On the 1st of June 2017, I clicked publish on a project I had spent nearly a year making. It was the best and most ambitious thing I had made.
Three months later I — to all intents and purposes — “resigned” from the internet. I stopped making my own videos and posting about them; I closed up my Patreon campaign and switched my website to a single page of plain text. There was almost no way to contact me.
As much as I tried to dress it up to other people, my creative-self felt mortally wounded by the response the project had received, quite clearly measurable in the numbers of cancelled subscriptions.
The prevailing wisdom for dealing with a setback like this is to allow yourself one day to wallow in the sadness - and then get back to work.
I needed more than a day.
A long winter
I lost all confidence in my creative taste and instincts. I wanted to disappear, to be invisible. As I look back on it, the overwhelming emotion I felt was shame - even though I had nothing to be ashamed of.
The only public-facing thing I felt able to start was this little letter, which I have never promoted or shared (if you’re one of the few hundred people who’ve signed up, I don’t know how you got here!)
In ways I have only recently realised, I have spent much of the last five years in a kind of creative bereavement, nursing a wound without ever acknowledging my loss.
It has taken me a long while but once I was able to recognise this grief, I realised something else almost immediately: I want to be out of it.
All of that is to announce some important changes to The Third Something newsletter and my creative work in the months ahead.
First, a new website! 🖥️
I have spent the winter months1 rebuilding my website from the ground up. Gone is the single page of plain text and in its place a colourful visual stage for the work I’m most proud of.
Is a website redesign a bit of frivolous procrastination? Probably2. But it feels like an important step: a digital declaration of my intent to share my work more enthusiastically built on a growing faith that my art is worth sharing.
I hope you’ll take a look around!
Second, a Third Something archive! 💌
While rebuilding my website, I created a permanent archive for this newsletter, one that is much easier to explore than the Substack platform.
You can now find each letter simply by typing this address and then adding the three digit number of the letter. For example, this letter lives at:
Moreover, I have given each letter tags so you can explore the archive by topic, such as screenwriting, graphic novels, drawing — or, if you’re so inclined — relive the Covid pandemic through The Third Something!
Some of these 110 letters are good and helpful and inspiring and I’d like them to have a life beyond the Sunday they were fired into your inboxes.
Hosting my archive means I own both the content and the distribution. I believe owning my shit is a fundamental principle of how I want to go forward as an artist. As much as is realistic in this world, I will bias towards distribution I control.
I will still use Substack to deliver these letters for the time being, but from next Sunday the email from me will contain a link to the letter on my website.
Thirdly, a new project! ✈️
On Tuesday morning, I am boarding my first flight in more than two years. I am locking myself away in a hotel room for a week to write and draw some new stories, just for you.
I don’t want to say too much about this project yet — chiefly because I don’t know what it will insist on becoming — but I will share my process with you here, on Sundays.
“It is a joy to be hidden” writes D.W. Winnicott, “and a disaster not to be found.”
Five years is a really long time.
I want to be seen again.
Spring is here!
It’s been a…journey…making this website. I built it first with the widely praised Ghost platform, which almost immediately stopped working. I had to rebuild it from scratch and switched to the website builder Hugo. A one month project stretched to 10 weeks. But I am very happy with the final result! ↩︎
Until another Sunday soon,