Dark Angels Note 69

Dearest Friends,

Welcome back to our weekly Dark Angels Note.

This week we hear from Dark Angels bestie, Nick Parker.


1. Tell us about something you’re working on right now. 

My website. My bloody website. We’re all always working on our websites, aren’t we? I half-remember someone once saying ‘if you’re not embarrassed by your website, you’re not changing fast enough’. I scoffed at the time, but it’s true innit. I’m doing it to try and solve the connundrum of how I bring together the different strands of what I do – my agency / client work, Voicebox (a tone of voice method wot I made), my weekly newsletter (sign up!), and have somewhere to put things like On Reading (wot I wrote a few months ago). They’re all scattered all over the place at the moment. I also realised I’d write more if I had a place to actually post stuff. God, that’s a boring admin kind of answer isn’t it. I should just have said ‘a poem, but it’s a secret’.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

Ohhhh blimey. The essay In Praise of Shadows by mid-century Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki is a wonder. It’s notionally about aesthetics — and how Japanese houses and things were designed to look their best in shadow and candlelight. But like all the best writing it’s really sort of about everything. Also, the Japanese essay ‘form’ is more meandering and less structured than we’re used to, which is pleasing. Also, it’s short. Which means you’re more likely to read it if you click and Buy The Damn Book. (That’s advice from On Reading, that is.)


3. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever read or received? 

Two things. First, ‘write more like you speak’. I’d been writing in that way for years and years, but without ever noticing that’s what I was doing. And sometimes I’d get hopelessly stuck trying to figure out a ‘nice’ way of saying something. When someone finally pointed out that what I was doing was ‘making it sound like speech’ it was ridiculously obvious and helpful. Also, not advice exactly, but reading Francis-Noel Thomas’s book Clear and Simple as the Truth – which explains both the power and the artifice of ‘classic prose style’ (what we’d generally call ‘good writing’) was also super enlightening. (Ironically, it’s quite a dense and repetitive book.)


4. Share one thing you do when you get stuck.

I ‘lower my standards and keep going’. Which I think is advice from the poet William Stafford, which I learned on a Dark Angels course from Neil Baker!


5. What’s your desert island book and why? 

So, I’d be terrible at picking a desert island book. I’m always massively over-ambitious whenever I go on holiday and think ooh great, loads of time to read! Take one of those doorstop tomes you’ve been meaning to get round to… then I end up not reading Middlemarch or Ulysses again for another year. I’d probs be better just taking Remy Charlip’s Arm in Arm, which was my favourite book as a kid.

Thanks Nick. And if you haven’t already, sign up for that newsletter. It’s Friday self-gifting at its Parkerish best.


Dark Angels Online Advanced Course

Good news! Jamie Jauncey and Richard Pelletier are reprising their wondrously pan-continental Advanced Online Writing Course this Autumn. Join them for a guided journey into language and storytelling. Enjoy a mix of live online sessions, fast-paced writing exercises with time built-in to work on a personal piece of writing.

Two-hour sessions, twice a week, for one month.
Dates: each Monday and Thursday, November 8 – December 2
Time: UK 5.30 – 7.30 PM; US E Coast 12.30 – 2.30 PM; US W Coast 9.30 – 11.30 AM
Fee: £795 / E895 / $1095


October Starter Day 

On 20th October at London’s October Gallery, John and Neil plan to host an in-person day of writing. This course is designed as a first step into the world of Dark Angels. But if you’ve worked with us before and just need a day of face-to-face wordy creativity, we’re happy to give returning angels a 25% discount. We also have one 50% discount spot for a scholar – that’s someone new to writing or can’t afford the full fee. Spread the word.

Timings: 09:30 – 16:30
Fee: £475

Interested in either of these courses or a scholarship place? Contact Susanne.


Dark Angels Gatherings

We restarted our Tuesday night gatherings. Same time as before (7.00-8.00pm in the UK), but with a new Zoom link. If you fancy an hour of connection and reflection in the company of other Dark Angels, you’d be very welcome; bring a friend too.

Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..

From everyone at Dark Angels

Also published on Medium.