[Scriptoris] The Evil Side of Scribal Escalation...

Diane Rudin serena1570 at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 11 14:45:33 PDT 2003

...or, You Don't Have To Be A Laurel To Do An Original Document
by Serena Lascelles

Nicolaea wrote, in response to one of my innumerable rants of the past two
> The standard of what is expected for an original seems to have increased to
> a point where it is difficult to  commit to a commision or request when you
> know that another scribe out there would do a better (more elaborate) job of
> it, if the person waited for them to be free.  As the artist, you don't want
> the recipient to be disappointed that thier scroll isn't as "cool" as one
> they saw presented to Count Whosits in court.  And as the recipient, would
> you want to be the first one to get the "simpler" original?   We have
> scribed ourselves into a corner, in a way.

Gather 'round, children, and I will tell you tales of Long Ago.

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Ansteorra, a shy young girl calling herself
Serena Lasair (no, I am not making this up!) was asked by her shire's event
steward to create some prize commemoratives for an upcoming event.  As she had
dabbled in the art of scribing years before, she accepted.  While working on
them at the event, she spilled a bottle of ink all over her clothes.  Her blue
silk sash, symbol of her membership in the Ansteorran College of Bards, was
ruined.  That ink soaked through seven layers of fabric to stain her skin.  Not
a drop of ink landed on the document that she was working on.

She changed clothes, and kept on working.

A year later, after doing several pieces for local events, Serena ferch
Ceridwen of Mercia was called upon by her King and Queen to assist in filling
out award documents for court that evening.  It was 105 degrees in the shade,
and there was no wind.  Better yet, they were short by three AoAs, so each of
the three volunteers, of which Serena was one, made an original document on the
spot, using spare sheets of royal stationery.  As the relative cool of evening
approached, their Majesties arrived to sign the award documents.  His Majesty,
who knew nothing of how to handle a dip pen, the only pen available, splattered
ink across over a dozen documents.  Serena and Desiree turned those ink blots
into roses, children, acanthus leaves, Ansteorran stars, and whatever else they
could think of.

Four months later she became, by the hands of that same Crown, Lady Serena, and
also received a Sable Thistle for, according to her Majesty, "the wonderful
things she can do with the ink blots his Majesty leaves all over the scrolls!"

By this time, she was interested in doing original works for the kingdom.  She
created, as her first attempts at this, two Court Baronial charters, and a
Pelican charter, over the next two years, as well as designing three AoA-level
charters and one grant-level charter for pre-printing use.

To cut this story short (and to reduce the Scribal Horror Story factor), I did
a half-dozen originals, including one achievement document, over the course of
about four years.  When my hands began hurting, I couldn't stop myself.  After
the surgery, I had to stop, with over a dozen people on my commissions list. 
The ideas are still there, boiling around in my mind.  I'm going to have to go
through a lot of frustrating re-training, to make myself not hold the pen/brush
with a death grip, but I'm now resolved to do it.  Because the discussions of
the last two days have driven home to me that scribal work was my artistic "one
true love".  I had more passion and energy to do that work than any work other
than research.  I *must* get that back.

But that's not the point I'm making here.

No one in Ansteorra has an original scroll created by Mistress Serena

There are people who have things by Serena, by Lady Serena, by HL Serena. 
There are people who have things that Serena did that would, by today's
standards, go directly into the trash can.

When I began doing originals for upper-level awards, I was up against the
creations of Master Cynric, Mistress Zinaida, Mistress Rose.  Their work made
me look like the beginner I was.  And you know what?  *Being a beginner is
okay.*  We've all been there.  *You can't become an expert without first being
a beginner.*  *Someone* will end up with your beginner's work.  And you know
what else?  *They'll love it.*  They'll be proud of it long after you've become
so much better that you're embarassed to have that early work shown off.

I know.  I'm *married* to the owner of one of my early efforts, and the best I
can muster to say about it is, "It was the best I could do at the time." 
Meanwhile, my husband has to show it to everyone who is foolish enough to step
foot in this house.  He's inordinately proud of it, and it's totally
embarassing.  It's nowhere near as good as the letters patent that Margaret and
Lasair made for my when I was elevated to the Laurel.

And then I remind myself that there is no greater moment for the teacher than
that point at which the student surpasses the teacher.  I am blessed to have an
example of that hanging on my wall.

Yes, the quality level at the top keeps getting better and better.  I
*understand* about being intimidated.  Heck, a big part of what's holding me
back from trying calligraphy again is the knowlege that, in the beginning, I'll
be *terrible*.  But I'm going to do it.  And people will be happy to have the

Because in the end, they really do care more about the love that is shown by
the act of creation than whether or not it was perfect.

"On the whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious
of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better
and a happier man than I otherwise should have been had I not attempted it."
--Benjamin Franklin

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