Over the holidays, my girlfriend/partner gave me a jigsaw puzzle as a gift. I don’t know whether to be ecstatic over the thoughtfulness of the gift or cringe by the vast time it’s taking to solve the jigsaw puzzle.
But first, let me backup.
Last fall, we went over to a friend’s house for dinner and conversation, catching up since we last saw each other. At that occasion, our friends had a jigsaw puzzle of their own they were working on. Interested, and with their permission, I found and placed a few pieces and thought nothing of it.
Apparently, my girlfriend noticed and got me a jigsaw puzzles of my own which she presented over the holidays. She delighted me with the thoughtfulness of the gift. I hadn’t worked on one in decades, probably since I was a kid.
Plus, it was a puzzle involving one of my favorite subjects, mermaids. Here, a Disney rendering of Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and her family and friends. Not that I am into the Disney character that much, just that it was a mermaid scene. Thoughtful or not, I hadn’t considered that I’d be all that interested in solving the damn thing.
Oh, how I was ever wrong.
For three weeks now, I’ve spent significant time on this complex 750 piece puzzle. Oh sure, I could have been working on a 1000 piece puzzle, but 750 is a good number after such a long time. I’m about 3/5th done with the jigsaw puzzle.
As I place piece after piece, I’m finding it easier to find others and fill them in. I hope I’m not missing one. That would really piss me off. Either way, I’m having fun solving the puzzle. The big question is, when I’m done with it, feeling good about my accomplishment, will it will satisfy me and go back to writing? Or, will I be hunting for a new one eventually building a collection of dozens of puzzles? It’s a dilemma for sure.
Sometimes I think I’m wasting time by solving the jigsaw puzzle. It’s taking a lot of time to work it, time that may be better spent on more productive things, such as writing, drawing or painting. Then, as I consider that thought, I realize that as I do this jigsaw puzzle; I am having fun, and I am exercising my mind. You may ask, how am I doing that?
That’s a good question. I’ve done the bulk of the puzzle upside down. That’s right, the top of the puzzle is closest to me, and the bottom is furthest away from me.
Why? It’s a technique I learned ages ago in creating a drawing or painting from a photograph. Turn it upside down, and your mind stops trying to fill in the gaps with imagery that does not exist. Did you know your brain will do that? Be it music, images, data, or just about anything, the human mind will fill gaps with what it thinks makes sense. Turning the picture upside down forces the brain to stop doing that. It is forcing me to look at patterns, shapes, and colors to find the missing piece. It’s an alternate way of looking at life.
Application to Everyday Life
When I decided whether it was worthwhile to write about solving my jigsaw puzzle, I realized something. The methods I use, or learning to use, in the solution to this problem are the techniques I use in everyday life and in writing my novels. If you think about it, coming up with a plot that makes sense and plausible, is like solving a jigsaw puzzle.
I create characters that interact with each other to tell a story. The story could be about anything, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is enticing the reader to see enough to keep reading, provide conflict and drama along the way, to reach a believable ending. In short, I try to write my stories as if you, the reader, were living the plot, by escaping death, loving life, solving a problem or enjoy themselves in bed with a favorite partner.
It’s the journey that matters.
So, as I sit in front of my jigsaw puzzle or write my next great novel, remember this. I will relentlessly search every elusive piece that hides from my intense gaze. I will find you and put you into your place in the world. You cannot escape, I will assimilate you.
And when I do, all will be fine in the world.
What are you thoughts? Care to comment? Do you agree or disagree? Send me a note. I’d love to hear from you.
For more about me
For more about me as an author/writer, check-out my website RichardVerry.com, highlighting my novels and stories available to read or purchase.
To learn more about me as an artist, check-out my online art gallery at