Dark Angels Note 74

Welcome back to our weekly Dark Angels Note.

This week we hear from Customer Language expert and our man in Dublin, Mike Gogan.

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

Working full time as a writer in a bank leaves little time or energy for writing creatively. I’d like to say I’m working on a novel, but sometimes the day to day is what occupies us most, so I’m going to be unglamorous and tell you about what puts bread on my table. I spent some of today writing a guide to help customers make more environmentally-sound choices for improving their homes. Then, I put the finishing touches to some letter templates about closing branches and turning others into cashless outlets. Tone is everything in these communications. Honesty, a little humility and humanity all serve to avoid that corporate arrogance so ubiquitous in commercial writing.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

I’m really enjoying a lovely little book that was recommended to me by a colleague. It’s Gyles Brandreth’s Have you Eaten Grandma? – one of those guides to grammar and punctuation. It’s got belly-laugh humour and entertaining asides for a subject that could easily be dry. But then I like this sort of thing. It’s on my desk and I’ve got several vanity-crushing, ‘You think you know it all‘, post-it notes sticking out of it.


3. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever read or received? / 4. Share one thing you do when you get stuck.

I’m going to answer both these questions with a single response. Mark Epstein, the US therapist, Buddhist and writer said, “Relax the mind into that invisible space where you are who you’ve always been”. I interpret this as writing advice, to realise that the mind has all the content it needs to write something and to trust ourselves that when we get stuck, we’re probably overwhelmed by the noise of that content. So take a break, a breath, and when we return the content will still be there, ready and slightly more organised having been left to its own devices without the attention.


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

I’m guessing I’ll be on that island a while, so I’ll bring James Joyce’s Ulysses with me thank you very much. People who know me, know I love this book. I’ve been reading and rereading it since my early twenties and I can continue doing so on that island and never get bored of it. Why? I have a personal connection to it in growing up near the tower at which the opening scene takes place. But more so for the fact that when it was first published in 1922, it redefined the novel. Ulysses is not a story in the traditional sense of having a beginning, middle and end. Instead it describes just a single uneventful day in the lives of two men whose separate paths converge briefly. The storytelling is ordinarily real yet extraordinarily imaginative. In this book Joyce wrote something encyclopaedic, moving, funny, stylish and groundbreaking at the time for its insight into being human.

I’m packed, what time is my flight?


Thanks so much, Mike. Glad to see the unwavering commitment to the Joycean cause is as strong as ever 😉.


Seasons’ Greetings

If you haven’t got round to getting your copy of Seasons’ Greetings just yet, there’s still time. It’s a flawless book in every way; writing, design and production. A limited edition, numbered and signed for £40, it makes for a very thoughtful gift. Get yours here.


Dark Angels Gatherings

Our Tuesday night gatherings are off and running once again. 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.