.48 The Future of This Letter

To begin, a quick PSA: on Friday night, after what has been a dreadful week, I finished work and treated myself to my favourite comfort activity: an old movie (Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress 👌) and a takeaway.

At about 11.30pm a loud ringing pierced the air - the carbon monoxide alarm had detected dangerous levels in the apartment. Cue an hour standing outside in the freezing cold, waiting for an emergency engineer to come and switch our gas supply off.

Carbon monoxide is clear and doesn’t smell of anything; it forms when a boiler, gas cooker or wood fire is not combusting properly - and it can kill you.

It’s a bigger risk this time of year when people crank up their boilers for the winter. So if you have a carbon monoxide detector take a moment to test it - and if you don’t - get one! They cost about £10/$15 and might just save your life.


What I really wanted to write to you about today is this letter and its future.

When I sent #1 back on January 6th, the plan was to write 52 letters and with just four left, I’m wondering about what to do next. Here are some ideas I’ve been mulling, in no particular order:

  • One option is to keep doing what I am doing, which is fine except sometimes I feel the letter has morphed - particularly on weeks like this - into little more than a blog post that just happens to be sent by email. I really didn’t want to get back into blogging so this doesn’t feel like the right approach.

  • A second option is to give it more focus: pitch a tent and just write to you about visual storytelling or videos or something. But I’ve found two things in the last 47 weeks: firstly, I don’t enjoy writing about the technique as much as I thought I would; and secondly you guys don’t seem to enjoy reading it that much either!

  • Substack, the platform that publishes this letter, is pushing hard for people like me to add a paid tier to our newsletters and encourage readers to become paying subscribers. I have considered maybe calving the practical visual storytelling advice off into a paid subscription, but again, I’m not sure there’s the appetite for it. My experience with Patreon taught me that as soon as I start charging for my work, the magic disappears.

  • Fourthly, and maybe this is the option that excites me most, I think what I would love for this letter to be is a record of my creative output, simply: ‘here’s what I’ve made this week’. Of course this actually requires me to create something new each week, but in the last couple of months, as you have seen, I am drawing more and more, and loving it.

Honestly, I haven’t made any decisions yet and right now I’d love to hear from you. What have you enjoyed about The Third Something this year? Are there letters you keep coming back to? And is there anything you don’t like? If there’s an option above that you feel strongly about, I’d love to know. You can just hit reply to this email.


This little letter has been one of the consistent highlights in an otherwise *complicated* year.

I have absolutely loved writing to you and receiving your messages. As the months have passed, people in my ‘real life’ have gotten wind of the letter and signed up and so it’s unexpectedly become a way of growing closer to friends and family too.

So it will continue in some form in 2020, I promise

I’m sorry for such an admin letter - normal service resumes next week, including a new video I’ve just finished!

Until next Sunday,