New Project

Friday 18th August – The words currently defiling once chaste paper in front of me are the first I have had opportunity to escribe since last Tuesday am. 

That an occasion where, as part of a writing workshop, I transcribed antics of a fictional emotional support team. Part of a novel I am currently endeavouring to forge; my tools for this undertaking two dexterous hands, aided by a creatively fertile cerebrum. 

This project producing a formidable literary brew of darkness and humour; yarns revealing episodes in the life of an emotional support team. A cabal who are in many ways as flawed as the troubled folk ringing, texting, or emailing them in search of spiritual fortification.

A far greater challenge to me than regular comfort zone rambling I bequeath in these shorter blog format essays. Vignettes which are by no stretch a doddle to cobble together. However, their degree of difficulty pales into significance when compared to the challenge of composing a novel.

However, as a sign hanging in my apartment reminds me, ‘We only regret the dreams we never chased’. Hence, this project has risen to my existential ‘to do’ list pinnacle. Or it did until Tuesday of this week.

Since then, though, the whimsy of fictional calls akin to those already journaled about a time waster seeking support to locate his missing lucky socks, or starker tales of a caller suffering domestic abuse have been on a back burner.

This lowering literary priority consequential of two other pressing projects. Activities shackling my efforts at quilling; stopping my venture down Creative Avenue. A cul-de-sac off Epiphany Street, running headlong into Inspiration Grove.

This duo of enterprises resulting in GJ Strachan either being too distracted to pen, or deprived of an electronic writing device with which to journal. 

As writing brings more joy into my existence than just about any other existential plotline, a situation which diminishes my brio levels. However, concentrating efforts into this project pair has proved a fruitful use of my time.

My initial task, which played out on Tuesday, the set up and cutting of a metaphorical opening ribbon on an Etsy shop. A project embarked upon with a view to marketing prints of pencil drawn caricatures. This quirky object d’art, numbering around 250, a collection of sketches I pencilled between summer 2020 on now.

These chromatic etchings initially sketched during COVID enforced lockdown. Never having any previous interest in drawing (I dropped school art lessons at the age of 14), a completely different creative route from others I’d previously, or subsequently, trodden.

My doodled subjects a variation of TV/Movie stars, music artists, philosophers, inventors and mix of other celebrities. Individuals whose ‘sittings’ for my artistic tribute were undertaken via their online pictures.

Included aside these arty interpretations, I have included either an inspirational or humorous quote, or song lyric (in the case of some musicians). These enlightening citations ones previously uttered by the individual themselves, or courtesy of a character they had portrayed.

I’d like to think as time evolved, and I gained greater experience at the art, the quality of my coloured pencil scribbles improved markedly. In time viewers of the artistic fare capable of identifying the individual in question without prompting. Witnesses to these doodles eventually able to guess the target’s identity prior to me even writing the ‘victims’ name beneath their inspirational advocacy.

In the early days of my sketching, as COVID wreaked global havoc and confined me to barracks, most of the caricatures were not as easy to identify. 

My (now late) mum, who I lived with during the pathogens vicelike grip on the UK, understandably struggled to identify many of my earlier artistic efforts. Mistaking a slapdash tribute to Marlon Brando as a caricature of Donald her butcher; and deeming my lukewarm effort at capturing Tina Turner to be Mavis from Thorpe Road.

Footnote – Admittedly, my capturing of Ms Turner was not forensic accurate. However, as Mavis was not black, I would venture mater’s interpretation that day was on the harsh side.

Anyhow, for months I have toyed with setting up an Etsy shop, endeavouring to monetise the fruits of my pencilling labour. A reward, perhaps, for scores of man hours spent creating these offbeat etchings. A project, though, I habitually put off for another day.

However, on Tuesday I grabbed the bull by the horns… And, after the bull calmed down enough to allow my return to setting up an Etsy account, I proceeded to populate my shop listings with the sixty most famous/accurate caricatures… Products sold under the retail store banner of GaryCatures.

Subsequently, early Tuesday evening, shortly before being driven to pick my campervan up in Scarborough, yours truly cut the metaphorical opening ribbon on my online Etsy store. 

There is a ton of work to be done still to improve/progress the site. Amongst those further tasks, populating the item listings with further caricatures, setting up categories to assist searching and monitoring how my ‘finger in the air’ pricing strategy plays out.

Lots and lots to do, but on the flip side a degree of caution is required. After all, being a newcomer to the retail game, I am very much flying by the seat of my pants with this project. I am acutely aware the need for greater understanding of the products market, along with how to pitch the prints cost wise. 

Consequently, these sixty or so already added item listings are very much part of a pilot run for the online store. Time will only tell, but I am proud that at least I have given it a go, progressing from the stage of it just being an idea. 

The second project this week which negated my ability to write was a few days hiatus over on the east coast of Yorkshire. A sojourn which included the aforementioned retrieval of my campervan from its base for the last seven weeks, or so.

Packing everything away after all this time over there a time-consuming task, which yesterday tied up four hours of my morning. Labour which saw the disposal of both my sun canopy and windbreaker; both of which had been decimated by weeks of east coast winds… 

And there was me thinking a windbreaker got its name from blocking breezes; not because wind literally broke the bloody things!!


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