Friday, January 20, 2012

A project revealed including photos

I've learnt something - Paul Forster is a man of many words.  67,901 to be exact.

Let me explain -

Late last year I started working with Paul.  First to innocently suggest that perhaps he might like to start a blog.  Paul has this really cool children's picture book called "You're Not Eating Me" which he published and is selling.  Along with this book is a CD with songs including the title song "You're Not Eating Me".  This book / CD has been one of my kids' favourite things and Caitlyn often asks me to play the song for her (click here for a snippet). So if you are looking for a cool, affordable present for a child, this is a great option!

Anyway I thought the blog would be a great place for Paul to talk about his book and his music and besides a blog is a great place to talk about whatever.

And so I helped him get set up in the blogosphere (after all an addiction is useless if you can't share it with others...).  Not long after we started doing some YouTube video clips and it was at this point that I became aware that Paul has actually written a lot more songs than I thought and that while I really liked the songs I have heard up to that point, the ones he started sharing with me were amazing - many of which I now regard as my favourite songs.  Some of his songs were inspired by his lovely wife Jo (click here), his beautiful girls Kate and Alice (click here), his dad (who is just as competitive as Paul) (click here), his mum (click here) and his passion for music (click here). 

When the end of the year started creeping up on us I started thinking what I could give to Paul as a thank you present.  For one he was an amazing teacher for Bianca.  One of the very best.  (You can read about it here).  But he also became a good friend.  A friend willing to share his world of music, willing to go along with the crazy ideas I came up with (like Funrazor and the hospital visit) and who is very encouraging as I'm trying to get fit (a long road ahead of me still).  And so I wanted to give him something that would hopefully be meaningful and useful.

And it was at this point that I thought perhaps a notebook would be a suitable something.  You know - so he could continue writing music and have a special place to write any new songs.  Of course I could have just gone to the shop and bought something and there really are some stunning notebooks out there and that would have been good enough, but that's not really how I work.

I decided that instead I actually wanted to make the notebook.  Now I've only ever once made a book.  It was for our Dale Carnegie instructor and I collected quotes and contributions of what the sessions meant to us all from the group of people who did the 12 week course with me.  It was pretty much an A4 one and I called it "The Road Well Travelled". 

But this particular notebook I didn't want to wire bind.  I wanted it to look more like a real book.  A hard cover book.  Except I've never made a hard cover book and had no idea where to start.

I borrowed some books from the library and most of it seemed either too weird or too feminine looking (not sure if Paul would appreciate a book with lots of ribbon and lace...) and there was one book that discussed the more traditional methods of bookbinding.  It wasn't a very easy read and most of the information flew over my head. 

And so I consulted trusty friend YouTube and some or the other bookbinding forum (yes there is a forum decicated to the art of book making).  And through this I stumbled upon some really great Youtube clips.

My first attempt looked great and I was so proud of myself.  Except I got the measurements all wrong and the cover wasn't quite big enough and I didn't leave a big enough space between the spine and the cover so it wouldn't open properly.  And of course impatient me opened the book too soon after I glued the cover to the pages and...well it wasn't so great.  It was a bit of a flop.  Oh well.  Next attempt.  The next attempt was slightly better.  Except I still struggled with getting my measurements right (give me creative any day, anything that could remotely be linked to maths - not so much...).  And this time the spine part of my pages after I sewed them together was much thicker than the other end of the book.  I think it was on my 4th try when I finally came across a really helpful YouTube video and figured it all out and this one I really liked.  Still not perfect, but I'm really happy with it. 

I then decided I needed something to decorate the inside covers with and then thought that it would be perfect to have some handwritten songs and make a bit of a collage with that.  Which is at this point that I started involving Paul.  He had no idea why I asked for him to do this and I could see he was a bit confused as to why exactly I would need it.

This particular notebook I called "Straight From The Heart" because when Paul writes music and talks about his music you can see that it is straight from his heart.  It is an absolute passion for him.

So that was that.  I was all sorted with something I hoped would be suitable and meaningful.

Except... that's not me.  My ideas have a habit of growing.  I start with a simple concept, a quick and easy project and then as I start thinking about it, planning it, visualising it, it starts growing.  I simply can't help myself.

So as I sat there making this notebook and watching YouTube video clips I thought, what if I took Paul's songs and put it in a hard cover book.  He told me he had about 150 songs that he's done at that stage.  So I started nagging him for copies of his songs.  He gave me a batch and I started typing them up.  I think there were about 80 songs maybe.  I then went back to Paul and asked if I could get the rest of his 150 songs.  And so Paul kindly let me use his folders.  He had 3 folders with loads of songs in them and many of these the original handwritten notes.  It took me quite a while to work my way through these.  At that point Paul started sending me some recordings of some of the songs he had at home.  And I realised that I didn't have all the lyrics for all of them.  And so I went back to Paul and asked for these lyrics.  I think he realised at this point I wasn't going to go away and the quicker he helped me the better :-).  And of course then I needed some song stories, because a number of his songs have a very specific reason how they came about.  Like Paul's very first song every 'We Belong Together'.

As Paul was about to go on holiday in December he told me that there were a few more on his tapes that he didn't think I had words for and if I'm happy to wait until his return he can help me then.  I don't think he realised that there would be 40 more songs that I did not have lyrics for.

And so in the end we realised Paul didn't do 150 songs.  No, he did about 293 songs!  That's quite a bit more than he initially told me :-).

Finally a week ago I had all the information I needed and wanted.  I had all the lyrics, about 40 song stories, all the dates of when stories were written, all Paul's musical productions.  Paul kindly spent 10 hours proofreading through the lyrics (without quite knowing what I was up to).  And I was all set and figured it was going to take me a day or so to put it in the right format, print it and then put it all together so should be ready in time for his birthday.  Except it wasn't.  It took me about a week to copy across all the lyrics, put them on the right pages so when I print it it would be in the correct order, add the stories, do the contents, add some photos, add the page numbers.  And of course the computer application I was using kept stuffing up and I had to keep fixing things (much to my frustration). 

And so finally last night I finished it up.  It is all done.  It is not perfect, but I'm happy with it and hopefully it won't fall apart.  I called this particular book "The Journey".  It is one of Paul's song titles, it was also his journey from his very first song in 1999 to the very last one of 2011 and it felt like I was going on a journey with him as I typed it all up.

This afternoon I finally handed it over to Paul.  Even though it was a lot of hard work, I really enjoyed doing it.  And this way Paul can proudly keep 12 years' worth of work on his bookshelf and share it with others, read through it at times and feel proud of the amazing work he's done.  I am very excited to see the songs Paul will be writing now in 2012.  

All packed and ready.  I was told that Paul likes blue and black.

 And so now I am happy to finally show you these photos:

Sewing together the folded sheets of paper.

Making progress slowly but surely.

Time to glue it together.  The green card is just so that the pages don't damage.

 All glued and ready to add the cover.

Time to make the cover.  

Old Open Polytechnic books can still be useful.  Holding down the cover after I glued it to the pages. 

Straight from the Heart (empty notebook)


I decorated the inside covers (back and front) with copies of Paul's handwritten songs.

Empty pages all ready for the very first song.  I added a bookmark to the book.

The Journey (a collection of songs and musical productions from 1999 to 2011)

About 350 pages
293 Songs
About 40 song stories
4 Musical productions
67,901 words

I decorated the inside front and back covers with a number of photos.  Photos that represent some of the inspirations - running, family, travel, Elliott Smith, Joy Division and Bob Dylan.


A photo of Paul performing at the Kapiti Funrazor event and the start of the contents.


The beginning - a photo of Paul and his sister as kids and a paragraph on their musical upbringing.  The Beginning section has 2 songs - 'We Belong Together', the first song Paul ever wrote and 'Run With The Wind' the second song Paul ever wrote.



The start of the rest of the songs.  As well as thoughts on Bob Dylan and how his music influenced Paul's own songwriting.


The Musical Productions are at the end of the book.  2 of these productions have been professionally recorded and the other 2 have not yet been recorded.

This was an amazing project to do.  A long one, but well worth it.  Thank you, Paul for putting up with my constant nagging and constant requests and for helping me even though you didn't quite know what it was for.  I'm looking forward to seeing what new songs you come up with!


Anonymous said...

Wow! That is so impressive!!!!

Hayley said...

Oh wow....that' is incredible! What an awesome gift!

Sharon said...

Oh wow, Lea. That is an amazing book you've made. I bet Paul loved it!

Paul said...

Thanks Lea for the wonderful gift! Had no real idea how involved the book making process was! You have done a great job! It has been a long journey for the both of us but I am thrilled with the outcome. It will be treasured always!

LatteJunkie said...

AMAZING!!! Paul is very, very lucky.shem :)

amanda said...

Lea, dis PRAGTIG! Voorwaar n baie besonderse geskenk en ek weet Paul waardeer al die harde werk en sal dit beslis met trots koester.

ma xxx

Ellie said...

Wow, I'm very impressed with your bookkeeping skills.
What a wonderful gift for you to give to Paul. I'm sure he will treasure it for ever.
I've been following Paul for a wee while now and I've now become your newest follower.

RosemaryO said...

Wow what an ambitious project. Your creativity is awesome!! What a thoughtful treasure for Paul to have.
Wonderful job, Lea.

Laura @ Our Wee Farm said...

can only say WOW! that is totally amazing. well done. I can only begin to imagine how much love and hard work went into it. xx

affectionforfitness said...

Hi Lea! Thanks for the blog comment! Wow! Making a book for Paul is so special on many levels. It shows how much you value his songs. It shows your talent. It shows your decision to spend the time to do something special for someone else. What a wonderful post for me to first read on your blog! I definitely will follow!

:-) Marion

Anonymous said...

Great effort!

Blogger from Singapore

Julia said...

Oh my goodness! What an amazing gift. You did good, Lea! Very well done.

Maria said...

Lea it is wonderful! You did an amazing job :-)