Learning Curves

So far I love TypeMedia to bits. It’s varied and rich and it’s intense alright – I spend most days at school from around 9 AM to around 9 PM –, although so far most of the intensity is self-inflicted. The learning curve is already quite noticeable though.

For one thing, I’ve been enjoying diving into Python for real. We’re working with DrawBot, an intuitive environment, discovering ways of building letters parametrically. This is, as James wrote, insanely fun. It’s sometimes also insanely hard. I’m currently trying to wrap my head around how curves work. I looked up how to mathematically deal with béziers and now I’m sorry I did (it’s a little daunting). I’ll start by reviewing the basics I review every time I have to script visual stuff … trigonometry breaks my brain every damn time. I don’t know why my brain has a selective incapacity for angles, I just can’t remember which function is which. Every time I have to apply a sine or a cosine or an arcsomething, things go … hell, I’d be happy if they went pear-shaped, right now this “o” looks like a melted Pacman.

When this grows up it will be a beautiful “o”.

When this grows up it will be a beautiful “o”.

But it’s challenging in a fun way, and I know I can solve this if I set my mind to it. Writing is harder for me (as in calligraphy, which they don’t call what we do here) – it requires humility and dexterity, not two of my greatest strengths, and practice, which I lack. I started typing an (unpublished, whiny) post two weeks ago, after our first broad-nib writing lesson in which I had entirely failed at making straight lines, never mind balanced curves.

I was hoping to be a bit more graceful about this but the truth so far has been, I suck at writing and calligraphy and it makes me angry at myself. And of course I’m in the lion’s den here at TypeMedia – and on purpose too –, so I was bound to hit this obstacle very soon. But admitting that I handle the tools clumsily, producing crooked results, is hard for someone who’s between Swiss and OCD in terms of wanting things regular and aligned, and expects a lot from herself. 


Since then I’ve learned that (a) it’s a little silly to get upset about being bad at something I haven’t practised before, and (b) the thing is to accept the “I don’t know shit” barrier, and then start working with the tools (from zero, if needs be) instead of against them (kind of like what Josh wrote this week as well). It’s hard to admit to being bad at things, not knowing how to do them; to check my ego at the door. But it’s necessary. Once I realized that I don’t have anything to prove, it was okay. Because the point is the path, the learning curve, and on that I have embarked. And I’m learning a lot and you know what? Learning, discovering new things, feels way better than the fearful “safety” of thinking I already know.


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