I’ve had some time on my hands recently and when that happens I usually get some bright idea that I’ll pick up a new hobby. This month, that hobby is calligraphy. It helps that I’ve an event coming up that may require some calligraphy, but you know . . .calligraphy.
I took a summer camp class on calligraphy when I was probably a pre-teen. I found the class frustrating because my handwriting, even after weeks, looked nowhere near the instructor’s beautiful penmanship. I chalked it up to the fact that my motor skills probably hadn’t fully checked in yet.
Beautiful calligraphy, or just beautiful penmanship, makes a document look elegant. Beautiful penmanship shows style, it conveys a sense of competence. It requires skill, focus, and delicacy. In the age of computers, it also illustrates time and consideration above and beyond the amount we normally give. I still write handwritten thank you notes and cards for special occasions. My mother taught me that a handwritten note signifies extra care–but in an increasingly digital world, this mentality seems to be diminishing. Steve Carrell noted that ‘sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It’s disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there’s something visceral about opening a letter – I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.’ While it’s true that computers allow us to build entire social media profiles that display ‘who we are’ as people, our handwriting is a direct sensory link between us and the words and ideas we put on the page. Beyond our handwriting, only our voices can do this.
But good penmanship, truly good penmanship or calligraphy, also requires a specific set of tools; the right pens, the right inks, and the right type of person. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the right type of person.
My letters, as seen above, look neither elegant nor skilled. While there was a considerable amount of due diligence happening while I attempted to form these letters . . . it doesn’t exactly look like that. But my mother has always said that I never have the patience to practice developing skills. Apparently I (and my sister, to be fair, so I think it’s genetic) expect to amazing at craft-related skills right out the gate. But life doesn’t happen this way (unfortunately), so I need to practice. I think I have the wrong pen nibs.