The Old-fashioned Dictionary


Every writer’s desk should have a dictionary on it. Clearly, we all know about the online word lookup function of the computer or the word of the day app. But, for the writer, nothing replaces the serendipity of discovery that goes along with the actual handling of a book where words are compiled.

Writers are wordsmiths, traffickers in words, who move threads of inspiration and ideas through words into coherent passages of engagement for others. From the intrigue words, and of knitting words together to fashion storytelling narratives, writers create works of art.

Nathaniel Hawthorne put it this way: “Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

Ernest Hemingway said: “All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

Emily Dickinson said: “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

Anatole France said: “Dictionary: the universe in alphabetical order.”

Of course we should find a book of words on every writer’s desk.