Puzzles and Games
The minute satisfaction of fitting the grooves of a jigsaw puzzle piece into place is just enough to make a person want to do it again, over and over. The process is an ongoing tease, where each section of completion presents another void that needs to be attacked. It’s equally absorbing and frivolous, a perfect indulgence when I can spare the time.
My family is big on puzzles and games of all sorts. I’m especially fond of jigsaws, crosswords, and KenKens. My family routinely plays Dominion, Pandemic, Scrabble, and Splendor when we’re together. In the past two weeks, I’ve played Codenames: Pictures, Terraforming Mars and Scythe for the first time, and I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s interesting, of course, to see how people’s personalities come out during a game, and it’s nice to share the time together, but also, honestly, I like playing for the game’s sake. I like to try to win, but I don’t mind too much if I don’t. As my son says I once taught him when he played soccer in Kindergarten, “The players who have the most fun are the real winners.”
Of course, writing a novel is a game. I make up the rules, cut the pieces, design the board, and tally the points. I’m at a stage with my latest draft when I’m once again going over the story line-by-line, trying to deepen the discoveries and push the characters to reveal more of themselves. Each edit gives me one of those tiny moments of satisfaction and leads me ahead to the next problem. I dare to say that this book, like a very large jigsaw, is gradually coming together.