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Write On! Puzzle Pieces

When we write, we are fitting together words into phrases, concepts, descriptions, meaning. We are creating images and a narrative. Sure, sometimes in poetry or avant-garde prose the images and narrative may be deliberately obscure, hard to figure. Nonetheless, words are like puzzle pieces coming together to create meaning.

We all have potential access to the same puzzle pieces of our language. When we develop a larger vocabulary, we are putting more puzzle pieces into our personal puzzle box.

A physical puzzle starts as a piece of cardboard or thin wood. A photographic image is glued to the surface and then the puzzle is cut into various interlocking shapes with a jigsaw. Hence, jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaws are still used to make custom wooden puzzles, but modern cardboard puzzles are mass-produced using a die cutting press which is a template of sharp metal ribbons that descends onto the puzzle making all of the cuts at once from the top. Then all of the pieces are disconnected and put into a box in a random chaos.

Of course, the fun of doing a puzzle is figuring out how to reconnect all those pieces to create the photographic image shown on the puzzle box lid!

As writers we are doing something quite similar. The image is not on a puzzle box lid. It’s in our imagination, our memory, or generated by real life experience. The puzzle pieces are not made of cardboard or wood, they are made of letter combinations that carry meaning. They are made of words.

While we all have access to the complete collection of words in English, we don’t all gravitate towards using the same words, or putting them together in the same way. Each of us has unique language puzzles to solve. The way we connect our puzzle pieces becomes what writers call our voice, our signature style of writing.

Here’s a fun experiment, and this week’s writing prompt.

As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and as it turns out, the majority of jigsaw puzzles have a thousand pieces! The photo below is one I took years ago. Let’s just say it’s the image on the lid of a puzzle box. See if you can find the thousand words, the thousand puzzle pieces, that connect to tell the story you see in this photo, either as a poem or a short piece of prose. If you can’t come up with a thousand words, any number will do! I’ve chosen this image because it has no obvious narrative but is intriguing.

P.S. The photo at the top of this post is one I took of a particularly elegant piece of bark from a ponderosa pine.

More information about Eve West Bessier at:

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

Eve West Bessier

Eve is a poet laureate emerita of Silver City and Grant County, New Mexico; and of Davis and Yolo County, California. She has served on the steering committee for the Southwest Word Fiesta, and was a presenter during two festivals. Eve is a retired social scientist, voice and life coach. She is a writer, jazz vocalist, photographer and nature enthusiast living in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
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We respectfully acknowledge that the entirety of southwestern New Mexico is the traditional territory, since time immemorial, of the Chis-Nde, also known as the people of the Chiricahua Apache Nation. The Chiricahua Apache Nation is recognized as a sovereign Native Nation by the United States in the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Friendship of 1 July 1852 (10 Stat. 979) (Treaty of Santa Fe ratified 23 March 1853 and proclaimed by President Franklin Pierce 25 March 1853).

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Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University is a traditional academic press that welcomes agented and unagented submissions in the following genres: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, memoir, poetry, children’s books, historical fiction, and academic books. We are particularly interested in academic work and commercial work with a strong social message, including but not limited to works of history, reportage, biography, anthropology, culture, human rights, and the natural world. We will also consider selective works of national and global significance.