I was trying to come up with a topic for this week’s blog that wasn’t to do with the new cat (no matter how adorable she is) or to do with discussions of a book series that won’t be out until summer. It is a very interesting book series, and I am having an absolute blast writing the books, but if you don’t know the premise, or the characters, then it’s quite confusing and/or full of spoilers, and I don’t want to do that.
So I am going to tell you about puzzles.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Back at the beginning of all this pandemic nonsense, when the entire world was shut down and people were at home, with their family, for days, weeks on end, puzzles were all the rage. They are still very popular, but I don’t hear as much about them on the social media as I used to do. Now, I never got involved in the puzzle craze at the beginning of this situation, simply because I already spent my time at home—yay for being a writer!—and my family did, too, in a work from home capacity. So we were used to each other, and already had plenty to occupy us during the lockdown.
While I like puzzles quite a lot, I was a little busy and hadn’t done one for years. Then, the holidays rolled around. I was taking a very firm break from writing and from work to recharge my brain and do some planning for this year. I did not have enough sewing projects to keep me busy during the whole vacation, and I was not really in the mood for reading books all day. Most of the day, sure, but not all day.
Enter: the puzzle.
I had a few that were in a game drawer with my Scrabble set and some other card games, but I hadn’t pulled them out for a long time. I did so, and have been doing puzzles and ordering more puzzles since. I had forgotten how absolutely addicting it was to take tiny pieces and put them where they belong, according to colour and pattern. It occupies my brain and lets me focus on a problem while leaving my subconscious free to do other tasks. It’s engaging, and not nearly as mindless as watching television.
I suppose that all this means I have joined the lockdown mindset, but mostly, I just like solving puzzles. Whether that is by putting pieces of painted cardboard together, or solving a mystery in a book or movie, or even as an “armchair sleuth” subscription box, I am highly fond of puzzles and solving problems. There is just something so marvellously fun about finding a solution out of pieces that fit together in ways not yet known.
Perhaps that’s why I’m not very good at outlining my books. I think there is something inherently magical about writing a scene and then discovering that there is a new puzzle piece, that it fits together with something casually mentioned before. I enjoy the mystery, the surprise, and the certainty that everything will fit together somehow. I don’t always know how, and very occasionally, I have to go back and rework a few things to make the pieces slide into place, but it does fit.
Just don’t ask how I come up with ideas that are so puzzle-like, and fit together as if I planned it from the beginning. Because I have no idea, and I’m fairly certain my brain is smarter than I am. It’s one of the joys of being a writer.