I received a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas, a beautiful one of a picture of teacups in all colours and patterns and shapes. I was given this particular one because I collect teacups (at least I did before we moved to Bermuda–currently my collection is packed in a box in a storage unit in Canada).
In addition, I love doing puzzles. I come from a puzzling family (in more ways than one!). I married a puzzle loving man and produced puzzle loving offspring. Sitting around the table trying to fit pieces together to create a picture has produced many enjoyable family evenings.
While I was working on the puzzle this week, it often felt as if I was channeling my mother. She would usually have a puzzle in progress at her home, especially in her later years. She and I shared many meaningful conversations around her puzzle board. Doing this puzzle was a little bit like having a visit with my mom, who died four and a half years ago (hard to believe it’s been that long!).
This particular puzzle was more challenging than I expected. There were so many pieces that were white or had similar pink flowers. But I kept working at it, and gradually certain cups would take shape. The more pieces I put in, the more cohesive the picture became, and the more each individual piece made sense.
It occurs to me that writing a novel is like that. It starts with a germ of an idea, a concept of a plot, and characters that are barely born. Those notions start in my head, but like a puzzle, are scattered in a jumble that I work to make sense of. As I continue to write, the characters evolve and take shape, the narrative becomes more cohesive and the plot makes more sense.
My teacup puzzle is complete and it makes me feel good to look at it. My puzzle of a novel is also almost complete, and when I finally send it off next week, I will experience even more of a sense of accomplishment!