Puzzle-Solving

 The answer was "Steen," by the way. And I made another mistake: 54 down was "I won," not "I win." 

The answer was "Steen," by the way. And I made another mistake: 54 down was "I won," not "I win." 

I just recently started doing crossword puzzles. I have a lot of fond memories from growing up, sitting around with my grandfather and my dad trying to solve one together. We must have killed hours that way, (with me being easily the least helpful person in the world)  trying to remember the order of the letters in the Greek alphabet or who the 15th President was without cheating. 

I occasionally tried them by myself, but always found them to be too frustrated for my mind to handle. Not too long ago; though, I discovered the NY Times has an app where you can do their crosswords. Of course, me being a (certified) non-genius, I can only do the easy ones so far. 

Of course, being the type of person I am, I can't help but see a lot of parallels between doing these puzzles and composing--at least for me. Without any thought to order, here's a few of them:

  • The answers you put down first influence and limit the choices you have later. 
  • You will sometimes (rarely, the better you get) have to cheat and look something up.  
  • Often times, you'll have a problem, get absolutely stuck, and have to come back to it three or four times--sometimes days or weeks apart--before you finally get the answer. You just go on to another one in the meantime. 
  • When you finish, you yourself are the person who is the most proud.  
  • Very often, you'll think you're done, only to find out that you have made several egregious errors: some of them are just typos--but most of them are because you were just plain wrong. 
  • Most often, you will need to spend a great deal of time alone to finish.
  • You will experience 20 moments where it is a struggle to finish for every 1 where you breeze through easily. 
  • The more you do it, the easier it gets. Then you take it to the "next level," and it seems impossible all over again. 
  • You will acquire a unique and otherwise useless vocabulary which can be used as a "bag of tricks" to help you out of a bind or move you towards completion faster. 
  • You are uniquely aware of how many people are out there who are so much better  at this than you. Depending on your mood, you will either look at these geniuses with envy or awe. 

I'm sure there are more (there always is, with everything, isn't there?) but you'll have to excuse me: it's late and I think I can squeeze in one more before I fall asleep. It's better than Candy Crush, right?