Thursday, March 11, 2010

Putting it together

My older one has always had a flair for jigsaw puzzles. From the time he put together his first three piece puzzle a couple of months before his third birthday, he's consistantly been doing puzzles meant for an older age group. How he puts the puzzles together is a constant mystery to me. He doesn't follow any of the conventional techniques that I am familiar with, and neither does he ever refer to the main picture. He just puts them together.

The younger one couldn't be more different. He started working independently on jigsaw puzzles only a month or two before his fourth birthday, but made up for lost time by rapidly advancing in the level of complexity. Yesterday, I saw him working on a 24 piece puzzle. He constantly referred to the picture, and kept at it dilligently till the it was done. After celebrating, he took it apart piece by piece and put it together, then did it again, and again. By today morning, he was doing that particular puzzle much faster than I remember his brother doing at the same age.

Two kids. Same activity. Two radically different approaches. Same result.

No, this is not a thesis on which of the two is the better approach, it is merely my musings on how there are multiple ways of approaching the same thing. Music can have the rigour of a classical piece or the spontanity of jazz. A painter can have the attention to detail of a Michealngelo or indicate form like a Monet. A writer can go into excruciating detail, or indicate things and leave the rest to the imagination of the reader.

It was Ann's post on Action in the white space that got me thinking about various ways to approach the same thing. As a listener/ viewer/ reader, which do I prefer? I think the answer to that question depends on how I am feeling at a particular point of time.

I am not fussy. There are times when I want the details. There I times when I want white space. The only thing I am consitant about wanting is quality. What about you?
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starry eyed said...

Can relate! My son started doing puzzles at 3.75, whereas daughter was puzzling them easily at 3. But he's caught up to 24 pieces too. It's amazing how different they can be, it freaks me out usually, but have learned to let them develop in their own time.

Cruella Collett said...

Fascinating - this really explains well one of the major challenges of mass education, doesn't it? Kids have different approaches to learning, while the school rarely has the opportunity to specialize towards them all. Glad there are parents (like you) aware of this, though, and thus much more capable of following up their kids individually.

I agree with you on quality above specific styles in literature/music/etc. It would be almost impossible for me to list favourite approaches because they are so different I am often not able to compare them. The more the merrier!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

We can apply that to our writing as well! I'm an outliner and I hand write my story before entering it into the computer. Doesn't work for a lot of people, but it works for me!

Ann Elle Altman said...

Oh, oh, oh, can I make a comment! No, you say, I've had my chance... oh. Well, I think you're right! In no way was I trying to state that we shouldn't answer the most important questions but a few of them would be okay...only if you want. That's the great thing about being a writer, we create. I love it! Love your post too.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Starry - so true. Each kid is different, and the one thing we should not do as parents is to compare. It was easier for me to accept it because my second one started off as a physical clone of his brother, but one with a mind of his own. My mom had only one child, and she keeps comparing.

@ Mari - absolutely. Though mass education is now evolving. In my son's school, for instance, they are taught four of five ways to add and subtract, which confuses the kids completely now (because just when they start mastering one technique, they are taught another), but is good in the long term, because each kid can pick the way that (s)he is most comfortable with.

@ Diane - and believe it or not, I am both. In my business writing, I have to outline completely and can't start writing till the structure is in place. But in creative writing, I write the end first, then let the rest of it just flow!

@ Ann - you can make dozens of comments, my dear, because you haven't had your say yet. You merely set me thinking!
I understand totally what you were getting at - in my own writing, I am a staunch believer in white space (and thank you for introducing me to the term), and those are the books I like best. BUT, when I thought about it later at night, I realised that I also like a lot of books that are heavily embroidered. As long as the book is "good", I don't think it matters too much what style it is in- it always finds its own readers.


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