Writing Nowadays–A WordPerfect World

My name is Steven and I use Corel WordPerfect.

Sometimes I feel so isolated and alone.  No one else I know loves WordPerfect.  I hear other people talk about using Word, and I feel left out.  They shout, “Word!” and smile and laugh along with them, but all the while I’m secretly staring at their F-keys and thinking how great it would be to reveal their codes.

Oh, I’ve tried converting.  But it never feels quite right.  Word insists everything be done a certain way, and I feel strange and uncomfortable letting it examine my hard drive.

In the old days, WordPerfect was accepted, even condoned.  Entire corporations used it exclusively.  People openly exchanged tips on how to create macros.  Touching a mouse was considered sissy.  Then along came Word.  It was nothing overt at first.  Word just quietly showed up in new computers, beckoning to new users because it was free, while WordPerfect still cost money.  Then it became more and more demanding.  It took over offices, and then entire corporations.  It forced everyone to convert or die.  And then, once it achieved this superiority, it stopped coming free on new computers and started tithing.

These days the entire world is built around Word, which makes life difficult for me.  It’s illegal to use WordPerfect at my job, which has a Microsoft contract.  I secretly tried uploading WordPerfect to my work computer once, and within hours, an IT person was on the phone demanding to know what I was doing.  She was understanding, and said she would keep the incident to herself if I removed the offending program  She even said I might be able to install WordPerfect on my own external hard drive and quietly use it that way as long as I kept quiet about it.  IT wouldn’t ask if I didn’t tell.

In public I act like I have a relationship with Word.  I send my editor and agent Word documents, and I use them at work, but it’s all a sham.  Secretly, in the closet space of my hard drive, I’m dressing up my sentences and paragraphs with WordPerfect code, where they sing and dance and sparkle beneath my fingertips.  But before they go out in public, I’m forced to strip all that away and put on the dull, plodding facade of Word.  The conversion never works quite right–spacing comes out uneven as a bad hem, fonts dangle off the page like lost earrings.  My copy editors whisper about it behind my back.

I’ve tried other options.  Open Office didn’t want to be exclusive.  Rough Draft kept slapping me around.  Google Docs pushed for too much involvement too quickly.  Werdsmith was just weird.

Only a few of my closest friends know the truth.  They offer tea and sympathy, but they don’t really understand how it feels to be born this way.  They go home to their happy little computers that are perfectly compatible with everyone else’s computers and their children who love Word as they do.  What really hurts is when my mother calls me for help with her own Word program.  I want to shout that I’m a proud WordPerfect user, but she’s from a different generation and wouldn’t understand.

Sometimes I lurk in dark corners of the Internet, seeking other WordPerfect users.  They’re few and far between, and always reluctant to give their real names.  We use screen names like ALT-F4 and CORELBOY87.  Occasionally my anonymous email drop receives a short, shy message with uneven lettering, asking if I want to exchange multinational symbols.  My mouth goes dry and my fingers hover over my keyboard–never my mouse–as I wonder what to say.  It might be a trap, or just bait from a Corel-curious Word user with a wife and documents.  Or it might be another lonely soul looking for companionship in the cruel Word world.

I press DELETE and run back to my Corel closet.  Maybe someday I’ll brave the slings and arrows of Microsoft Word and occupy the Internet.  Until then, I still have my F-keys.

–Steven Harper Piziks


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Writing Nowadays–A WordPerfect World — 13 Comments

  1. I used to love WordPerfect. Oh, 4.2! Oh, 5.1! The perfection, the epitome of DOS-based word processing…

    But then Windows happened, and I was never quite persuaded by the post-facto iterations; and then I hated Windows so much that I migrated to Linux. And there was a Linux iteration of WordPerfect, though I had to get a friend to mail me the disks from the US – and it crashed, and crashed, and…

    And then Microsoft bought a share of Corel, and suddenly there wasn’t a Linux iteration any more.

    And then I discovered TextMaker, which I love: it’s lightning-fast and rock-solid, and cross-platform, and it speaks Word fluently. I think it has a babelfish in its ear.

  2. My current copy of WordPervect is a bootleg from an IT friend.

    I love “reveal codes”

  3. I love WordPerfect! My dad introduced it to me—I think he got it from the Canadian Gov’t (he worked there)—and I’ve been pretty attached ever since. The ‘Make it Fit’ feature has been indispensable to my high school and university essays. Reveal Codes is just amazing, of course. It’s saved me from so many formatting frustrations. I wrote my first serious stories as a teenager, at night in the dark, on a second-hand laptop running Windows 3.1 and WordPerfect. WP will always have a special place in my heart. I’m currently editing an RPG handbook for a friend who also uses WordPerfect(!!) using the review feature, which works perfectly, as it were.

  4. WordPerfect is obedient. Word keeps trying to tell me what to do. I could make WordPerfect do anything except sing and dance, and it probably would have done that too if I had wanted a singing, dancing document. Word just turns into a tangled mess with out-of-place indents and oddly-placed fonts. WordPerfect is clearly the superior program. But Word has spread like a virus. Remember when the U.S. Department of Justice sued Microsoft for acting like a monopoly and won? They used WordPerfect then. Guess what DOJ is using now.

  5. I discovered WP at version 8, under Windows 95. I nursed that install through OS upgrades, Win98 and XP. Briefly veered away for a free copy of staroffice (before it was released as openoffice). Returned when I got a castoff copy of WP10 (wow, I can now use long file names!) from a friend who was upgrading to 11, and was using that when I discovered Linux and converted everything over to OO. What are they up to now? Last version I saw was X3.

    I really miss “reveal codes”, the OpenOffice devs don’t get it, just keep asking “why do you *need* it?”. The answer for me involves my main peeve with OO/LO — horizontal lines. This problem has existed since the early days of OO 3.x, predating the Libre fork — and is still not fixed! Once you insert a horizontal, it never goes away. You can seemingly delete it, but the hidden coding remains in place; attempting to create new blank lines where the removed horizontal was only creates a new horizontal line every time! This could be worked around (if not fixed) in a heartbeat if OO/LO had “Reveal Codes”!

  6. I wish Word would catch up with the early versions of Word Perfect! Since being forcibly transferred, I seem to spend half my life figuring out how to turn off automatic functions and trying to guess how to delete hidden code. Some random line and space insertions are never overcome, the mathematical precision WP gave margins and varying classes of indentation still hasn’t been recovered, and you’d think OSHA would have something to say about adding “Ribbon” Strain to Mouse Pain….

  7. I’m a college student and a former comp. sci. major, and I’ve been using WordPerfect…probably since birth. Unlike Word, I never have to fight with it, because we fit, WordPerfect and me. I also TA for a computer literacy class, and when I first started, the professor had to give me the latest version of Word, because I didn’t have it already. While I installed it, he got a good look at what word processor I’d been using instead. “Is that…WordPerfect?” he asked, incredulously.

    “Yes,” I answered proudly. The world can try to force Word on me as much as it likes, but WordPerfect has my heart. Always will.

  8. I too proudly admit to owning and loving WordPerfect!

    Quite a few years ago, I took simultaneous college classes in Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Not even halfway through the classes, I already knew which program I was going to buy.

    You can have my WordPerfect when you pry it from my cold, dead keyboard.

  9. Steven, you are not alone! *makes the secret WP hand gesture to identify self to other rebels*
    Aah, the memories: Alt-F4, F6, F7! I am getting flushed and hot and need to fan myself – perhaps this useless MS Word CD will finally come in fanning useful.
    I miss reveal codes! I miss speed and not having to use a mouse! I still type Function keys that Word (arrogant upstart) chastises me for. Oh WP, you may be dead, but you will ever live on in my heart. I am divergent to the core.

  10. I have written 100s of stories with WordPerfect. I have used it since I first got a computer. It is what I know and I wouldn’t use anything else, so, you aren’t the only one who loves it.