999 Pieces


Ever been window shopping in the mall one weekend with the family, when you're young son or daughter spots one of those stands that sells puzzles. Immediately its "Mommy...Daddy...let's do a puzzle!" You think, what a fun family activity to do together, so you tell him/her to pick one out. After a few moments they come back with one that's a thousand pieces, black and white, with a picture of stampeding horses. You try desperately into talking them into the 250 piece puzzle of snow white or a power ranger, but their hearts are set.  Stampeding horses it is, all 1000 pieces of it.

So you take it home, set up the card table, microwave some pop corn and pour some lemonade, and you're ready to go.  Your son/daughter pours out the pieces and they're assigned the task of turning all the pieces over so they face up, which they do willingly with a tip of their tongue protruding from the mouth.  Once that is accomplished everyone knows what comes next...find the edges. Almost an hour later you've found all the edges, but the popcorn and lemonade is gone, and so is the rest of your family.

But you can't walk away, because this is where you demonstrate to your children that you finish what you start. So hour after torturous hour passes until you've put all the pieces in the correct position. All 999 of them.

Yep, there's one piece missing. I think puzzle makers do this on purpose to get you to buy another whole puzzle just to complete the first one.  Who wants to work that hard on such an arduous task, only to leave it unfinished. Because no matter how pretty the puzzle picture might be, the only thing anybody ever see's is the missing 1000th piece.

What's your point, you ask? My point is that in some ways every aspiring writer is an assembled puzzle missing the 1000th piece.  All our real friends, family, and acquaintances ever see is what we don't have, not what we've accomplished. You've not finished a book yet...you don't have an agent...you don't have a published book...you don't have multiple published books. But here in the blogosphere, especially with the Alex J. Cavanaugh's IWSG, we see things differently. We focus on the other 999 pieces and celebrate those just as equally as the 1000th.

If you haven't voted in Round 1 of WRiTE CLUB, you can do that here, and don't forget that Round 2 goes up tomorrow! :) 

47 comments

  1. Fabulous post, and so true! It's a good thing the blogosphere exists, so we can be amongst others who know the challenges of being a writer!

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  2. That is the perfect analogy. I just bought a few puzzles last week. Now, I'm afraid to do them. Lol

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  3. This has happened to me several times. You're absolutely right--there's always one more thing (or many), but it's all about how you frame it.

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  4. Love this and it's exactly what I need. Thanks DL.

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  5. It reminds me vaguely of trying to make flat pack furniture with my mother.

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  6. Great analogy - everyone always gets so het up about the missing piece, not what's left. Human nature I suppose but hooray for us writers on blogs...we know what to focus on!

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  7. That hit a nerve with me. I always used to apologise for not having a novel... even now I'm 'apologising' for the fact my novella is a digital-only version and not print. It's still a book, and it's still published! And you're right - bloggers have made me feel perfectly welcome into the club, in spite of that :-)

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  8. This is so true! I'm so thankful for a blogging community that looks at the 99 pieces

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  9. Ah, this is so true. I am trying so hard to finish my book with everything else going on, but always feel like I'm okay when I'm here. The trick is to not let the blogging community become so much of a security blanket that we never get the job done :)

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  10. Great post! I seem to be focusing on the 1000th piece myself here lately - what I haven't accomplished compared to what I have. This is a great reminder to celebrate all the parts that go into writing!

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  12. Persistence is definitely a virtue when it comes to writing novels!

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  13. Great post, DL. I have been focusing too long on the missing piece. Well said. Heather

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  14. I love this. We are all puzzles waiting to be finished. But while we're searching for that last piece, we can appreciate how awesome the rest of the picture looks. Thanks for this reminder... it's exactly what I need to get me through August NaNo!

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  15. This is so well said. What an amazing post. I agree, this is such an amazing group.

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  16. Haha...this totally gave me visuals...and droopy eyes from staying up late finishing a puzzle.

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  17. Oh, wow. This is SO true! Thank heavens for all the blogging friends who know and recognize how hard all those 999 pieces are to get into place.

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  18. Wonderful words, DL. Thanks!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  19. Amen! Love this and so true. So thankful we all have each other to cheer us on. :-)

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  20. So many good memories! My parents did puzzles with us and we did them with our kids. Perseverance is really the key isn't it? :)

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  21. Another great post D-Bone! Wonderful analogy.

    And I celebrate your 999 pieces, my friend!

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  22. Awesome post, Don! You're right. That is the point of having great, supportive writer-friends. We can celebrate how far we've come and take each others' minds off whatever that missing piece is. :o) ((hugs))

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  23. Beautiful! I really needed to hear this. I sometimes forget to focus on the 999 pieces while only focusing on the 1000th. Thanks from a fellow IWSG member! :D

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  24. Great post. I never thought about serving snacks for puzzle night/week (we do the 5K variety) - I might just do that today. I'm always the last one at the puzzle table (yes, we have a puzzle table). It's my compulsive need to finish that keeps me there (which is also what keeps me writing). And I'm the only one that has a need to do the edges first (which is also how I approach writing a novel).

    Sucks that your people see the missing piece. You should definitely celebrate the other 999.

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  25. Awesome post! I've never looked at it like that! Thank you :)

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  26. Great post! And you're right--every piece that finds its place is a cause for celebration, even if the puzzle doesn't find its way into a frame.

    J.W.

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  27. What a great post! 999 out of 1000 is pretty darn awesome. Thanks for the reminder to be happy for each piece as it finds it's place.

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  28. My blood pressure is rising just picturing the puzzle scenario. Love your analogy though.

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  29. I solve this problem by shelaquing the thing and hanging it on the wall. People might see the missing piece, but they never mention it. That wouldn't be polite. :) Better yet, pull out another few pieces, paint the remaining spaces red and call it modern art.

    No one's ever commented to me about the "missing" piece of being an author, probably because they know I wouldn't care.

    Lauren Ritz
    Lauren-ritz.blogspot.com

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  30. Aww, such a great way to look at it. Such a great analogy, although I'd hate to get a 1000-piece puzzle with only 999 pieces.

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  31. And that's why they ask ridiculous questions like "why don't you write a few short stories and get them published in magazines while you're busy sending query letters for your novel?"
    Argh!!
    I like puzzles, though. Apparently Ravensburger has one with 32,000 pieces!

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  32. Great analogy! And yes, you're so right. I think I might be guilty of that one myself, though.

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  33. I really love this post. Great metaphor!

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  34. Great message!! I waited so long to get published and brag a little on it...then quickly had the glow replaced with the nagging question...so how many did you sell? Ugh. The insecurity will never stop...unless I learn to just be proud of me and forget what the world thinks!

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  35. Heck with that last piece! Dog probably ate it anyway.
    That's why this community is so awesome.

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  36. Love this message! The writing community rocks!!!

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  37. How true! I love this writing community. I don't know where I would be without it.

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  38. Eloquently stated, DL. I came here tonight in longing and impatience for the next WRiTE Club bout and was not let down!

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  39. Great post ;D Yes, this is what writers see the potential. Then we will write where did the missing piece end up? WE could write a lot about that ;D

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  40. Excellent analogy. I'm feeling like I'm missing pieces myself.

    Ugh, I forgot about write club. Sorry.

    .......dhole

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  41. I found a puzzle in a cocktail bar the other night, and instantly set upon it with determination, the missing pieces didn't matter, neither did finishing it really, it was the hilarious fun we had trying to match them all up :D

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  42. I have spent many hours with my parents, still do trying to finish jigsaw puzzles, big family pass time! Great post, lots to think about.

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  43. We always need to look at the positive rather than focus on that one negative.

    And we love putting together puzzles. Our yearly New Year's Even tradition is watching Bowl Games while putting together a puzzle. My husband has more patience than I do though.

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  44. Oh I really like that. You've created a wonderful picture.

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  45. Hooray for IWSG! And so far, my puzzles have had all the pieces. After reading this post, I now consider myself extremely fortunate. :-)

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  46. What a fabulous analogy! In our house, we usually knew what became of the last puzzle piece... one of our sons would hide it, so he'd have the honor of putting that last piece into place. He's also the same son who once "solved" a Rubik's cube by removing all the stickers and putting them back on again.

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  47. Well said! I'd rather focus on the 999 any day. :)

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