Jigsaw Joy

There are few things in this world that provide the satisfaction of something done well, done right, and done. As in finished.

That what jigsaw puzzles do for me.

There's nothing wishy-washy about a jigsaw puzzle. Either the piece fits or it doesn't. If you get all the pieces in the right place, you get the picture.

I often see my writing the same way. If I can assemble a pile of pieces and fit them together just right, I might get the picture to look the way I wanted it to look when I first thought it up. Or, more likely, the way that I found I actually wanted it to look as I went along. As I remembered what really, really happened. As I discover that this piece actually goes in chapter 24, and that piece should have gone in much earlier and this other piece shouldn't go in at all. And oh, hey, why do I think I have a missing piece?

In a novel, I'm doing it all. Painting the picture, assembling the pieces, and cutting them out or in so that they fit together just right. Not as easy as it sounds. And I don't think it even sounds easy.

That's why the jigsaw puzzle that is lying behind me on the table is such a joy. The picture is already painted. All of the pieces are there. I just have to figure out where they go - and that has also been predetermined.

There is such satisfaction in finding the exact right piece, putting it in place, and seeing what was a bowlful of colored bits of cardboard emerge into one happy colorful whole that will brighten up that table for a few weeks.

Until I deconstruct it, put all the pieces back in the box, and haul it away to Value Village. And start on another one.

In the meantime, back at the computer there are several screenfuls of colorful bits of language waiting to be fitted together in what will soon be my second novel. Some need a little more color, some will probably fit better in another spot, and some just might not make the final cut.

The finished product will give me even more joy than finishing a 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle, because it will be all mine. And I won't be taking it to Value Village.

In the meantime, whenever I find myself frustrated over a choice of words or the placement of a piece of thought or action, I can just turn my chair around and find another piece of the other puzzle.

There's something about putting one of those puzzle pieces in the right place on the table that seems to help me put the right words in the right place here.