Don’t Save Anything is a newsletter about journeys.
I mean this broadly. A journey might lead over melting ice to the North Pole, or spin you through memories of the hometown you left long ago. It’s not necessarily about travel; it’s about the meaning we make, the stories we tell. The curious alchemy by which we transform the unknown into familiar territory.
For years I’ve been writing about journeys for National Geographic magazine and—with pictures!—on Instagram. This newsletter will be like all that, and different. Here I’ll tell new stories and share older ones that’ve never been published. I’ll post about my latest fieldwork (including my book; more about that below) and I’ll write a lot about the work and lives of others—scientists, photographers, hunters, artists, elders.
Sometimes I’m going to talk about my nearly two decades at Nat Geo, too, and my path from old-school print journalism to film and podcasting. I want to turn the lens around. Examine how I’ve messed up and explore how new storytellers might do things differently. As I build this space, I also hope other voices, other writers, will join us here.
Don’t Save Anything is a title borrowed from the work of one of my favorite writers, James Salter. He once told me that to write is marvelous choice, and he believed that we shouldn’t hold onto our stories too tightly, waiting for a magical moment to share them.
Instead, use what you’ve got, pour it into whatever is before you. It’s taken a long time for me to get comfortable with that advice. What was I waiting for?
I began my career writing for newspapers. When that kind of storytelling felt too tight, I jumped to magazines. Later I moved to Instagram which, in its clarity, brevity and bite, often felt more honest and intimate than anything else I was doing.
But magazines keep shrinking, and Instagram algorithms keep getting weirder. Social used to offer a path to discovery; these days it feels a lot more like corporate surveillance.
So I arrive at newsletters: a new-old frontier where we might connect outside the boxes and where you can, as always, talk to me about anything.
Another big reason is that I’ve just begun writing a book, and I wanted to create a space where I can rough some of it out.
The book is tentatively entitled “Frostlines: Dispatches from the New Arctic,” and it’ll be published by Ecco in 2024. “Frostlines” will explore the unprecedented transformation of the Arctic, in all its gothic horror and wonder.
This is already proving to be a life-altering journey. I want to open up the book process, share what I’m doing and talk with people about it.
Don’t Save Anything will arrive in your inbox at least once a week. I’ll aim for more as I get going. Some stories will be longer, some very short. I’ll keep up the Instagram-y word-picture posts that I still love to do, that I can’t help but do.
Paid subscribers will get more of everything—the free weekly posts, plus additional photos, interviews and deeper insights. You’ll also get more dispatches from my fieldwork. These will often be raw, immediate. And I plan to do live discussions in the future with some of my favorite collaborators/writers/photographers.
Founding members get it all. Of course they do—they help make my work possible. Access to everything, more access to me, signed copies of my book. And—to borrow from Roxanne Gay—gratitude. Thank you for supporting this project.