Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Penny For Your Thoughts Book 4/100

I know most people are really sick of hearing me talk about this, but I've been very excited to be a part of it since I discovered it a few weeks back. Bear with me just a little longer!
As some folks know, I got to create book #4 out of the 100 "Penny for Your Thoughts" books that are being created and disseminated as part of the second phase of the Penny Experiment. It was a great deal of fun constructing it, and you can bet I documented the heck out of it while I did.
First and foremost, I chose a leather-wrapped travel journal, as I thought it would keep the contents the most secure and would also be sturdiest in the long run. I made sure to grab one with acid-free paper so that it wouldn't start yellowing or discoloring anything put on the pages.
Next I worked on putting the title of the project on the cover... I wanted to make sure there was just ~no way~ you could miss what this was supposed to be. So I put it on there in very bold gold and black art marker. Added plus of using leather? It absorbed the pigment, so it won't brush off with lots of friction.
In viewing it now, I would probably have turned "Thoughts" a different direction, turned away from "for" so it doesn't run together but oh well... what's done is done!
You'll note that when the top is closed, it actually covers up some of the letters partially. This is my attempt at being tricky and trying to get them to open and look in to the book to see what it's all about.
Now that flap opened itself up to be decorated, and I knew that I had to meet some requirements yet on the front, so that was going on the outside of the flap. But what about the inside? There was all of that lovely prime real-estate waiting to be used in some fashion.
After thinking a moment, I knew that Buddha's eyes needed to be there. That way it would be the first thing that people would see when they opened it, and might pique their curiosity further (or potentially really weird them out); also, as this entire project is an act of compassion, I wanted Buddha to watch over the book's journeys. He can look down on it when it's folded closed, and he can see every page when it's open. They just HAD to go there. So I added it, this time with plain old black sharpie.
Next I decided to add a phrase that had popped in to my head when I'd first been pondering putting the book together...a little encouragement for anybody who might stumble across it and not be sure if they should add their $0.02 as well. Behold:
Here's to hoping it actually works.
I then put in the entry about my rescue-hound already detailed below in another journal post, with his adorable little face.
Then the required text explaining the project and where to send it once completed (note Zen snuck in to thank everyone for their participation, such a bugger...)

Main thoughts I was turning over the entire time this was under construction was that three things needed to be gleaned from viewing this immediately:
1.)It needed to look interesting, or weird, or whatever it took to get people to pick it up and look at it.
2.)It needed to do this while still looking fun and inviting.
3.)It needed to be encouraging and open to, well, encourage folks to add to it!
With these in mind I decided that nobody in the world hated robots or dinosaurs, so those had to go in there as well.
I grabbed some cute robot stickers while I was out getting other items for the penny postcard project, and they were promptly put to good use. I stuck one in a corner or side of each of the first 20 or so pages to make people smile. They were all fairly cheerful and charming fellows. There were some metallic cogs and what I can only guess were meant to be buttons on the page, so those were spread around the pages with them as well.
Then came the dinosaur. There had to be a dinosaur, because nothing says "what the hell is going on here?" like having a dinosaur in the middle of things. Also, for those people who learned about Digging Up Dinosaurs from Aliki before Jurassic Park was around, there is just a warm fuzzy spot in your heart for them. I don't know an adult alive who wouldn't use a kid as an excuse to go look at fossils. So I used it to my advantage with the final inside section.I'm rather proud of this little collage, as it took some collage paper, a rather big T-rex skeleton sticker (yes, I'm the kind of person that has T-rex skeleton stickers on hand.) and art markers. It's supposed to be a wordplay on Jurassic Park, but if people don't get it, I'm not going to sweat it too much.
I decided to tie it in a bit more by adding something else a moment later, once again in the vein of creating/encouraging: "Let's see some JURASSIC ARTS."
The whole thing was finished up by putting the book's number and the name of the project on the flap, and I called the whole thing done. I resisted the urge later to continue to fiddle with it and add more and more as I had it in my possession awaiting the handoff. Deciding that I'd done enough, it was now up to the rest of the world to leave their mark on it.
If, after all of that, someone doesn't fall in love with the quirkiness of it, or feel the beseeching gaze of my beloved pup calling them to write in it, then there is nothing else to be done about it.
I thought for a while about where I wanted to take the book. The only instructions are to send it out in to the world for someone else to write in. Stranger or known, it doesn't matter. It just needs to leave my hands and go in to another.
There are very few coffee houses around here that aren't a national chain attached to another national chain bookstore, and I couldn't be sure it would be well received there. I live in a land of cows and crops and people who shoot at the streetlights along the road because they're bored. It's just not a hotbed of creativity and concern for one's fellow man, and I didn't want to see the book fail before it had even started. What was good was that I DID know of a place that was, and it was only a quick 3 hour drive north!
Trust me, when you've driven the length of Pacific Coastal Highway 101 in 24 hours like yours truly has... 3 hours is nuthin'.
Even better, at the end of that 3 hour trip would be my mom, a lovely and insightful woman who is prone to feeding me when I show up. And while that does begin to sound like I did this purely out of personal gain, there is another very good reason.
My mother is a social worker. She has seen the abused, the sick, the elderly and the dying in her life. She has worked in the projects where many people are lacking, and she has helped people cross over in to the Great Beyond. I couldn't think of anybody else in the world who could assure me of how blessed they were, and what a small act of kindness can do for another human being. She thinks long and hard -sometimes a little too long- before she does anything and I knew she would do something awesome with the book. I also knew she would pass it along to someone else who had the possibility of doing the same.
These, along with the fact that she is in a very busy suburb of NYC, meant that the book has the best chance of getting some good mileage on it. So I happily trekked up there and handed it off. It was like turning over my child, honestly, but I know it's in good hands. I can't wait to see where it goes.

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