The Envious Lobster – penmanship critique

I’ve been working on my Gregg for just over a year and with Carlos’ encouragement I’m posting a sample of my current writing.  The text is taken from a collection of poems by Hannah Flagg Gould entitled “The Mother’s Dream”.

Any comments about the shorthand is appreciated, especially if you found a part difficult to read because of the penmanship.

I also recorded this poem amongst a few others for Librivox if you want to read along with audio.  Please try to read without the audio first to catch any penmanship errors though!

Attachment: The_Envious_Lobster_in_Gregg_Shorthand



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14 comments Add yours
  1. Your use of a 'relief' type nib, that used to be used for writing with thick and thin strokes, makes reading the outlines difficult. It looks like an 'e' on the end of the word. Also, you do not have an easily distinguishable difference between the length of 'p' and 'b' or of 'f ' and 'v'. I would recommend you use a  Pilot G2 pen 0.38 size ball.  

    1. I've grown so accustomed to using stub and italic nibs that it didn't occur to me it might be harder for others to read.  Thank you for mentioning that.   And thank you for pointing out the proportion issue, I shall work on that.

  2. I certainly enjoyed the poem — Thanks for posting it! I stumbled a little with the peculiarities resulting from the calligraphy pen, but was ultimately able to adjust. Also, I would work on scale: Try to keep B at least twice the height of P, and V twice the height of F, the DM blend twice the height of the TN blend, etc. The same goes for the differences between N, M, and the MN blend.

    I also am fairly new to Gregg Shorthand, so I practice every day using graph paper. This provides vertical and horizontal guides that make it easier to maintain differences in scale.  All in all, I think you have beautiful penmanship. Also, remember that shorthand is written, first and foremost, for yourself.  If you can read it, then it's fine. 



    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the selection, the author was popular in her day from what I gather and it's easy to see why.  You might be surprised to know that I actually wrote this on and usually use 5mm dot grid paper.  The dots don't show up on the images captured which is why it looks like there are no lines.  As you are yet another person pointing out proportions, it seems I have some work to do there smiley.

      I like the "twice the size" rule as a guide to help with proportions.  I remember reading about that somewhere but haven't really thought about it since.

  3. Loved the selection! Your penmanship is good. You keep your proportions for the most part. I won't worry about keeping exact proportions now because that comes with practice, especially if you use lined paper. In fact, when practicing penmanship, always use lined paper. In the past, that's how penmanship samples were submitted by students to the Gregg Writer. Here in the blog we have a penmanship template that you can use which may also help you. Once you have your proportions down pat, then you can write anywhere you want.

    I could read your writing with very little difficulty. There were some words written not according to Anniversary theory, but like Dr. Gregg said, if you can read them, no harm done. A few outlines were written as if they were DJS, with the past tense "d" joined to the brief forms ("exchanged", "reappeared"), instead of using the disjoined "t." Also remember that the ending is omitted in words ending in a strong vowel ("bright", the abbreviation principle), and lastly remember the substitution of the broken circle with the "a" circle in "alive."

    It seems that your fountain pen has the flexible nib used in Pitman. Pens with the "shorthand" label that were made in the UK have a flexible nib. Fountain pens for Gregg have a stiff nib. Esterbrook and Sheaffer used to make Gregg pens with the correct nib. I have a collection of those and used them regularly. They write very well, as long as you have ink that is on the heavier side so that they don't leak. I like Private Reserve inks, in general. You can find nice Gregg fountain pens on eBay at a good price. However, to write the shorthand for the blog, I changed to gel pens. I was using a Pilot G-2 (0.38 mm) for quite some time, but in the quest for a pen that could produce smoother and thinner lines, I found the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica (0.3 mm) in an art supplies store and I have been using since last summer. It is an artists pen, and I have been happy with it.

    You can read more about pens here, here, here, and here.

    1. Another happy customer for the selection, yay!

      As I mentioned to Connie, this was actually written on dot-grid which doesn't show up in the scans, so while it doesn't looked lined, I am cognizant of "lining" as I'm writing.  Of course, this probably means my concept of proportion is perhaps even less refined than you might have initially thought.  I wasn't aware of the penmanship template so that will be very interesting to work with.

      Thank you for the theory pointers.  I often find myself using the joined D for past tense as a default and so I don't always think about the rule to use disjointed T for past tense with briefs.  In a way, this clarifies why that might have been changed later on.  A question though – why is the outline for "reappeared" considered a brief form?  Thanks for noticing that the "bright" and "alive" outlines are incorrect.  I remember now the rule for "bright", but what is the rule used for alive?  I don't seem to remember that one.  In fact I've wondered why "life" doesn't use the broken A so there's obviously a rule here I've overlooked.

      As to the nib, it was actually not a flex, just a stub.  I'm not fond of writing with fine nibs but I'll give the Esterbrook a go with one of the Gregg nibs that you suggest.  I suspect there's one hiding in my collection.

      Thanks again for the feedback!

      1. You're welcome! As for the rules, check paragraphs 114 and 143. "Alive" and "live" are considered derivatives of "life." The past tense rules are not very clear in the manual, but in general, you use the disjointed t with abbreviated words.

  4. Thank you for this offering!  I don't know Anniversary so well, but I could easily follow along with the recording.  Your penmanship looked legible to me. 

    It's wonderful to see more people posting shorthand literature here on the blog!  smiley 

    1. Glad that you liked it and that you could read along without difficulty.  One good thing about learning Anni is that all the other Gregg versions are easy to read.  I am curious — other than the reverse-R, what do you find hard to decipher on a first reading of Anni text?  Am I right that you're "native" Gregg is DJS and Notehand?

  5. Hello,
    I can’t read English Gregg, so my remarks are only about the style…
    the “right-motion s”, the “f” and the “v” at the beginning of words, in my opinion, should start a little bit more on the right for the curve to have more space to unfold.

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