Hello. My name is Kay, and I am a puzzleholic.
It’s been 2 days since my last confession, er, post. I spent most of that time on this puzzle site methodically solving puzzle after puzzle. I think I have made it through around fifty so far, and I cannot stop myself. I am a completionist that way. With over 700 available puzzles on that site alone, this could very well absorb the rest of my summer.
I also cannot resist Sudoku. When I see a grid, I must grab a pencil. I’ve actually taken a newspaper out of a public trash can because I could see the puzzle section had not been touched. Before I go to bed each night, I grab a book of number puzzles. I find that the litany of digits (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, night) clears my head and resets my brain waves, making it easier to fall asleep.
Did you know that Sudoku was invented in my lifetime? Same thing for the Nonogram, another name for that “picture logic” puzzle I linked to above, also known as Picross. For that matter, so was the Rubik’s Cube. I’ve lived in a golden age of logic puzzles since I left college.
I even got in trouble at one of my earliest jobs for working on a crossword puzzle at my desk. I claimed it was a way to clear my head, but really it was an escape from a project which required creative thinking. I much prefer working with existing data, finding flaws and fixing them, rather than creating something from scratch. I’m a problem-solver, not an innovator. In my early career, this was an asset, allowing me to excel at debugging software code, until I had fixed everything there was to fix. Then the boss assigned me to write a new program, and my mind froze.
People ask me why I don’t create my own puzzles. I’ve tried, believe me, but the skills required to generate a crossword puzzle grid are not really the same as those used to solve one. People who solve a lot of puzzles are very picky about the quality. Even I can spot the flaws in amateur grids, but I don’t know how to improve them.
Writing a novel puts me in the same limbo. My mind simply does not generate new story ideas. I would love to be an editor, proof-reading someone else’s work, giving other authors feedback. I just haven’t found my way into that line of work.
In the meantime, my skill set for debugging software dwindles as the coding languages have changed over the years. I look for work like data entry or inventory, tasks which still require the attention to detail and accuracy that is a part of who I am, but will not challenge me to invent new ideas. And I continue to solve puzzles. Perhaps someone will invent another new puzzle form in my lifetime, in time to distract me in my next job.