Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Word Away!

MANILA: If you think you are too old, you are. If you think you will not benefit from it, you will not. What you think is what you get!

This Ilocano is past 75, and I'm busier than a bee and at the height of my creativity; I thank God for every day. How about you?

I'm a self-taught writer, beginning in high school yet. I'm writing this because I want you to know that in substance, in creativity, age doesn't matter if you don't mind. Thank God!

I will be 76 some 6 months from now, still at the personal computer and mostly working with Microsoft Word 2013. A lady author just visited me this afternoon, to give me back for my Lenovo Flex2 touchscreen 14-inch laptop the adaptor to an external 22-inch ViewSonic LED monitor; I forgot that adaptor the other day at the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center (NSPRDC) in Tiaong, Quezon where she works and where we had a meeting on the book we are producing about Philippine native animals. I showed her how I could be writing on the Lenovo monitor while doing searches in the Internet on the ViewSonic monitor. (If you have an external monitor, in Windows 10, go to Control Panel, click Display, click Project to a second screen, click Extend. I learned this from my daughter Neenah.)

The lady was born the year after I first learned to use Word 1, which was 1987. I cannot forget that year because I wasn't sold on using Word yet, as I was hooked on WordStar 4, but Bernie Quimpo, Editor of the magazine Farming Today, gave me a gift of a Word diskette and a Xeroxed copy of the Word manual, telling me, "Frank, subukan mo nga itong Word? Mukhang maganda." Why don't you try Word? It looks good. And I did and indeed, days later, I found that I loved it. Thus began a lifelong romance. I was 47 then. It wasn't love at first sight, but now I know that love works in mysterious ways.

After 28 years of Word dynamics, I can now use Word 2013 – indeed, even Word 2007 – as my favorite desktop publisher. No, not PageMaker, not InDesign, and not Microsoft Publisher. How good is this word processor as a publisher? I have been using it as such since 1997, that is, it was then Word 5, if I remember right.

I almost forgot: When I was Editor in Chief of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science (published by the Crop Science Society of the Philippines based at the campus of UP Los Baños) for the 2001-2008 issues, I used Word 2002 and later Word 2003 in desktop publishing the journal, and I accomplished 2 things: one, I made it up-to-date in 3 years from being late 3 years; two, I made it world-class, or ISI – I succeeded where the editors of the last 25 years failed.

Unbelievable? You better believe it! Right now, my hands are full with Word 2013 and 3 books, writing, editing, author's editing, desktop publishing all at the same time, these volumes (descriptions, not titles):

(1)   Dictionary of science for journalists.
(2)   Compendium on native animals of the Philippines.
(3)   Collection of stories by an environmentalist lawyer.

Each of those books is 200 pages in length. The first 2 books are my original ideas; the 3rd is the original concept of the author.

Book 1:
The dictionary on agriculture and related sciences, I wrote this one. I have done 3 revisions. It is not a glossary of terms, where you find technical definitions – the USDA has one, and so has the Australian Department of Primary Industries; the American and Australian glossaries are meant for the technically minded readers. It's tempting to simply copy from those and revise much so that the plagiarism is not seen, but I would be deceiving myself, besides the fact that I would be negating the fact that I am an original aboriginal. To be published by Inanglupa Movement, which is headed by William Dar, the 15-year Director General of ICRISAT based in India.

Book 2:
The compendium on native domesticated animals of my country, I produced this one. I'm on my final edit and inserting additional images. This is to be published by the NSPRDC with financial assistance from the Bureau of Agricultural Research. The authors are Rene Santiago (Center Chief IV), Angel Lambio (UPLB Professor Emeritus), and Karen Dimaranan, all animal husbandry experts. It's just the way the items are presented that was my concept. (The book cover is a collage that I did at the NSPRDC office with Picasa 3.9; the images included were selected by the authors, with me working onscreen using the Center's 32-inch LED monitor.)

Book 3:
The collection of stories, I am an Author's Editor, which means I guide ever so gently the author, international lawyer Tony Oposa Jr, to what I think is the best design for his book, including a common format of the stories. We are on Draft 3. I will not write or rewrite the stories, only suggest some phrases to enhance the flow from Story 1 to Story 100, so that the writing can turn from Good to Excellent, or from Excellent to Superb.

And yes, the books are all in English, American English of course, which is to me a welcome gift from the American occupations, military and educational, of the Philippines.

And how good am I using Word 2013? Here's an example: One of those books has 8 parts, and I decided today to place Part 2 as Part 1 – and in the blink of an eye, all of 30 pages of that part of the book were moved forward as one, and their page numbers automatically changed to the new arrangement. That is the genius of Word 2013 in Outlining Mode; that is the wizardry that is yours if you want it.

And why am I telling you all this? To convince you that you're never too old to learn, or never too young to start learning to use the tools that the Age of Computers has brought this world.

I'm addressing this essay especially to the ones who are Senior Citizens and/or those who have books in their heads and don't know how to get them out and publish. You can do it yourself, I mean the writing and rewriting – just learn the basics of word processing. If you already know how to type, learning to use Word 2002, or Word 2007, or Word 2010, or Word 2013, shouldn't be a problem. (If you need an author's editor, you can call me at frankahilario@gmail.com.)

I almost forgot, but I was reminded because I have been reading, a habit that helps me think some more and better. I have written and published more than 2,000 posts since 2006 (check out my blog, A Magazine Called Love. blogspot.com). A great many of those essays, each more than 1,000 words, contain my free advice on how to be creative yourself; you have to learn creative thinking if you want to be a better author, writer, ghostwriter, seminar speaker, lecturer, preacher, columnist, journalist – you can't get away with writing well. I have dedicated the rest of my life to sharing for free what I have learned at the University of Hard Knocks. Quote Investigator says it was Dale Turner, not Pablo Picasso, not William Shakespeare, who said what I have just been reminded of, a very Christian thought:

"The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away."

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