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In conversation: Richard Pelletier and John Simmons

In which John Simmons and Richard Pelletier chat about a new novel from John, staying productive as a writer, social media, and reading.

Richard:
John, you’ve just published The Good Messenger. Early reports are highly favorable and congratulations are in order. You’ve got another in the works. How do you stay so productive in the age of social media? What’s your schedule? Do you write every day? Do you set word count goals?

John:
I suspect my answer will disappoint those creative writing gurus who seem to recommend a monastic approach with set hours and recommendations of ‘get up early, do two hours before the rest of the household wakes up’. I am far less disciplined in my writing habits – with one exception.

First, I don’t impose a daily requirement to write on myself. That doesn’t mean I forget – a new book is always in my head, but forcing words out is not productive. I carry a notebook around and I make notes. That can happen at times when a notebook isn’t to hand, for example when I’m out running. I find my Sunday morning run (about an hour) is always a good space for thinking about my novel. It requires memory and instant resort to the notebook as soon as I reach home. The one exception I mentioned is that I always work for a few hours on Friday evenings – it’s a habit that dates back 30+ years. I look forward to it as I write better then than any other time of the week.

Most of the week I’m working on other projects: copywriting, running workshops, brand consultancy, organising projects for 26 etc, etc. Social media is a natural part of that world. I like a lot of it, but try not to get caught up in unproductive encounters.

Richard:
Despite the fact that you say you are far less disciplined than the tyrants who tell us all what we should be doing, you’re doing something right. You keep kicking out new books. You’ve made a huge contribution to the lives of many writers on matters of language and constraints and creativity. I think you have something else to offer your community of writers—how you, John Simmons, work.

John:

John Simmons, at work, surrounded by Dark Angels.

Much of it, I think, comes down to experience. The more I write, the more I can write. The more I write books, the more books I can write. Many people are daunted by the thought of writing a book, so it looks like an enormous obstacle to overcome. I want people to get past that obstacle so, as well as my individual books, I’m proud to have made it possible for many (hundreds?) to become published authors as contributors to books for Dark Angels and 26.

There’s also ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’. I rarely turn down any invitation to write. I have terrible work habits – I’m rarely unavailable. I take holidays, but I stay in touch through emails, Twitter etc. I’m an electric plug always on. Things happen, invitations come in, I respond. I don’t have an ‘out of office’ message. When I’m doing something that I love, why would I want to avoid it? It’s an aspect of my mantra ‘Only connect’.

Part of this is working on several projects at the same time. Diversity of work stimulates me, and I often find that projects magically feed into each other, and they spark new ideas.

But we’re all different. I wouldn’t recommend my way to anyone and I’m sure you have a completely different approach. We each have to find our own way. What’s yours?

Richard:

Richard Pelletier in his new writing shed, not writing, frozen into rigor mortis by the arrival of yet another John Simmons novel.

I’m pretty undisciplined myself, except when I’m not. As far as my own writing goes, depends on the project. For our book Established: Lessons from the world’s oldest companies, I was so head over heels in love with that story, and I was so determined to tell it well, I wanted to work on it all the time, and so I did. As you know, I’ve been working on a novel since before the Big Bang. Once I’ve decided I’m back into it, I can hit it hard and consistently for long periods and get a lot done. Where I get stuck on that project is that I want separate and special blocks of time only for that. And if I have set that up and I begin, I’m good. But when that bridge falls, as it inevitably does, it’s hell getting it back up again.

I’m not a word count person, but I often work in three or four hour spans. I use an app called Focus Booster. It clocks your working sessions in 25 minute chunks. Then you get a five minute break, then you’re back on the 25 minute clock.

So I’m curious about you and social media. Only (and always!) connect. I’m interested how it affects your reading. All of us, are more or less struggling to read as much as we once did. How are you faring in these distracting times? When do you fit reading in?

John:
Your app sounds like my idea of hell. Which just proves ‘We each find our own way’. I find my own way with social media and I’ve found twitter useful for marketing, occasionally research, and some serendipitous connections that I always love – for example with the Basque community about my Spanish Crossings novel and the story behind the story.

I wish I were a better reader, I wish I read more books. I did most of my reading when I was young and no longer have the attention span for reading that I once had. But I believe in the importance of reading, more than ever. In recent years I’ve been reading with the purpose of informing my writing.

So, for example, three important works of fiction behind The Good Messenger are The Wind in the Willows, The Go-Between and Mrs Dalloway. They’ve all been important books earlier in my life (such a joy to reconnect with them); they had stayed in my memory, like old friends, and now they’ve inspired my latest writing.

Richard:

Reconnecting with beloved books is one of life’s most sublime pleasures. I’m about to reconnect with Foster, a beautiful, beautiful novella by Claire Keegan. Gillian Colhoun gave me her copy of this book (along with a hair-raising tale of the author) when we were at Moniack Mhor. I see this young girl, in a house that is not hers; I see her in the kitchen helping with chores, I see the fields, and the garden, and her father in the kitchen as he leaves his daughter…

Postscript: In poking around the Simmons twitter feed for this conversation, I made the startling discovery that not only do John and I have wives with the same name, worship Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, cook from the same cookbook, we also both revere the last Raymond Carver book, A New Path to the Waterfall.

In conversation: Craig Watson and Therese Kieran

[Having recovered from a boisterous and wonderous gathering of Dark Angels at Hawkwood College, Craig Watson and Therese Kieran discuss the lighter side…]

CRAIG:

The incomparable Mr. Watson

When we did the Oxford Masterclass together last year, Gillian Colhoun introduced you as a poet. Later that weekend, when you shared your ‘personal piece’, I understood why. After three days of intensive writing and a hearty supper at High Table, I only recall that your poem had more snap, crackle and pop than a bucketful of Rice Krispies and that I fell a little bit in love with you as you read it!

But it was your other poem – the one John asked you to reprise at Hawkwood as an example of some of the great writing produced on Dark Angels courses – that really struck me. You wrote the first section before you flew to Aracena for the Advanced course and, amid the comedy, you convey a clear sense of trepidation for what might lie in store.

So, with reference to your own experience of Dark Angels, and for the benefit of anybody thinking about attending a course, can you tell us why we ought to be afraid?!

THERESE:

She who is always in the light, poet Therese Kieran

Hah! Great opening question Craig. The obvious response is that one ought not to be afraid, and I’m sure not everyone is. In fact, there must be lots of Dark Angels newbies who bound up to their first course like excited puppies.

Think about it: there’s a certain mystique about the courses. Advance information is kept to a minimum and relates mostly to where, who and why, with little indication about exactly what you’ll be doing. This is one of the key strengths and I’d urge anyone thinking of doing a course to arrive curious and eager for the blank page. And there’s another anxiety. What will you fill your blank pages with? How will you fare? Will you be outranked and face the imposter syndrome plank? Will you buckle under pressure and run for the emotional-wreck-step? Will you survive the nightly imbibing, the communal set-up, the pairings and sharing of words?

Well the truth of the matter is not only did I survive, I thrived. And I’m not going to lie, I carried a lump in my throat sometimes, shed the odd bucket of tears too, but that’s me – my mother used to say that my bladder was too close to my eyes…!

But what about you, Craig? Did you have any pre-course anxieties? As I asked in my Hawkwood poem, ‘What did you expect?’

CRAIG:

It wasn’t so much pre-course as just after I got there: everything’s alien and I’m trying to suss out this bunch of weirdos – probably literary-genius-weirdos – that I’ll be spending the next few days with. I start to relax when there’s no crummy corporate icebreaker demanding some ‘interesting fact’ (these were always a trial for me until I had a pee with Suggs). Before long, my ‘vert’ decides it’s okay to lean extro, but the chitinous armour stays fastened. As the exercises progress, civility cedes to vulnerability until, about two courses in, I’m finally prepared to expose the wizened lump of gristle that serves as a heart.

How would you describe the peculiar brand of magic that is Dark Angels?

THERESE:

There’s no hard sell, simply the promise of something special. Introductions are gentle, no fuss; employ a ‘come sit by the fire’ approach that puts you at ease almost immediately. Place plays an important role in every Dark Angels course and adds to the adventure. From Moniack Mhor’s remote hill-topped croft above Inverness to the brightly coloured Finca el Tornero in Aracena; then to the time-worn grandeur of Merton College, Oxford and more recently to savour mid-summer like never before at Hawkwood College, a giant beehive nestled among Cotswold valleys. Each one offers specialities of the season and locale designed to support the transition to an immersive process that is completely different from everyone’s day-to-day. So that’s the first spell.

Next there’s the informal manner in which we are invited to partake in proceedings. And yes, the ‘crummy corporate ice-breaker’ is banished! There’s no platform upon which to assert one’s literary or business accomplishments; no CVs, just BE – be who you are. There are a few common denominators – that we share a love of words and a goal to be better writers – but there’s never an agenda, a pack, a name badge, a PowerPoint presentation or an evaluation questionnaire. These seem alien to Dark Angels’ ethos. But in the absence of such corporate norms lies a clue to expect the unexpected; be prepared for surprises – which is also how and why the magic happens. None of it would have been possible without the combined talents and individuality of its founding triumvirate – aka John, Jamie and Stuart – whose ingenuity, attention to detail, respect for everyone and general bonhomie drives writers to aim for the very best they can deliver on each task.

So yes, there’s magic – in people, place, purpose and play. But how do you resurrect the magic once you’ve returned to ‘normality’? Do you have a little piece of Dark Angels gold that sustains you?

CRAIG:

Actually, it’s bronze: a small statue, like the three wise monkeys – but with John, Stuart and Jamie – all sitting together cross-legged on my writing desk. Most nights, I’ll stay up till 4am tidying away the leftover wine, then I’ll rise at dawn and sing a few rounds of Ubi Caritas before knocking out a couple of screenplays, a short story, three haiku, a sonnet and six minutes of automatic writing; all before showering, shaving and shouting at the kids…

Aye, right! But I’m not sure I ever quite got back to ‘normality’, even before I got roped in on the business side of things. Our three founders certainly conjured up something special and, frankly, the magic deserves to be spread more widely than they can manage by themselves between book launches, festival appearances and the like! So, we’re making efforts to offer and fill more courses (which is a sure-fire way for folk to maintain the Dark Angels buzz) and we hope to get a bit less haphazard in how we keep in touch with our ever-expanding choir.

A consequence of this corporatisation is that we’re obliged to track our ‘net promoter score’, which means you’ll have to finish up by completing a short evaluation form summarising your Dark Angels journey as pithily as possible. The choice of form is up to you.

THERESE:

Craig, ‘corporatisation’, ‘net promoter score’?! I sense some slippage. Quick, get yourself signed up for a Dark Angels one-day refresher course!

I’ll give you a freshly-brewed sestude, exactly 62 words, that sums up where I think the journey has taken me thus far, but not before saying how wonderful it’s been to chat about Dark Angels with YOU and to thank you for making me laugh (again and again). Were it not for Dark Angels, this would never have happened.

Out of the Dark, This

To consider my purpose
to discover I am not the main event
but a conduit, the glue, a bridge
an unmarked crossing left off a map
vital to those who find it
useful, reliable, secure
fit for purpose and more
A brilliant misnomer
for there is light, always
in sign or slight suggestion
in head and heart connection
in conversations held, dear

In conversation: Ted Leonhardt & Richard Pelletier

Short story. A few short days ago, US Dark Angel Richard Pelletier and Ted Leonhardt, held an event at Folio. It’s a lovely private library, perfect to discuss some great topics. Dark Angels’ new book, Established: Lessons from the world’s oldest companies, writing, business, branding, and story. Ted was accompanied by his lovely new bride Robin, and Richard brought n’er do wells from his childhood who mostly behaved. Ted and Richard love talking to each other so much about stories they just kept talking.

Richard Pelletier & Ted Leonhardt

Richard:
Ted, we had a wonderful public conversation at Folio recently. One question that we didn’t explore was this. How do storytelling and language work on people? In terms of pure bottom-line calculations—how do stories and language make a difference? You’re a keen observer of the business world. What’s taking place when stories succeed?

Ted:
“Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl who was very quick but she had a hard time staying focused on a single subject. Her parents loved her deeply but didn’t think they should pay to send her to a top school. So even though she was their first born when it became time for her to enter a university they…”

Well told stories make us feel something. They get our attention by creating a deep need that holds our attention. A need to satisfy the itch that the storyteller creates by giving us just enough that we’re compelled to continue the journey. The potency of story is in how it establishes a deep need within that compels  us to continue to follow the thread. Once caught by the storyteller, we must find out more.

I’ve always used stories to attract clients. The stories I tell are my only form of direct outreach. In the late nineties, I did a lot of public speaking. My talks were illustrated by stories about people: how they affected the world around them and how that world shaped them.

Bottom line: My storytelling helped my company, The Leonhardt Group, grow to $10 million in sales.

My interest has always been in how we connect and persuade. In the last few years, I’ve started writing my stories as well as telling them. And in the process, I’ve built an active following through social media and email that’s resulted in a small, but growing consulting practice.

When stories succeed, the reader or listener forms a bond of trust with the teller. This trust lives on a subconscious level; it removes some of the natural barriers that exist between strangers. Reader and writer become closer through the shared experience of the story. The shared story seems to remove some of the “fear of the other” that separate and divide one person from another.

Stories also sort people into those who identify with the story and the storyteller and those who do not. I like to say “I’m not right for everyone, but I’m just right for you.” Stories prequalify people into those who feel a fit with me and those who don’t.

Richard:
I like where you say that when stories work, they help remove natural barriers and fear of the other. These are terrific insights. I remember reading another piece of yours that touches on barriers and fear of the other.

I’m talking about your take on creatives – how they’re wired and how that puts them at a particular disadvantage as they prepare to work with or negotiate with tough-minded, and maybe tightfisted, clients. Can you talk about that? You’re onto something there.

Ted:
Here’s the core of it. Our self-worth, our self-esteem, is all tied up with the work we do, in a not-so-tidy bundle. This results in feelings of extreme vulnerability whenever our work becomes the center of a transaction. The vulnerability can produce stress – sometimes extreme stress. When we’re negotiating a fee for creative work or a salary for a creative position, these feelings can be so disturbing that we’ll roll over, give in or not ask for what we need, just to reduce the anxieties.

On the other hand, we love the work we do. We get great personal pleasure from doing it. In fact, we get so much pleasure from doing the work that we’ll give it away for the recognition – for the opportunity to do more creative work. This isn’t a productive state of mind when we’re negotiating either.

I’m a creative.

I’ve struggled with this my whole life, and I’ve discovered that I’m not alone. Now my work is dedicated to helping creatives get their fair share. And I’ve learned a thing or two about how to retain my vulnerability and still get the money and respect I need.

Through my own experience and through helping hundreds of creatives use their intuition effectively at the bargaining table, I’ve come to believe that understanding what seem to be our top three vulnerabilities is our greatest strength:

1. It’s never good enough. We always think our work could be a little bit better if we could spend just a few more minutes, hours, days or years on it. Wishing it could be better undermines our ability to ask for top dollar.

2. We’re not motivated by money. We’re motivated by the work and the opportunity to do more work. Not a great mindset when fees are the issue.

3. We’re more empathetic than others*. It’s the empathy we pour into our work that makes it appealing to others. It’s the emotional impact our work has on others that our clients want from us. But our empathy makes us feel our own fears and anxieties more acutely. So when we’re negotiating fees with an MBA or a purchasing agent or some other accomplished linear thinker, we’re at a severe disadvantage and we tend to give in.

Our work helps people change their minds, discover new ideas, buy things and take action. We creatives break down barriers and chart new courses.

Our contribution is worth money. But when clients bargain with us, we allow them to take advantage of our willingness – eagerness, even – to get on with doing the work and past the uncomfortable feelings of negotiating the deal. Once this dynamic is understood, we can maintain our essential vulnerability and still get what we need to succeed for our clients and ourselves.

*In their book, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, co-writers Scott Barry Kaufman, and Carolyn Gregoire, cite the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples that link creative traits and empathy.

Ted:
Here’s a question for you, Richard. You’ve worked with corporate communicators from all over the world. You know how to tell stories that capture our interest, hold our attention and our hearts. And you’ve run into the difficulties of getting clients to tell it like it is.

You know that jargon and spin are the stink that turns off readers. What are the best ways to get senior executives to tell their stories with openness and honesty?

Richard:
So, I’m imagining a speaking gig. A group of senior execs. They’ve come to learn why they should think hard about telling stories. Here’s my opening shot:

Right now, there’s a small army of hungry, talented word wranglers circling your offices. They’re eager to dig deep, to summon everything they’ve got. Imagination and empathy; emotion and precision. Clarity. Research and data. PASSION. ENTHUSIASM. They want to light a fire in the heart of your audience. They want to tell stories. Only one problem. You. You won’t let them. Oh, you’ll invite them in. You’ll make nice, make them comfortable. You might even listen patiently over coffee. You will seduce them. “Hmm, that sounds interesting. I’m liking the sounds of this.” But in the end, you won’t do anything different. You will still bore the pants off all of us while you crush our souls to dust.

Unless I can persuade you of a few things.

First, that the world has changed. Marketing as you’ve known it has run its course. It’s dead. And second, the only chance you’ve got to survive and thrive—the only chance any of us have—is to tell the truth. To stop the boasting, the assertions, the leading provider of this, the unique, socially conscious global leader of that.

Stories are how humans transmit and reveal who we are, how we operate, and, what matters to us. Stories are how we connect. When you leave here today, you’re going to say, “there was my life before I heard all this, and there’s my life now.”

So everybody buckle up, because first we’re going to look at the science…and it will blow your mind, what I’m gonna tell you…

 

The Missing Link?

Dark Angels is the world’s only residential creative writing programme for business. It exists to help people consider the language they use in the world of work, master their approach to writing and create imaginative, engaging and, above all, stronger human connections.

Founded 12 years ago by John Simmons, Stuart Delves and Jamie Jauncey, Dark Angels has evolved into something quite magical for those who have experienced the courses. The company is now at a pivotal stage of growth and transition. With a new team of Associate Partners in place and an ambitious business plan primed and ready for action, the time is right to find a word-loving, talented bod to help make it happen.

This is a freelance role – devising fun and creative marketing ideas, content marketing and planning, social and digital media management, lead generation and general marketing support. All of this with the freedom to shape and extend the role over time. Take a look at the more detailed job description. If this sounds like the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, we want to hear from you.

Send your CV, portfolio of relevant experience and a cover letter explaining why you’d be a perfect fit to gillian@designwriter.com before 25th March 2018.


In More Detail

Sales & Marketing Role*

  • The kind of things you’d do:
  • Develop imaginative marketing campaigns.
    Build a content strategy that will communicate the benefits and
    experience of Dark Angels’ open and bespoke writing
    programmes.
  • Define and co-ordinate a content marketing calendar in line with
    Dark Angels’ brand message and tone of voice.
  • Manage and co-ordinate content for all media channels including
    website, newsletter and social platforms.
  • Develop a sales pipeline by creating wider awareness of open and
    corporate programmes through SEO friendly content across
    these channels.
  • Work within the team to spot and nurture direct leads
    specifically within the corporate learning space.
  • Create and manage a CRM database.
  • Provide ongoing adhoc sales and marketing support.
  • Measure and report on the marketing hits and misses.We reckon that you:
  • Have a real passion for writing in all its form and glory.
  • Have about 5+ years’ experience in marketing (ideally training)
    with at least some of that being digital and content related.
  • Get how digital content and lead generation works.
  • Aren’t intimidated by selling to large corporate organisations (in
    fact, you probably relish the challenge).
  • Can comfortably multi-task – managing different projects and
    deadlines at once.
  • Are goal-oriented, results-driven and love to exceed a monthly
    target.You’d be part of something special:
  • A collegiate, spirited and supportive company of people.
  • An amazing network of inspirational alumni (many of whom are
    now friends and colleagues).
  • A sincere desire to help others find their voice.

*This role is for 16 hours a month and can be done from pretty much
anywhere. From time to time, there will be a requirement to attend meetings in various UK locations.

In conversation: Doug Howatt & Richard Pelletier

This past October saw the first ever Dark Angels workshop held in America. The American Foundation Course, led by tutors John Simmons and Richard Pelletier, took place over the Columbus Day weekend near New Bedford, Mass, home (for a while) to Herman Melville and Frederick Douglass. Ricketson’s Point House (see below) was our home for the weekend. Below, Richard chats with Doug Howatt, a Californian who was first to sign up. He was joined by John Jordan, Jessie Rump, John Burwell, Claire Bodanis, and Kristen Strauss.

RICHARD:
Doug, you’ve been working professionally for a while. What was going on that made you seek out a workshop when you did? And why did you settle on Dark Angels?

Doug Howatt, Creative Director, Writing Hitachi Vantara – Dark Angel

DOUG:
I’ve always had a desire and some aptitude for writing, which I nurtured with my career in marketing until I landed a dedicated writing and editing role eight years ago. I did well but knew that professional structure would give me perspective to enhance my writing and explain or defend it more successfully. All I could find online were programs with clickbait promises that I could live the dream of freelance writing with a six-figure income and no boss. I was not impressed. Soon I stumbled on rave reviews on Twitter of the Dark Angels courses. I looked them up and was captured by the focus on business writing. Unfortunately, at the time the courses were all in Europe and, I was in California. I continued to see very positive reviews and checked back every so often until earlier this year I saw that an American Foundation course was available. I signed up right away.

RICHARD:
All hail Twitter! And your persistence! I’m wondering about expectations. You write for a large corporation. Can you explain your thinking around what you hoped to gain specifically and how that might fit into your work at Hitachi?

DOUG:
I suppose I wanted new perspectives on my writing. Certainly, my marketing career gives me good perceptions of what makes copy good and how it should fit in with the rest of good marketing. But I also know the dangers of relying solely on my own experience and my own conclusions. In the heartache of wrestling with my words, or defending them against well-intentioned “help,” I sometimes wanted more ways to think about my writing. Call them principles, guidelines and strategies to break through my own barriers and, to explain and defend my work. It’s not a matter of large versus small companies. It’s a matter of arranging the letters on the page the best way I can.

{ Ricketson’s Point House ~ photography by @jbj51merc }

Did Dark Angels fulfill these rather unspecific expectations? Remarkably so. Among many insights, I saw the value of my own personal engagement in the copy. I learned that there need not be a wall dividing business writing from literature and private writing – they all have a place in the broad spectrum. I learned that the buzzwords of “authenticity” and “transparency” have honest roots in the vulnerability and humanity we need in branded content. The course – actually, you, John Simmons and my fellow fledgling Dark Angels – gave me quite a boost for my writing at work and at home.

{ The house at Ricketson’s point ~  photo by @jbj51merc }

RICHARD:
This is great to hear — it’s what we hope for. I’ve had similar reactions, having been on both sides. I love “it’s a matter of arranging the letters on the page the best way I can.” I mentioned large corporations because it’s my sense (perhaps this is unfair) that it’s a steep challenge to persuade the C suite to embrace what we advocate in Dark Angels workshops. I wonder what your experience has been on this score. Have you been able to bring some Dark Angels magic into the projects you’re working on? And can you tell me about that in a haiku?

DOUG:
Haiku? Ever the Dark Angel instructor, aren’t you! Here you go:

Early, filled with hope.
Green light to write colleague tales.
Steps turn into strides.

You’re right that things are harder – though perhaps “slower” is the right idea – in a large company. There are more people to convince and train, and more things to write and rewrite. But the initial reaction from my managers has been enthusiastic. The Dark Angels magic has helped me frame a big new program of stories about our people, though nothing has seen the light of day just yet. I also recognize that I’ll never influence all the content that 10,000 employees produce, but I think I have a good shot at the important brand content.

Is that how you see the Dark Angels influence spread among your clients?

{ Listen: six Dark Angels, six haikus. }

RICHARD:
It varies, but we’ve consistently heard from people who been through the experience, that it was a big deal for them, even life-changing. We’re now doing more in-house corporate workshops and those seem to provide as much inspiration as the residential version. So if you had to say, and I’m asking you now to look back on our time in October, what were three highlights from that weekend that you can put into a 62-word sestude?

DOUG:
1. I was astonished to learn that our guest speaker, author and brand expert Larry Vincent, uses unlikely literary forms such as the Malayan pantoum to discover and develop messages for his clients. He asks writers to work a brand’s top messages into the complicated repeating form and frequently finds fresh ways to express the brand’s ideas. This really is applying literature to business.

2. I discovered the power of my own words when I read them aloud to the group and more than once found myself choking up, with tears flowing. It shows the safe environment you and John Simmons created that weekend and the strength of the writing exercises you gave us. Of course, we laughed a lot, too. Quite a lot, in fact.

3. The biggest highlight for me was a rediscovered passion for writing. Yes, I learned tools and perspectives that I can apply back at work. But seeing other writers – masters and word wrights – playing with words and ideas, discussing literature and how words work made quite an impression on me. It changed writing from an intellectual challenge back to an emotional joy.

Richard:
Thanks, Doug. This was brilliant and fun. We’re running the American Foundation Course again next fall, so tell your friends. 🙂

{ Interior of Ricketson’s Point House ~ photo by @jbj51merc }

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