An ode to …

I have written and re-written this blog entry several times, at least in my head. Its original aim was to write in praise of Good Tickle Brain, a mostly Shakespeare webcomic that keeps me in stitches. And I will write about that in just a moment. But my thinking has gone off in many directions over the past several weeks, so please bear with me—this may be a bumpy ride. (Figuratively speaking; you may actually want to grab a cup of tea as it’s rather long).

So Good Tickle Brain … I can’t remember how I first stumbled across this comic, but I think it was through the Three-Panel Plays that boil Shakespeare down to his essence and adds a liberal dollop of humour. They are stick figures a la xkcd (also worth checking out if you like your stick figures with a side helping of science) drawn by Mya Gosling, who I believe has cornered the market on comics about leeks, libraries, and Elizabethan language. Her recent foray into Stars Wars action figures as the Rude Galacticals is pure genius and deserves to be made into a book. Or a YouTube video. Or somehow broadcast far and wide.

I sometimes feel like I am reading about my far funnier twin from whom I was separated at birth. She works in a library? I used to work at a library! She likes the works of Stephen Sondheim? Me too! Ditto musical theatre, Star Wars, and obviously Shakespeare. I occasionally find my husband chuckling at his computer and he’ll ask, “Have you read Good Tickle Brain today?  Go read Good Tickle Brain.”  He even got me the t-shirts as a present.

But I digress. The reason I wanted to write about Mya in the first place is not just because she has a funny comic (which she does. Seriously, go and check it out now.  This will still be here when you get back), but because she is clearly following her passion. Shakespearean cartooning may not be in a subject that you can major in at university, and it may require more than a sentence or two to explain as a hobby, but I admire this willingness to do something a little different and put herself out there.  This has led to the creation of the aforementioned merchandise (some of which is for sale at Shakespeare’s actual birthplace) and, most recently, speaking at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

I thought this would tie in well with my previous “Follow the Butterfly” blog entry since it touches upon this idea of following your passion and being willing to tread a different path in life. So this was originally intended to be a short and simple blog entry to illustrate a point through the recommendation of a favourite website.

But between my initial brainstorming for this blog entry and now, Mya has quit her job to go full-time into Shakespearean stick figures. I am absolutely overjoyed on behalf of a person I have never met (more comics to read I hope!) and insanely jealous. This is a leap of faith that I myself have wanted to take for a while.

Last year I read Marianne Cantwell’s Be a Free Range Human and strained my neck from nodding along to it so much. I recently went through it a second time to top up on encouragement and ideas, and one of the things that jumped out at me this time around was the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have a passion for what they do.

At first glance, I found this difficult. I work in an office. My colleagues are absolutely lovely people but it’s not exactly a hotbed of passion, at least for the job at hand. I do meet regularly with academics who are passionate about their research, which is nice, but it doesn’t exactly resonate with me: I’ve been there, done that, and have the publications but not the passion to prove it. Academia is not for me.

Yet as Mya’s announcement got me thinking, I realised that, although I don’t follow many blogs, those I read regularly have a common, underpinning theme despite their disparate topics.

For example, I have been following Shreve Stockton of Daily Coyote  and Honey Rock Dawn for years and it has been incredible to see how she built her business of Star Brand Beef, culminating with a wildly successful kickstarter. On Facebook, I keep an eye on artist Anastasia Catris after meeting her at a Comic Con, and it’s been wonderful to read about her successes as well as learn from her struggles. In real life, I have my great friend Jo of Rainmaker Gallery, who I have seen not only take that leap, but soar.

I’ve realised that inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere, and this blog entry is dedicated to the incredible people who have inspired me over the years, whether or not they realise it. Making a living doing what I love—writingcreating, advocating—will take time. But, with their example, I am feeling positive that this will be a goal I’ll meet.


As a thank you for reading all this way, a pretty picture of things looking up (autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum).

Off the Beaten Track Wiltshire

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