The serendipity part: today a friend dropped by and handed me a book she'd found on the giveaway table at the public library, where people put old books they don't want. It was a copy in very good condition of GREGG SPEED BUILDING:COLLEGE EDITION by JRG himself, shorthand by Zoubek, the 1941 edition, i.e. the fourth, having first come out in 1932. Many of you know that you can hardly find a better all-in-one-package way to really get into Anniversary.
HOWEVER, I had also wandered into the Anything Goes section of this group where I found a fascinating post by Sidhetaba in a thread called "Speeds". He found some really good stuff on the Phoenix website, which, though titularly about machine shorthand, throws a lot of light on any kind of shorthand. The issue was the use of brief forms, and the point was that they can be a real encumbrance rather than a help. The writer explained that one could memorize far more of them than could easily be used on the fly, and that being able to just listen and write what one hears is far better in the long run unless the brief forms are thoroughly automatized.
The best part, though, was a quote from a veteran stenographer who was very skilled and comfortable and said "The longer I write, the longer I write," meaning that he reached the point of writing everything out in full. He also gave a virtual command that you should "ALWAYS" start after the speaker, and this echoes Swem referring to often being 20 words behind the speaker. This, of course, calls on a very good short term memory, not only to recall the last 20 words spoken but also to hear and remember the next 20 while writing the FIRST 20!
So do you see what I mean about being conflicted? I had just gotten a big boost as I described in the Jury Charge 1913 thread about the wonderful way the expert reporters used omissions and abbreviations to achieve their speed, then I get this great Anniversary textbook with all manner of such speedy devices, but then I find this other stuff which harks back to an interchange with JRG Anniversary about just writing Gregg freely, cultivating the hear-and-write approach.
The point of the Phoenix speed tips is incontrovertible so far as it goes: far better to be ready and able to write anything that comes up than to tax oneself memorizing briefs that may never come up enough to get automatic, or that work okay when you're studying them out of context but don't readily come to mind when they pop up in a real work situation.
(by jayepea1 for everyone)