With final preparations for tomorrow’s Sloggers & Betters to sort out, I still wanted to begin work on a new puzzle today. It turned out to be more evidence that the setting process is beginning to speed up.
First there was a final read-through of the S&B prize crossword – you can go through the clues 20 times and still miss a typo – before printing off 35 copies. Then a print-off of the name badges, followed by cutting them out and slotting them all into place. And I still fancied the idea of at least getting started on my next FT effort. That began at 11am– at 5pm I sent it off, all done and dusted.
About a year or so ago I’d have said that was pretty amazing, because 2-3 days is what has always been fairly typical for me. And this puzzle wasn’t even a plain one (obviously I can give nothing away about it), so I needed enough time to think of the concept, then fill the grid, then write the clues.
It hasn’t felt in any way rushed; quite leisurely in fact, and I even discovered some smiley clues along the way. At the end of it, my brain doesn’t hurt and I feel relaxed enough to maybe boot up the PS3, launch Burnout Paradise and have a bit of a communal thrash around Paradise City. Or, if not, just go into Home and enjoy a session of bowling – I’m anaximperator, by the way, if any of you have the PS3 urge; I promise not to bombard you with lols, yays and wtfs.
In ‘going pro’ I once feared that the pressure of deadlines would railroad me into not giving clues the attention they deserve, but that isn’t happening. All of the fun is still there, all the enjoyment of finding new linguistic oddities to play around with, and it certainly feels like ideas are flowing. Gone – it seems, anyway – are the old days of needing to take a few hours’ break when hitting the wall of the last handful of awkward. I now find that one day’s work is normal for a puzzle; two if there a couple of real testers; three if something goes seriously wrong and some re-building is needed.
Please let it carry on like this!