Write Like a Scribe

These few days, I’ve been reading a book so that I can submit a book review to a journal.

It’s often the case that academic books can get rather boring. I decided the best way to make things interesting is to attempt calligraphy while I make annotations.

So I took out my trusty dip nib a bottle of ink!

My trusty dip nib and ink!
My trusty dip nib and ink!

And with that, I started making notes along the side of my text.

The fun thing about writing with a dip nib is that it makes me feel like one of those medieval scribes.

Something like this guy, minus the funny hat:

Something like this guy, but minus the funny hat.
The chair doesn’t look comfortable. I like how his triangular floating desk thingy at the top left corner seems to be printing out a scroll. Maybe he should consider printing instead of writing.


Anyway, everything was going well, until this happened:


I moved my hand too quickly, and a drop of ink fell from the nib onto the paper. Ouch.

Wow… It’s a good thing I had the wisdom to annotate on a photocopy rather than on the original book itself.

I imagine this must be a regular problem during the medieval and renaissance times. I imagine scribes going mad because of this. Imagine all that rage in the monastery when some medieval monk stains a page of his precious manuscript, which he spent hours or days writing. I imagine he’d flip his triangular table and uncomfortable chair. Maybe he’ll take out his funny hat and stomp on it.

Imagine Isaac Newton, or some other famous thinker, painfully writing a page full of ideas, when suddenly he jerks his hand, causing a large drop of ink to spill onto his page. Imagine that drop of ink bleeding through the page, affecting all the other pages behind. Gosh… Maybe Newton was so mad he went to kick the apple tree outside his house repeatedly until apples fell on him.

Interestingly, I just found an old video that showed the early problems people faced with writing. Somehow, dripping ink on paper wasn’t the main problem. (It’s 20 minutes, but it’s a very interesting video, showing you the history of ABC, and the evolution of pens)

Such were the difficulties of a dip nib.

Have I learnt my lesson? No… I’m still gonna continue annotating with my dip nib. Like I said, it keeps things interesting (like the event above).