Jigsaw Puzzles-part 3
April 13, 2020
It’s been a while since I last posted a note about my obsession with solving jigsaw puzzles. I’m not so sure it’s an obsession. Obsessions are compulsions, mania, and preoccupations. I’m not thinking of any of these things.
It also means desire, fascination, enthusiasm, and passion. Those, I definitely am. Overall, I am fascinated by solving these jigsaw puzzles.
Why? I don’t rightly know, but this I do know. I am visually oriented. Being an artist tweaks my visually creative side. I’m also a writer, currently working on my next novel, which also stimulates my creativity, but not in a visual way. That is, if you don’t include my dreams, which gives me lots of plot twists in my novels. For me, writing is both creative and logical, working both sides of my brain.
Solving jigsaw puzzles is similar to my writing, as it exercises my visual creativity and, more so, my logical side. While I don’t create the image, I assemble them from a vast array of parts, that to many is an overwhelming and daunting task.
Using my logical side, I’ve learned to break the massive pile of pieces in the box into smaller collections, so that I can manage them more efficiently. As a software engineer and programmer, I’ve always done that. I take a massive problem and break them down into smaller and smaller components so that at the lowest levels, I can write the code to solve one thing and one thing only. It’s the same thing with jigsaw puzzles.
I tend to start by creating five piles, one of the edge pieces, and the rest organized by basic color patterns. Part of the reason is my puzzle board has four built-in trays to store the pieces. Then, I start assembling the puzzle using the edge pieces.
Then, I look for the more unique colors and patterns. Start small. Simplify. Keep it simple. The ‘KISS’ principle, which means ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid.’ It’s a term I learned in college and apply every day of my life. It works.
Finding the commonalities in the plethora of pieces excites me. I get an endorphin boost whenever I fit one piece into another. Then, I fill in where ever and before I know it, the overwhelming task of assembling the massive number of pieces gets smaller and smaller until, viola, the puzzle is done. Yea!!!!!
Want to see?
I’ve created a image gallery of the puzzles I’ve completed. You can find it in the ‘About Me’ menu on my website, or click this quicky link. Jigsaw Puzzle Portfolio
I’ll add more as I finish them.
With all the time I have on my hands, dealing with this global pandemic and staying home and healthy, I’m going through my stash of puzzles quickly. More are on order, but with the slow delays in deliveries, it will be weeks yet before my next one appears at my doorstep. Oh, well.
So that’s how I am spending my time, while forced to stay at home. I write, peruse the internet, read, and solve jigsaw puzzles, not to mention spending time with my girlfriend and partner, with whom I stay home and stay safe. Come to think of it, working on my jigsaw puzzles is helping us from getting on each other’s nerves and killing each other.
What are you doing to stay safe? I’d love to hear from you.
January 31, 2019
Well, I had an unexpected day off from work due to weather, so I worked on my jigsaw puzzle.
The arctic vortex is sitting over much of the northern hemisphere dropped outdoor temperatures to well below 0 Fahrenheit (-20c) or worse with the wind chill twenty to -50-60f (-45c) in many areas, keeping me indoors today.
Voila, I finished it. Click on the picture to see the full-sized completed effort. Whoo hoo!
Now what ???????
Oh right. I’ve got a book to finish writing.
Over the December 2018 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 puzzle 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 let me go back to writing? Or, will I be on the hunt 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. In short, 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. 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, and 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.