Second Draft, Alice’s Poem, Diamond Jubilee

After a couple of months retraining myself to use the writing line, here is my second attempt at the opening poem of “Alice in Wonderland” for your comment and critique. This time, I focused on penmanship and punctuation, and wrote slowly. Please forgive the sub-par photography — I am experimenting with various ways of capturing pen-on-paper to digital media and my efforts are merely aspirational.

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13 comments Add yours
  1. This is much nicer and very legible! Your proportions are very nice.

    The nd stroke is supposed to be a continuous rising curve. I see a tendency to write an "n" and then rise. You can practice the under th, nd, and md in the same exercise because they all have the same movement. See this model as an example:

    This should help you in writing words like "band", "land", "and", etc.

    1. Thank you, Carlos! I worked pretty hard on this version and looks like I've got a good payoff! I will definitely pay more attention to the under-th, nd, md triple. You absolutely nailed it because I really wasn't at all comfortable with nd as I wrote. I may have done better with the over-th, dn, dm triple; I felt less uncertain about it.

      I spent a lot of time practicing right-s, f, v as a triple and left-s, p, and b as another triple. I may have done better with those. 

      Once again, I am grateful for your sharp eyes. I am having enormous fun with all this!

  2. Hello, Brian!
    I have a question: have you used guidelines for writing the forms that are not visible on the scans? Because I feel like there is a sway in your shorthand writing that doesn’t in your transcript.
    Actually, I have another question: do you feel at ease with the space between the lines?

  3. Hi, Christine,

    I wrote the shorthand on a light-table with plain, cold-white, 67-lb, vellum bond above standard, greenish Gregg paper underneath for guidelines. I may have twisted the bond little-by-little over the Gregg paper over time it took, accounting for the drift you see. There is probably some non-linear foreshortening in my handheld IPhone photography as well.

    As far as spacing, I tried writing the Gregg double-spaced — leaving one empty Gregg line (8.7 mm, I believe) between each line of written Gregg, but that didn't look good to me at all (that's not the only version that didn't look good; I probably wrote this poem more than 50 times over the last couple of months (sheepish grin))! Instead, I decided to live with some outlines extending into the line below and to write around them. So far as I could tell, that is the approach taken in book plates. The line beginning with "To beg a tale…" in the second stanza, I think, is the worst offender.

    To answer your question directly, no, I am not at ease with the vertical spacing of the lines. I'd do better writing within 8.7-mm lines if there were two or three mm breathing room between pairs of 8.7-mm guidelines. I'd have to make custom paper to get that, or just write on 11-mm paper and mentally do 8.7-mm lines. It's probably within my skill level now to write with good, standard sizes within over-standard guidelines. I'm more than happy to take guidance on this point!

    I wrote the transcript directly on Gregg steno, as you saw. At max over-contrasting, the photographs don't look good to me and I need some new ideas!

    That whole get-up with the light-table was part of my experiments with digitizing handwriting, long and short. I wanted to write on plain paper that looks better at max over-constrast. I tried a version photographing shorthand directly from Gregg paper, and it looked ugly, like the transcript. I decided to go with the plain-paper experiment for the all-important shorthand. 

    It's another area where I will be eagerly grateful for ideas!

    I admit I obsessed on a lot of details, perhaps in sub-optimal directions, to do a better job on this draft than on the first one.

    1. Correction to Christine —

      The line that begins "her edict 'to begin it!'" is the vertical excursion that caused me the most angst with spacing.

        1. I always admire professionnal writing… the forms are so freely shaped and yet, so precise. I'm sure you remarked the space around the forms. 🙂

    2. I think it's important to feel comfortable with the spacing: it enables you to avoid a concern that is rather unnecessary and focus on the accuracy of the drawing. (I have the impression that the small 'p' of 'pilgrims' in the last stance is due to the spacing.) Of course, some forms are quite big and can cause problems… like "gingerbread" in the professional example. It's probably inevitable sometimes but shoud be minimized, in my opinion.

      You can also try to write smaller shorthand forms, I read it could be a good exercise.

      For the quality of photographies, the light grey areas of the pictures — the page — ideally, shouldn't be darkened but lightened while it's the contrary for the writing. This function exists in professional softwares but I'm sure it exists also in more affordable tools like Gimp.

      1. I'm learning a lot by studying that Christmas story. It is beautifully done.

        You're right, I just noticed the "p" in "pilgrim's" is too close to an "s," and it's precisely because I felt crowded, there. 

        Dupraw's advice on size is for each individual to stick with a natural size. Look at this one

        His is also beautiful writing, completely different in feel, but equally legible and inspiring. My longhand is normally huge, slow, and ballistic and I really have to fight to keep my shorthand a reasonable size.

          1. Beauty is on the eye of the beholder and to each his own, but I don't find Dupraw’s writing common at all — in fact, I don't know of anyone that writes the way he used to write. His proportions are very distinct and his style is very bold and very legible, even when he writes from dictation as he did in some of the Anniversary books. Perhaps you may not find it as pretty as Mrs. Richmond or Mr. Rader who wrote the book plates in a controlled setting and not under the stress of dictation and for that reason you consider Dupraw's shorthand more like common handwriting, but being legible and fast is much more important than being pretty and slow. Especially, since he was able to write at 300 wpm!

            Just my 2 cents.

    3. Experiment with different sizes. A size you can write confidently is faster than having to get small shapes exactly right. My son worked with an OT for handwriting. During the first visit, when she was testing to see what his problems were, she wrote on unlined paper, and on very wide lines to see what his natural size was. Small hands sometimes can't make large letters. She also had him write very large letters, 12 inches high, so he used his whole arm not tiny cramped finger movements.

      One handwriting series has two lines closely spaced to hold lower case letters, with no guidance for ascenders and descenders. That made his printing much more consistent. I think lines for d, f, p, ch, it would be good to practice with, but haven't gotten around to trying.


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