It’s that time of year again. Snow is flying, seed catalogs are arriving, and I get the itch. The itch for jigsaw puzzles.

My latest one is from sister-in-law Kate. The picture is my progress through this weekend, when I hit the wall.

You know that wall? When all the edge pieces and distinctive middle designs are done and all that’s left is filling in the in-between? It’s like when you’re writing a draft and you’ve put in all the major plot points, lyrical description bits, and the witty dialogue you thought up in the shower. How do you slog through the rest?

So now I’ll be taking all those solid black wine bottle pieces and brown wood background pieces and trying every piece, one after the other, until I find the perfect fit. And that’s why great writing is so hard and takes so long: each piece has that one location where it has the most impact. And once we get the framework and flashy middle set up, it’s butt-in-chair to find the perfect fit for the rest.

Do you have any tips for filling in the puzzle?

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