Dark Angels Note 97

Dearest Friends,

This week we hear from Writer and Executive Coach, Margaret Kenna. 


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

Two things. Firstly, I am writing a business book, commissioned by Profile Books called Giving Good Feedback for their ‘Economist Edge’ series. It is the first time I have tried business writing. It feels quite different to creative writing and it has been fun finding a new voice. It is also great having an actual book commission. “I must go and write my book for The Economist now,” I say, swishing off to my work room, scattering vibes of importance as I go. I like to think the family are suitably impressed, even if they do not look up from their phones. Regardless, I am going to hang on to that swagger long after the book is finished. The loveliest thing about the book commission is working with my editor, Clare Grist Taylor, as I go along.  The process feels much less isolating than drafting a novel. The book is due at the end of the October, which seemed a long time away when I agreed to it but is fast disappearing. I have to keep to a structure to get the writing done, hence the important swishing.

Secondly, I am working on a novel that the Sales Director at Profile Books generously promised to read. We were both at a drinks party at the time, so she may be regretting the offer by now. It is acting as a useful push, nonetheless, to polish the novel up and get some professional comments (could she actually imagine selling it, being a useful starting point). This is the pitch for said novel, if anyone reading this newsletter would like to offer any comments:

When We Are Silent is a mystery with supernatural hints. Jane lives in a perfect world in North London, where everyone has designer kitchens and the term “parent” is used as an extremely active verb “to parent” with expected outcomes, rather than as a description of a relationship. But Jane isn’t like the other parents, and she has a dark secret in her past which she will do virtually anything to forget. She moves to a new house, with an eerie atmosphere and begins to hear and see strange things. Jane doesn’t believe in ghosts and tries to ignore it all. But the dead won’t go away and creep closer and closer. Jane is forced to choose between the past and the present and speak about her secret. And she begins to understand that the perfect North London world is not so perfect after all.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

On my travels recently I stayed in a posh hotel where they put poems on your bed at turn down time. (I know! They were even printed on a little scroll, tied up with a ribbon and left on the pillow.) My favourite was Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I recommend reading this poem, as a calming aid, whenever you are dealing with some difficult life event. I can’t decide if my favourite line from the poem is: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence,” or “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” Last week, I picked up in a second-hand bookshop Stardust by Neil Gaiman, which is a lovely read, beautifully written and takes you into a different world. (Also, much better than the film, obviously.)


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

The famous John Simmons, saying (something like) getting stuck is part of the creative process, so we should stop seeing it as getting stuck, and just view it as a natural stage in the process, go with it, it will lead to more creativity.


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

See above. Channel my inner John Simmons and go for a walk.


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

I usually read very quickly so initially thinking something chunky? Dickens? Tolstoy? But then if I were stuck on an island, I wonder if it would it feel like lockdown when I just didn’t have the mental capacity to get through anything complex? Just in case, I’ll go for a poetry anthology, Clive James’ the Fire of Joy, or an anthology like A Poem for Everyday of the Year edited by Allie Esiri. Then I can keep the little grey cells working and entertain myself at the same time, by learning poems off by heart and declaiming them to the waves.


Thank you Margaret. Two books on the go absolutely merits peak swagger. 



Weekly Tuesday Gatherings
Join us for a lovely hour of reading, writing and communing led by Neil Baker. Everyone is welcome; in fact invite a friend along. We meet at 7pm UK time. To join us, click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on. 


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

From everyone at Dark Angels


Also published on Medium.