Growing up, my dad always did his USA Today crosswords in pen.
He is also one of the most intelligent people I know. So, naturally, I decided to start doing USA Today crosswords, in pen. The most astounding discovery I have made so far is that I’m not nearly as intelligent as my dad.
Not even close.
My crosswords are not so much structured vocabulary as scribbles on top of scribbles, to the point where I can’t even discern what word I was trying to write in. At an undefined length of time (usually within a few hours) I give up and look at the answer key in the newspaper the following day. I am usually at least a few days behind on crosswords, so I have that readily available to aid in my attempts to cover up my failed mission of completing the crossword without assistance.
It has gotten better though. Now I write very lightly in pen a word that could potentially work, hoping that it all magically fits together. Only words that I know are absolutely, positively correct are penned in with such an intentional force as to imprint the word on the folded pages behind it. It is one or the other. I also take a few days, instead of a few hours, to complete one puzzle. In this way, I am giving my brain a second chance to demonstrate its hidden brilliance.
I shall keep you updated on my progress. I estimate in just a few decades, I will have the knowledge and skill to successfully complete an entire crossword in pen. Until then, there’s always the answer key.