Velveteen … village?

In the story The Velveteen Rabbit, the title character — a child’s beloved toy — becomes real.

At some level, I feel as if the mythical Route 66 village of Coldwater, N.M., has become a little more real.

I spent a few minutes last night designing retro stationery for the motel, complete with a fictional address and ZIP code (can you believe 88466 was not already taken by a real town?) and then, inspired by this little detail, spent the next couple of hours creating a rack card for the nonexistent Coldwater Chamber of Commerce, complete with a map showing every street and point of interest in town.

Looking at that map was sort of a Velveteen Rabbit moment for me: While Coldwater does not, in point of fact, exist, it’s as if the existence of a map somehow gives the town a kind of tenuous reality. If you’ve ever looked at a map of Middle Earth or Yoknapatawpha County, you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about.

If you’ll be at the Route 66 festival this summer in Joplin, you’ll have the opportunity to take a closer look at the map, as I plan to print up some rack cards to hand out during the festivities.

The more I play with this project, the more I love it. I’m not sure why. The idea of creating my own alternate reality just delights me.