Mr. Joplin’s black-board writings were works of art. He formed beautiful rows of elegant cursive script, letters perfectly spaced, the runnels between horizontal rows spaced just so, to permit ascenders and descenders from becoming cramped. But it was the peculiar way in which he dotted his “i” that lent special distinction to his written hand. He placed accurate round circles above the lower case Is. In a blackboard full of notes we, in class, were to copy into our notebooks, what was written had the appearance and elegance of sacred text. I laboured over transcribing these notes and emulated the slowness and care with which Mr. Joplin scribed on the black-board. I strove to make the meaning of wisdom he imparted have beautiful form. My notebooks were labours of love. I felt reverent toward the information. And, I learned to slow down my writing and when a word containing an “i” was complete, would patiently hover over the “i” and with great deliberation form the circle above it. The act of doing this caused me to savour the writerly gesture, the making of a mark, to not take it for granted. The circle marks slowed me down to an almost trance-like state.
When I learned calligraphy, making circles and rounded elements became easy for me, due partly to this slowing down of making a mark of a circle from Mr. Joplin. It seems funny to think back on this now and realize that what someone does in demonstrating a way of doing something has consequences for developing skills related but not being taught at a particular time. Or, was Mr. Joplin unaware of the unintended consequences for students of his circling his Is instead of dotting them casually, swiftly without thought?
This Writing Practice topic was suggested by the folks at www.redravine.wordpress.com. They provide constant stimulus for me for developing my writing. Thank you Quoinmonkey and Ybonesy!