A journal in cartoons and captions


Everyone looked after me all day. My favourite part was going around the table and hearing what everyone considered to be the thing they were most proud of in 2020. (Mine was painting my door yellow, and transforming my office into my studio.)


I’m glued to Murdoch Mysteries, a Canadian show on Netflix that thankfully has about a thousand episodes (give or take). When I learned there were many seasons yet to watch, I ran out of my studio hollering: “Winter is saved!”


Kevin’s new year’s eve bonfire kept burning out last night. “I smell like smoke,” I told Heather on our starting-the-new-year-off-right walk. We came upon a statue that was like a horror movie, a man’s face replaced with an owl and maybe a possum (?); squirrel and duck for hands. We laughed so much.


We drove to Claire’s farm to pick up eggs and meat, and Claire showed us the pigs in the barn. Back home, we started a new 30-day yoga cycle with Adriene, called “Breath.”


Strange what my pen and hand tell me—not always what I want to hear. Mostly, I walked with my family this morning, on a spontaneous walk through fresh snow. But this was how I felt, trying to reach across the barriers of self/other.


Welcome to my studio. I enter this small warm room, close the yellow door, and feel—welcomed in. Happy to be here, at this desk, to look out these windows, to feel excited, wondering what I’ll find today?


I’m trying to read a book before falling asleep, rather than scrolling the news on my phone. My theory is that my dreams will be better, more interesting. But last night, the children in this book found a dead dog and my sleep was restless; tired today. (Soundtrack on repeat: “Exile” T. Swift and B. Iver)


It’s a lot to ask, that stories drop into my hands from their perfect mutability in my mind. I ask for grace and energy, I ask for a stronger work ethic, I ask for magic; but it’s desire I need, to answer longing with scratches on the page.


Yesterday, as Trump’s followers over-ran Congress, I was doing that terrible thing where I was watching a livestream on my laptop, scrolling my phone, and texting people, as if by consuming too much information, I’d find an answer to the question—what is going to happen?


I promised myself I’d sit down and draw even if I felt completely empty. That would capture the day too—an empty page, some pen scratches and scribbles.


My drawings this week all kind of look the same, I told Kevin on our after-dinner walk with Rose. Not much is changing. We are in liminal space—waiting. Not transition, but waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.


Today I made a list of things I want to do every day: go for a walk, the longer the better;  burn and create energy with intense cardio; yoga; cartoon; play piano; afternoon tea break. I’d also like to meditate and read; and of course write. And cook. (But not clean.)


Good news: started my day in my studio and wrote part of a story almost immediately! Not-bad news: I can’t draw cars. This one looks like a bus, sort of. Above: me and Nina going for a walk, early Monday morning tradition.


Panic attack reading news of a stay-at-home order starting Thursday in Ontario. Felt like I was drowning. But what changes, I asked? Put on headphones and draw—follow pen into memory, shape, imagination. You’ve got resources. Sources.


Sidewalks slick with ice, we walked, skated, slipped, slid on a short dog walk after supper. Waiting for us to pass was a fox in the little park across the street. It sat perfectly still, alert, focused on our presence, till we were gone.


And now we’re all caught up. What do you think of my new journaling method? I’m on month two, and I’ve noticed a growing interest in attempting to draw background and setting, as well as figures. I’ve noticed, too, that this exercise slows me down and changes the flow of my attention, no matter what I’m feeling.

xo, Carrie

You must ask for what you really want
Views from inside another lockdown


  1. Beth Kaplan

    Carrie, a graphic diary – it’s wonderful. Your drawing is much improved from when you started a few years ago. We’re there with you; you draw us in, literally and figuratively. Lovely work.

    • Carrie Snyder

      Hi Beth! I’m mulling over the realization that practice does cause improvement, whether we mean for it to or not. Dedicated daily practice can’t help but pull more angles out of us, or make us curious in ways we weren’t before, or see possibilities we couldn’t before. I didn’t begin to draw with any notion of improving. I was just curious to see what would happen and what my hand and pen would tell me (a la Lynda Barry). Maybe that’s the best way to learn, without expectation. Beginner’s mind is a real gift. Who knows what this new daily diary practice will show me/tell me? I love the adventure of not knowing.


    I also felt panicked by the stay-at-home order, oddly, when not one thing in my life changes because of it.

    On Murdoch Mysteries, I need to tell you (if you don’t yet know) that the quality — even within a season — is quite variable. I also quite enjoy the series. We fell into it a long time ago with a very sick child and have watched every episode to date including this week’s.

    And I wanted to tell you that your drawings have improved but I didn’t want to tell you because it strikes me as the kind of practice that does best with unselfconsciousness and the willingness to not measure its quality so much as to engage in the experience. But I could be wrong.

    • Carrie Snyder

      Hi Susan, I find Murdoch Mysteries is good to watch while doing something else. It’s been accompanying me on the spin bike most mornings (my cardio blast). I did not realize a new season is airing even now! Yay! But I have to catch up first. Could be awhile!

      You are not wrong on what you say re my drawing practice. I completely agree. It’s very freeing to practice something at which one does not have any expectations at all, other than the curious pleasure of the experience. Daily practice of yoga feels similar: with both, I just drop in and do it. I investigate, I consider, I notice, I let myself make “mistakes” and even embrace the quirky things (in one cartoon last month, I gave myself three legs without noticing till I was done! And that extra leg gives me jolt of joy every time I look at the drawing!). I think it’s easier to draw unselfconsciously when I’m doing it for the purpose of discovery–what’s underneath, I’m asking? What is my hand seeing that I’m not able to? I’ve been writing the same way, actually. Beginner’s mind. Curiosity and delight at discovery. Freedom to explore.

      I hope I’ll be able to continue practicing in this way.. If I were to start aiming for some end, it would be much less fun.

  3. Nath

    I know that statue! I still haven’t figured out whether I find it delightfully quirky or just horrific. Or both! Am also doing “Breath” with Zoë (every time we end up in plank, Z calls out “Betrayal!”). I like the stillness it brings to my day, even though my days can’t be said to be very hectic!! I was just telling somebody today that I have to stop being in a state of waiting all the time. Both because I’ll go loopy, and because there’s no point at which we’re going to be able to say, “ok, NOW we’re back. Now where did I leave off?” Not sure what that’s going to change, exactly, but it feels like a step forward!

    And I like your cartoon diary!

    • Carrie Snyder

      Hi Nath! LOL Zoe! “Betrayal!” It’s awesome to do a daily practice with someone else. Kevin is my constant, and Annabella joins often (not on weekends).
      Heather and I visited the statute again today. I think it’s both horrifying and quirkily effective. After all, it’s public art, and I’m interested in engaging with it, visiting it, thinking about it — so that’s a success. For some reason, there’s been an empty shopping cart parked beside the figure on both occasions, which makes the installation somehow even more peculiar and disorienting. And the realistic pants and shoes … and the little animal claws … honestly!!! So much to wonder over / be troubled by.
      I find that as long as I can hang steady with myself in a kind of minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day fashion, and not let myself squirrel off into rushing ahead or wishing for something to change, I can really enjoy the pace of the day. Some days it’s definitely a bigger challenge than others. Escaping into my imaginary worlds helps too.

  4. Trilby

    Love this, Carrie! Happy new year.

    • Carrie Snyder

      Thank you, Trilby! I’m keeping it up for now.


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