by men, after Michelle MacLaren – who was involved in shaping the earliest script and was originally set.... Short Story Heroes continuedwhat I want is two or three pages leading up to a deadbody. Don’t show us the actual body. Don’t tell us there’s going to be a body. End the story with us knowing there is going to be a dead body. Got it?’The astonishing end of this story, which I am not going to give away, reveals how a story that might at first seem haphazard has, in fact, been invisibly crafted and beautifully structured.In ‘Mijito’ a teenage girl from Mexico finds herselfalone in LA, unable to speakthe language, with a husband in prison and a sick baby. The compassion Berlin feels towards this rather feckless characteris breathtaking. Skilfully and poignantly expressing the themes and circumstancesof this story, the homeless, frightened teenager reviewsthe list of words she knows into direct – stepped down over creative differences. As Kwame Opam notes in an article for The Verge, there’s no shortageof women screenwriters that could have been brought in: surely a film ‘about a powerful woman surrounded by powerful women... demands input from at least one person who knows what it’s like to be a woman’.WRITERS LAB 2017 The window for script submissionsto the Writers Lab closes on 31 March. Run by IRIS (a collective of women filmmakers) andNew York Women in Film & Television, Writers Lab was established in 2015 and funded by Meryl Streep. The Lab brings together eight professional female filmmakers and 12 promising scripts from women screenwriters over age 40, foran intensive four-day retreat. The programme, the only oneof its kind in the world, aimsto increase opportunities for female screenwriters over 40 and provide a springboard to the next stage of production. The retreat takes place in mid-September. Unfortunately it only currentlyEnglish in an attempt to comfort herself:‘Kentucky Fry, hamburger, asshole, Pampers, How much?, fuck a duck, children, hospital, stopit, shaddup, hello, I’m sorry, inguinal hernia, pre-op, post-up, food stamps, money, car, crack, Miami Vice...’Berlin’s autobiographical stories move backwards and forwards in time, mixing past and present in a dizzying deconstructed, yet exhilarating, way – with sentence fragments, recurring characters, unexpected word choices and unpredictable images.While comparable to that of other great writers, Berlin’s work is really unlike anything I’ve ever come across before. Readingthis collection was a tipsy, almost hallucinogenic experience for me. Do, please, try it for yourself. ❐accepts entries from US citizens and residents. Get submitting, US mslexics! www.thewriterslab.nycSECRET PLAYWRIGHT The woman writer of a show at the Royal Court, London, has spoken of the liberating effect of writing anonymously. Manwatching isa monologue about female heterosexual desire. Every show will be performed by a different male comedian, sight unseen. Each piece reflects on the woman playwright’s sexual adventures, preferences and fantasies,and the male performer must negotiate the text moment by moment. Marcus Brigstocke, who performed at the show’s original run at the 2015 Edinburghfringe, said it addresses societal judgements of women’s sexual desire: where men’s desire is considered natural, women’s desire is treated with suspicion. The writer’s decision to remain anonymous lies in her beliefthat this allows any woman to take ownership of the show’s message. Manwatching will run from 10-20 May.EMILY OWENSa storythat might seem haphazard has been invisibly crafted and beautifully structuredMARGARET WILKINSON is a prose, stage and radio writer. Her short stories have been widely published and her radio playshave beenbroadcaston BBCRadio 4. Sheis a SeniorLectureron the MAin CreativeWriting atNewcastleUniversity.70 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaWHAT'S NEWSCRIPT

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