This quote by Helen Hayes gives me permission to not be an expert when I first try something new.
Human nature pushes our buttons to want to be good at everything we do. But for many, not being 'good' at something deters them from entering the learning process at all.
I consider myself a learner. I love to learn and I am constantly engaging in opportunities to challenge myself and grow my skills and understanding. Currently, I am enrolled in a class where I can learn and develop my calligraphy. Now, I had dabbled a bit in various forms of handwriting, but this was my first official training.
Before I signed up for this class I knew none of the 'rules' or techniques for calligraphy and I was quite terrible the first few months that I tried to wield the pen. Obviously I have seen a lot of very beautiful examples of calligraphy and obviously my goal was to become one of those people who could create a piece of work that was just as beautiful. I was terrible when I started. But I just wanted to start anyway!
So even before I enrolled in a class to learn the rules and techniques of calligraphy, I started writing. How did I know what to do? Well, I gathered several examples of what I deemed to be beautiful calligraphy. Looking at their work, I took note of all that these artists were doing. I noticed the size of their lettering, the width of their lines, the shape of their 'm' and 'b' and 's'. I noticed how they transitioned from one letter to the next and how they arranged the words in a quote on the page. I noticed when they used calligraphy nibs with ink, calligraphy nibs with paint, brush pens, wide or chiselled or thin markers, and the type of papers they were using. And then I copied them!
I literally attempted to replicate pieces of work from other artists. (Just as a disclaimer, I did not try to pass off any of this work as my own, I only used it for practice purposes so don't call the authorities on me here!) I dipped when they dipped. I swirled when they swirled. I used fat lines when they used fat lines and thin lines when they used thin lines. I tried my hardest to make my piece of calligraphy exactly like their piece of calligraphy. I was 'faking it'.
By faking my calligraphy I was learning to do calligraphy. My hand was learning how to round out the letters. My brain was beginning to recognize when to use fat lines and when to use thin lines. My heart was falling in love with the many examples of beautiful work that I was creating. And I was beginning to see the possibility of growing my skills as a calligrapher. But I could not do any of the creation from scratch. I just became good at copying. And I think that is okay.
By faking my calligraphy I was learning to do calligraphy. By accepting that I did not know it all (or anything for that matter), and that I would not be an Expert anytime soon, I had entered the learning process. I let myself explore and question and fail many times. But it didn't matter because I was just a Beginner and no one expected me to be the Expert - not even me!
It was at this point that I decided it was time to get some official training in the art of calligraphy. I had acquired a background, a schema, a framework for learning calligraphy but I didn't have the 'rules' or techniques. So now, as I go through the lessons that the instructor has given us, everything is making sense to me. I feel like I have seen this before (because I have), but now I know why it is done like that and I know how that letter was formed so that it looks like that.
So it was okay to 'fake' my calligraphy. It was a start. It was my start. I was a Beginner. And it was okay to not be good as a Beginner.
Now, with some rules and techniques from the class and a lot of practice, I can begin the journey to becoming an Expert in calligraphy.