I confess to being a puzzle addict.
I started with codeword-type logic puzzles until I discovered sudoku and its variants.
Since I retired, I tackle anything that looks interesting: puzzles I would previously have dismissed as too challenging and time-wasting.
Guess what? They weren’t as demanding as I’d thought.
Learning to write has brought similar experiences. At first, I was ambivalent about spending time on practice exercises or writing group assignments that took me away from whatever story I was working on.
Now I know better.
I’ve found that polishing an unpromising pebble of a topic can turn it into a little gem. (I have yet to produce any diamonds.)
My confidence is improving. Each time, the task is less daunting, the writing freer, and the polishing a little easier.
I don’t have so much time for puzzles since I started writing.
For the last week or so I haven’t had much time for blog writing either, so here’s something I made earlier…
Puzzling it Out
When my school reports said, ‘Could do better if tried,’ I was miffed, ’cos I’d done all the homework required. Back then, crosswords were boring and WordSearch was worse. But those Codeword-type puzzles – they captured me first. No questions involved to mislead or confuse, no anagrams, numbers or puzzling clues. Then, with husband, and children, and gainful employment, I had no free time for such trivial enjoyment. Not with meals to be cooked and house-work overdue, weekend laundry, and ironing, and shopping to do… Till the morning I picked up a free daily rag when the book I’d been reading was not in my bag. I’d a seat on the train and there wasn’t much news, and the schoolboy beside me was rattling through the Sudoku on page twenty-eight. I’d not tried ’em. Not numbers – since school I could never abide ’em. How hard could it be? So I read the instructions. Just logic, deduction, and no calculations. The two-star was easier by far than it looked. We pulled into my station – by then I was hooked. So, from there, in my lunch break the five-star I’d savour, and pick up some more with the evening’s free paper. Then – one lunchtime – that dunderhead from Personnel flashed a Killer Sudoku. It sounded a bell when he said, ‘I like these,’ with a smug kind of look. I thought – if he could do them… and bought a whole book. At home, as the children grew up and moved on, I’d more time in the evenings with all of them gone. New puzzles – like Gogen – appeared now and then. I ignored number crosswords but mastered KenKen. In retirement, with no work to tax my mind much, I tackled Kakuro, cross-numbers and such. Though it’s true, even with the solutions to hand, cryptic crosswords are often hard to understand. I once thought them too hard so I didn’t even try. What might I have achieved if I’d aimed for the sky? I need to get out more, my children have said, Go cycling, or walking, or swimming instead. For, what use is an exercised mind, keen and taut, if entombed in a body that’s ground to a halt?