Two years ago, against all the odds, 15 Dark Angels wrote and published a collective novel. Keeping Mum was a project that could very easily have come unstuck, but it didn’t and we were rightly proud of what might even have been a world first.
It wasn’t high art, but it was a good story well told, and I believe it deserved, and continues to deserve, a wider audience than it got. I guess it suffered from the misperception that it was a gimmick and so wasn’t to be taken seriously. But then Dark Angels has a habit of breaking the mould: whoever would have thought that creative-writing-in-business courses could prove such a hit?
Yet they have. And last summer we expanded our network with the addition of nine new associate angels. Now, with one in Seattle and one in Canberra, we encircle the globe and world domination is only a matter of time …
On which subject – time, that is – we are also now in the process of collectively writing another book. Established sets out the lessons to be learned by modern businesses from 12 of the world’s oldest companies. From multi-national corporations to small family businesses, they all have one thing in common. They have somehow managed to keep going, in several cases from the Middle Ages, into an era when new business survival rates are enough to deter most people from the very thought of starting something up.
The majority of our subjects were founded in pre-industrial days, yet here they are still thriving in the digital age. An inn, a removals company, a butchers, a ferry, a printing press, a bell foundry, a wine merchants, a stone carvers, a scale makers, a brewers, an agricultural company, a gum manufacturer. What are the secrets of their longevity? Some owe it to having stuck to their knitting, others to diversification. Most have had to duck and weave. All have at some point had big personalities in the background. Many have enjoyed a healthy dose of luck. And each has something slightly different to say about their survival.
In Keeping Mum each writer was responsible for a single character and their part in the story from start to end. This involved editing on a Herculean scale to achieve a seamlessly stitched end result. With 12 writers, 12 companies and a chapter each, Established is a much more straightforward task. We’re currently editing the first draft and in true Dark Angels style, the emphasis is on telling each story in as entertaining a way as possible.
As with Keeping Mum, our publisher is Unbound, the ground-breaking crowd-sourced publisher of books such as Letters of Note and The Wake, the first ever crowd-funded novel to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. As of this week Established is up on the Unbound website and we now need pledges to make it a reality. There’s a video of Stuart Delves talking about the book, a description and a sample chapter. You can click here to visit the Unbound site.
If you like what you find there, please pledge your support and help us get Established into print. There’s no end to what we can learn about, and from, the world of business.
There are still places available on our next The Stories We Tell foundation weekend, 9/10 April – a spring tune-up for winter-weary hearts and minds. Click here for more information.