I found The Complete Guide to Calligraphy: Master Scripts of the West and East, Step-by-Step with 45 Projects by Ralph Cleminson at a discount store. This is the type of book I'd never pay retail $35 for but for $10 hot damn yes I'll take it home.
And since I inherited an ancient cheap fountain pen from my mom along with a bottle of equally ancient ink, I had a go at calligraphy since the book contains step-by-step instructions on the order and number and direction of strokes that compose each letter for a variety of different fonts. It was tedious and slightly rather a little bit hard at first, but I got the hang of it eventually. The above is the level I'm at after two days of messing around and not following directions such as drawing out lines and calculating angles and practicing strokes.
It's pretty fun. Then again, I do have a masochistic nature. Which is why I wrote my friend an 8-page letter in calligraphy without practicing beforehand. Page 1 is a mess but page 8 isn't bad.
It has also given me new insight and consideration for when characters in fantasy novels write stuff--since if it's Ye Elde Fantasye, they're not carrying around pencils and ballpoint pens. It's likely either quills or fountain or dip pens, and since the letter "g" in Carolingian font (the main style I used in the above) takes no less than 5 separate strokes, and all other letters also require multiple strokes in a certain order and keeping things level and the same size is no frolic in the park, uh, well, let's just say I have a new respect for penmanship in olden times. That's the sort of detail I never really dwelled upon since, you know, it's usually not important. But now I know. And appreciate.
(Also for dip pens you have to reload pretty often, and then wipe off the excess. I don't need to use a blotter but I imagine it must suck to worry about smearing your hard work.)
I have played around with fountain pens in the past--I had a cartridge pen that always bled everywhere and I got discouraged and dumped it once the ink dried up inside and everything got clogged--but I rather like messing about with this dip pen and nib. Especially since it makes my ugly handwriting look nicer.
Have you tried calligraphy pens before? Is your handwriting a symphony of form and function or is it more like the scratchings of a blind chicken on crack?