When I set out to make this manuscript, I laid out some ground rules for myself.
Rule Number One is to accept that this will not be perfect and forgive it its flaws. Try to love it even if your lines are uneven, and remember that even Adam Pynkhurst, “thorowe… necligence and rape,” messed up sometimes.
And remember this picture every time you pick up your mould and deckle or pen:
This is my favorite manuscript picture ever. This is folio 132v from Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson B 214. That smudge of red ink and that little fingerprint were made by John Wilde in the 15th century. The day I found this, I was working on my palaeography essay during my year at Oxford University. The effect it had on me was instantaneous and electrifying — here is the fingerprint, so much like my own, of a man who lived over five hundred years ago. A man who lived and breathed, studied and wrote in a way so much like myself. A man, perhaps, with hopes and dreams and loves like mine.
A man who probably had some very choice words to say when he smudged the ink in his pretty book. I know I would, and probably will.