The Third Something

103 / Curiosity And Courage

A challenging question to begin your new year.

A two-page spread from a comic short story by Adam Westbrook in ink and watercolour

I like to start every year with Elizabeth Gilbert1.

Big Magic is still, in my opinion, the best book a creative person need keep close at hand (and if you subscribe to the Calm app, she has a wonderful audio masterclass on creative living, based on the book.)

Big Magic begins with a chapter on courage and she asks us: “do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

That hunt for treasure is creative living.

Reading this always makes me think: what if I have everything I need to live the creative life I want? What if the only thing I’m missing is the courage to do it?

So the question I would like to ask you today, as a new year opens up before you, is this:

What does courage look like to you this year?

How might you take up your space in 2022?

If courage is shooting 100% of the shots…what are are the shots?

I’ll go first.

Two pages from a short story by Adam Westbrook in pencil

Last year, I wrote and drew 15 short stories in my sketchbooks. Some are just a page long, others fill 30 pages; some are in ink and watercolour, others just pencil outlines.

These little stories took me to some weird and vulnerable places in me I’ve never explored before.

Drawing my stories has been quietly transformative; it has given me a lot of creative satisfaction…but I’ve only ever shown them to C, under the strict instructions that she tell me only nice things.

So courage for me this year is sharing those stories with other people; and I think that means with you, in this newsletter.

And I don’t mind telling you, I’m straight-up terrified.

As an indication of how terrified, last month I came this close to relaunching my YouTube channel: a herculean effort in the name of not sharing these stories. Fear doesn’t just make you cry in the corner, it also makes you consider becoming an influencer.

Two pages from another short story by Adam Westbrook in coloured pencil

So that’s courage for me. I’d love to know what courage looks like for you this year. It could be creative courage, or it might be in some other arena of your life.

If you feel like telling me about it, reply to this email2. If you’re happy for me to share, perhaps I’ll compile everyone’s responses — a compendium of courage! — next week.

  1. I’d like to say thank you for all the kind emails I received after letter #102. Apart from a lingering cough and the occasional shortage of breath we’re both feeling much better! ↩︎

  2. I can share with your first name or a pseudonym, it’s up to you. I’ll aim to include every reply I receive until next Saturday (January 8th). ↩︎

Until another Sunday soon,

Adam's signature