Another week, another Sunday. I’d swear the days are dragging, yet blink! and here we are again. I hope you’re still keeping safe and well as we inch toward the new normal, whatever that may be.
An unexpected upside of the current crisis has been a surge in demand for various niche businesses. Amid the general gloom and depression, it’s been lovely to see artisanal flour producers, needlepoint tutors, hen-keepers and the like enjoy an unexpected moment in the sunlight.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before that I’m a huge jigsaw puzzle fan. Jigsaws are traditionally regarded as a staid older-person’s form of distraction, but apparently in these stressful days of lockdown confinement they have seen a huge resurgence. Yay! Long may it last!
I always have a jigsaw on the go when I’m plotting a book. When I get stuck trying to figure out character arcs, world-building, turning points and plot holes, I take a time out with the puzzle and the challenge of identifying colors, patterns, and shapes seems to re-set my brain. According to the interwebs, this is because jigsaw puzzles
- Exercise both the left and right sides of the brain at once;
- Improve short-term memory;
- Improve visual-spatial reasoning; and
- Function as an effective meditation tool and stress reliever.
A couple of months ago, when it first looked as though we might be facing a period of confinement, I did some panic-buying. In addition to stocking up on rice, pasta, canned goods, TP and long-life milk, I placed an industrial order with my online jigsaw supplier. So I have a colourful stash of landscapes, birds, animals, photography, whimsy, and elaborate mermaid/unicorn/steampunk fantasy artwork (see photo above).
I’m glad I stocked up. Apparently now there’s a global shortage of puzzles, and this fascinating article in the New York Times explains why manufacturers can’t simply scale up production to meet the extra demand. A new puzzle takes weeks to create. There’s a skill to selecting the right image (a beautiful picture doesn’t necessarily make a good puzzle), and then a highly technical design and manufacturing process is required to make sure that every piece of a puzzle is unique, that the design is faithfully reproduced, that the cardboard pieces are robust and that they fit cleanly together.
I never thought about any of that before. The article has given me a new appreciation for the work that goes into creating the puzzles that bring me so much pleasure.
Last week I started work on the opening scenes of my next Elan Intrigues book, called The Seeds of Destiny. I also cracked open a new puzzle, complete with elves, castles, dragons, and lots of magical swooshes and sparkles.
Are you perfecting or discovering some retro amusement or skill? If not jigsaws, maybe quilting or artisanal baking, or gardening? Is it helping? Would you recommend it?