I've been mostly focused on one general research topic for the past few years: medieval music. I've been branching out a bit into medieval poetry as well. Ah, let's call it medieval performance. And I've gotten pretty deep in, to the point where I can just glance around and see all the unanswered questions I have, all the different routes to furthering my knowledge.
That can make it hard to remember what it's like to get started in a new field.
I've got my two beginner's books on calligraphy and my felt-tipped pens. If I were to try an A&S entry right now, my documentation would be something like, "And this is Unical, as described by Duffin and used in (some manuscripts). I'm using a felt-tipped pen because I'm still learning; a metal nib dip pen would be better, and a quill would be most appropriate." And my references would be two books.
Because what more can there be, right? "This is a period handwriting style, I've duplicated it, therefore this is period."
Of course there's more. There's layout and design and decoration (or lack of same). There are materials used. There are thousands of manuscript pages one could look through to learn... who knows what? Variations on technique or style? Methods of correcting errors?
I'm sure there's even more. But, having just barely scratched the surface of this art, I don't know enough to know what questions to ask! Which, in its way, is a positive. First, the trip itself, the "journey to knowledge," is fun and exciting in its own right, and I look forward to it. But second, if I "knew everything," I'd feel compelled to try and do everything, and paralyze.
Apprentices were not plonked down, lectured until they were stuffed full of lore, and set to work making masterpieces. They were given simple tasks, with explicit guidelines. When they mastered those, they could move on, and on, to more complex tasks and to understanding why the guidelines were the way they were. I'm at this apprentice stage, or even a pre-apprentice stage in which I'm learning the most basic skills an apprentice would need to do useful grunt work. It seems appropriate that the scholarship reflects that level of artistic involvement.