Dark Angels Note 78

Dearest Friends,

Welcome back to our weekly Dark Angels Note. This week we’re waving a vigorous ‘hello’  across the Atlantic to US Dark Angel, Doug Howatt.


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

Most of my writing is for work. That’s webpages, banner ads, blogs and such. I have a few personal writing projects that spend more time on the shelf than I’d like. One of them is a short, personal observation of time perception. I’ve found that as I get older, my sense of Now grows with me, still including things that happened years ago. It may be why we of a certain age talk about movies and songs that are long gone. They are vibrant and current for us even if less experienced generations giggle at us for seeming to be out of touch.

I’m also participating in an online Dark Angels course with its variety of writing projects and exercises. As I write these and other short pieces, I’ve begun to follow Richard Pelletier’s advice that writing should be published. I’ve built a presence on Medium to “publish” my personal writing, though I don’t promote it and most of it remains unread. Still, I’ve found it’s important to call a piece finished and actually send it out.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

I really enjoyed Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. Despite its easy, flowing narrative it’s a very disciplined story with every detail integral to the whole. As a writer, I found it both inspirational and daunting.


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

1. Start.
2. Continue.
The first words I write are usually bad. But it’s so much easier to improve them if they’re written. I really don’t want to compose final drafts in my head. Often by simply starting, I discover ideas and patterns that I can focus my efforts on.


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

I don’t get stuck, really. Though I’m often writing really awful stuff that I’ll soon revise (See “1. Start. 2. Continue,” above.) My day job doesn’t give me much time for each project, so I have to start with whatever I’ve got, then improve from there until time’s up. I find it useful to apply that to my personal writing, though I’m a pretty easy taskmaster on myself.


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

I’d love to list erudite tomes to make my reputation here glow. But looking at my bookshelf, I realize the book that I would most like to read over and over again is The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson, Volumes 1 and 2. It’s a book of one-panel satirical cartoons. Think “New Yorker cartoons.” Of course, they’re funny. But they also encapsulate our modern culture, which seems like a good topic for a stranded person. And the cartoons have the compelling advantage of very quick reading. I imagine I’d be quite busy with all the FedEx boxes to guard and that chatterbox, Wilson.


Thank you, Doug. Senses of Now sounds like a great title for a piece of writing. No doubt you’ll find a whole new audience on Medium, now we know you’re there.




Want to support young kids fall in love with writing?
We received the following note from fellow Dark Angel, Lucy Beevor. Please help if you can spare a moment:

Fighting Words Northern Ireland is the brainchild of Roddy Doyle. It’s a charity dedicated to giving every young person in Northern Ireland the chance to write creatively. Writing is an essential skill, the bedrock of education. But it is also about joy and imagination, getting to know themselves and the world around them. ‘When I walked into the Fighting Words workshop I knew I couldn’t write a story and when I walked out I knew I could.’ (secondary school pupil).

Ecclesiastical Giving is giving away £120,000 in £1,000 grants between 6th-17th December and we’d be so grateful if you would vote for Fighting Words NI. It’s super easy to do and will take you 30 seconds :

Go to Movement For Good
Click Nominate a Charity Now
Search for charity name or number – type in Fighting Words Northern Ireland
Charity type – Education and skills

For Fighting Words  to be included in the first draw, your nomination must be made by midnight Sunday 5th December but if you can do it at any point before 17th December we’ll still be in with a chance. Every £ we raise from donations goes to support our creative writing workshops with children and young people across NI.

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.