The Creative Power of Word


I learned to type on a manual machine sometime in 1965 and saw the move to electric typewriters as all I’d ever need.  Late in the 80s in Taiwan the agency I worked for installed a knockoff computer on a desk and a box of pirated software floppy disks in a drawer. I used it like a typewriter. I came late to computer word processing.  It took me years to move over (not necessarily up) from DOS based to a Windows system. Even then I remained years behind the curve of new versions. In Taiwan I used pirated software until about 2015. That’s what was on office computers.  During sojourns in the US I had open-source alternatives.

Early In the 21st century, working at a news organization that not only had licensed but also updated software, my affair with Microsoft Word began. She was  user-friendly. My productivity, if not my creativity, ramped up. As I learned more of her futures, she helped me get things to look better on the page. Like many people I overused the many fonts, gimmicks and clip art, but I settled down soon enough. Productivity issues solved, I made some progress on creativity.

Of late, most mornings I spend a few minutes reading and contemplating. That typically includes a few verses from the Bible plus a few thoughts from a favorite writer. In recent months I crept through some of the more poorly written epistles in the New Testament. I found myself wishing that if these were indeed verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, that she had been a better editor.  Finishing those last week I shifted to the minor prophets. The favorite writer’s stuff is a compilation of pages and paragraphs from many of his books, chosen by someone else. In recent days they’ve been paens to the superb excellence of the Scriptures. This was hardly in synch with my recent months’ struggles with those epistles. Grumpiness aside, I must admit I’ve been caused to ponder the creative power of Word (not the Microsoft variety).

It only takes a poorly chosen word to turn a romantic evening into a disaster. It only takes a pointedly chosen and well aimed word to puncture an ego and throw someone into despondency. One word can convey conviction, resignation or creation. The writer upon whose comments I reflected this morning worked in and from English. His use of “word” is based on the opening lines of the fourth gospel. Chinese translations use “tao” (way). “In the beginning was the way…” The benefit of that alternative reading, in a way,  spurs creativity.

David Alexander resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.