Activism Comics Memoir

Read Save It for Later

Read Save It for Later: Promises, Protest, and Parenthood by Nate Powell

In seven interwoven comics essays, author and graphic novelist Nate Powell addresses living in an era of what he calls “necessary protest.” Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest is Powell’s reflection on witnessing the collapse of discourse in real time while drawing the award-winning trilogy March, written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, this generation’s preeminent historical account of nonviolent revolution in the civil rights movement. Powell highlights both the danger of normalized paramilitary presence symbols in consumer pop culture, and the roles we play individually as we interact with our communities, families, and society at large.
Each essay tracks Powell’s journey from the night of the election—promising his four-year-old daughter that Trump will never win, to the reality of the authoritarian presidency, protesting the administration’s policies, and navigating the complications of teaching his children how to raise their own voices in a world that is becoming increasingly dangerous and more and more polarized. While six of the seven essays are new, unpublished work, Powell has also included “About Face,” a comics essay first published by Popula Online that swiftly went viral and inspired him to expand his work on Save It for Later. The seventh and final essay will contextualize the myriad events of 2020 with the previous four years—from the COVID-19 pandemic to global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to the 2020 presidential election itself—highlighting both the consistencies and inversions of widely shared experiences and observations amidst a massive social upheaval.
As Powell moves between subjective and objective experiences raising his children—depicted in their childhood innocence as imaginary anthropomorphic animals—he reveals the electrifying sense of trust and connection with neighbors and strangers in protest. He also explores how to equip young people with tools to best make their own noise as they grow up and help shape the direction and future of this country.

I found this more depressing than empowering — in that respect, I would point anyone to March over this (also, March is phenomenal). That’s not to say this is bad — it’s a very thoughtful, personal reflection on the Trump years (please say we’re done with them) and on raising children to understand social justice and protest in a world that is rapidly falling into fascism. The feeling of despair over watching America fall to fascists is certainly relatable, though I don’t agree with all of his perspectives or conclusions.

It’s unapologetically progressive, while also recognizing that each generation gets over more of its baggage and is able to deal with social justice better. That said, there were moments I wanted more from the essays — places where I’m seeing a conclusion that he didn’t quite commit to. What he sees is that his parents were complacent about racial injustice while he’s underestimated the powerful undercurrent of right wing hatred.

Throughout, the way he talks about fascists is infantilizing and dehumanizing, which I think is a mistake. While their views are evil and the way they act is dangerous, “a child’s power fantasy played out in adulthood, speaking only the language of power, the intellectual crudeness of reaction, contrarianism, opposition,” it’s vital to not turn fascists into monsters or people who are too immature to make their own decisions. To remember that these are regular people who have chosen this mindset of hatred and dominance. They are responsible for their choices.

I disagree with his viewpoint that in-person protest — marching — is the only way to make change. In recent years I’ve read more about mutual aid and the different parts we all have to play in change — for example, “Good Trouble” highlights the importance of behind the scenes organizers like people prepping food for the community and arranging rides, etc. Marching is important. So is building community and advocating for local policy and having difficult conversations and writing about issues.

The artwork is excellent. He uses a muted color palette and black backgrounds to strong effect. I liked the choice to illustrate his kids as unicorns, though I thought his oldest daughter looked older than I would have guessed.

Reflection Writing

Noise amongst the noise

Quoted The shapes of creative containers by marlee grace (Monday Monday)

the feeling of being noise amongst the noise

A fear for the modern world: to be noise when you want to be signal.

But you’ll always be noise to some. Better to focus on being signal for those open to receiving it.


I disagree with her lament that writing essays is of lesser value than long form work. I think they can build the long work, breaking down thinking into facets to explore (assuming you’re writing non-fiction). A concept enough for a book is a lot to hold in your head at once: breaking it apart makes it more tangible and manageable. I found this to be true in fiction writing too: the container Word gave me for thinking about a story only let me handle about 50k words before I lost the thread, while with Scrivener I can manage stories of 130k+. Folders, outline views, and color coding make all the difference for me.

I do share her challenge of prioritizing long form over essays, I think, sometimes, to my detriment. I let myself trade my novel writing time for blogging time earlier this week, when I felt a welling up of ideas. It was a relief to unburden myself of buzzing ideas. To take the glimmering of potential and feel out its real shape and substance — because sometimes an idea is less than we imagine when put in writing, and sometimes it is so much more than we expected.

In a sense, translating thoughts into writing is our personal form of transmuting mental noise to signal. I think grace comes around to this too: “Sometimes I skip a Monday [newsletter] though and it’s like my whole week doesn’t make as much sense.”


Read So Many Books

Read So Many Books

Join the conversation! In So Many Books, Gabriel Zaid offers his observations on the literary condition: a highly original analysis of the predicament that readers, authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and teachers find themselves in today—when there are simply more books than any of us can contemplate.

Generally interesting, two or three essays that felt outdated. He has a refreshing non-preciousness about books while also clearly loving them.

Diversity and uniqueness of reading

The uniqueness of each reader, reflected in the particular nature of his personal library (his intellectual genome), flourishes in diversity.

I like the idea of an intellectual genome, and the phenome is your thoughts from your reading.

There are more books to contemplate than stars in a night on the high seas. In this immensity, how is a reader to find his personal constellation, those books that will put his life in communication with the universe?

Art and Design Entrepreneurship Marketing

Read Your Music and People

Read Your Music and People by Derek Sivers

A philosophy of getting your work to the world by being creative, considerate, resourceful, and connected.

It’s relatively easy to apply this advice to any creative work.

Really inspirational and thought-provoking! I took my time reading this, a few essays at a time, over two months. I really enjoyed Hell Yeah or No but this book is probably more focused.

Key notes:

Whenever you’re feeling uninspired or unmotivated, use creative restrictions to set you free.

When things aren’t working, be smarter, not louder.

You can’t just normal your way through this.

With one interesting phrase to describe your [creative work], you can make total strangers wonder about you.

Loudly reject 99%. It signals who you are.

Are your fans telling their friends? If not, then don’t waste time promoting it yet.

If it doesn’t excite you, don’t do it. There’s almost nothing that you must do.

Humor Mental Health

Read Broken

Read Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, Jenny brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way.

With people experiencing anxiety and depression now more than ever, Jenny humanizes what we all face in an all-too-real way, reassuring us that we’re not alone and making us laugh while doing it. From the business ideas that she wants to pitch to Shark Tank to the reason why Jenny can never go back to the post office, Broken leaves nothing to the imagination in the most satisfying way. And of course, Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor―the Ricky to Jenny’s Lucille Ball―is present throughout.

20% laugh out loud funny

20% entertaining

20% meh

40% mental health, chronic illness, serious stories – dark but eloquent

Her mental health is much worse than mine which always scares me a little that I might get to that level. But her writing about her experiences with depression and anxiety help me accept my own foibles better.

Quotes + Notes

Emphasis mine.

“It’s probably not true. It’s not true.

That first line is what I feel. The second is what I know.”

“My doctor told me that when you finally get into remission from depression you are 350 percent more likely to stay in remission if you exercise thirty minutes a day six times a week.”

“I know that time given to yourself to make yourself healthier is good for you and for everyone around you. I know that it takes time and effort for some of us to stay sane. I know that I’m worth the work and that I should feel grateful that I can take care of myself without feeling guilty. So the next step is moving from knowing to feeling.

“Treat yourself like you would your favorite pet. Plenty of fresh water, lots of rest, snuggles as needed, allow yourself naps.”

“Avoid negativity. That means the news, people, movies. It will all be there when you’re healthy again.”

“Forgive yourself. For being broken. For being you.”

“Give yourself permission to recover.”

“I make the call. I keep the appointment. I work my program. This is the never-ending work of recovery.”

“[S]ometimes you have to do the hard thing. Sometimes you have to say no. Sometimes you have to make waves. Because otherwise you can get swept away.”

“[A]ll small terrors pass. That fear can make you think irrational thoughts. That you are only ever truly trapped when you give up and allow yourself to be. Don’t give up.”

“It’s a strange thing … to be tangled up in things no one else really cares about. To be so busy with worry that your constant back-and-forth looks like utter inaction. To be so afraid of doing something wrong that you end up doing something worse. To be exhausted by a marathon that looks like complete paralysis on the outside but feels like being on both sides of a violent tug-of-war on the inside.”

“And some people, like me, have a shard forever missing, a chasm that goes straight down to the core. Anxiety. It creates a fear—of people, of strangers and friends, and of life. It makes you fragile and vulnerable and you throw up walls so that no one can reach inside, because you have to protect that core. But—and here’s the tricky part—you also have to protect the break … that empty place that you always feel, because that break is what makes you who you are.”