Jigsaw Jones: The Musical, and That Thing Called “Writer’s Block”

First off, apologies to my Nation of Readers — I’m looking at you, Liz — for the sporadic posts this summer. But it’s not like I didn’t warn you.

Back about a year ago, I posted about a phone call I’d received from Gary Blackman, co-founder and artistic director of ArtsPower, a touring theater group that puts on musicals for young audiences — oftentimes, school groups — based on popular children’s books.

He told me that they intended to create a musical loosely based on Jigsaw Jones #12: The Case of the Class Clown. I said something pithy like, “Cool,” and that was about it. The sum total of our relationship.

A year passed and I haven’t heard another word about it.

But by coincidence, I came across this stunning announcement the other day.

In brief:

Brimming with music, charm, and humor, ArtsPower’s new production – based on the book by renowned author James Preller – will make audiences laugh and think as they learn the secret codes that Jigsaw must decipher to solve the mystery.

I gather that groups can book a show. And get a load of that word, “renowned,” that’s a first. Maybe now I’ll start getting some respect over at Duncan Donuts.

And weirder still, apparently the show is coming to a town near me, at the Kitty Carlisle Theatre at The Egg in Albany. Tickets for groups of 20 or more cost $7.00 each. Better yet, it’s starring Lisa Ling as Mila! (No, not really.) The truth is, I don’t know a blessed thing about this show. Nada, zilch. I assumed it wasn’t happening.

So what do I do? Buy a ticket, sit in the last row, put a bag over my head . . . and hope? The thought of it gives me heartburn. I know, I know; I’m an idiot. This is fun stuff. I should be giddy. Problem is, I’ve never been real good at giddy.

I’ll work on it.


I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s just a squishy idea I can’t really get behind. When asked about writer’s block in a  Q & A, I made this comment:

I don’t believe in it, frankly. It’s one more of those “mystical” things that writers are supposed to endure. I have a lunch pail attitude to my job, since I don’t have the luxury – in time or money – to sit around waiting for the muse to descend. I’m trying to pay the bills, you know? So I make things up. What I have learned – and what I will concede – is that there are times when the energy fails. (Writing, to me, requires great enthusiasm and energy.) I realized a while back that it was usually a sign that I was boring myself: That the story I was writing, or the specific scene, was flawed somehow. I was on the wrong path – and boring myself to tears. When the writing is right, I am fully engaged. When bored by my own words, I need to walk away and rethink things. Usually it means honing in a little closer to the rumblings of my own heart.

However . . . things change. But what I’ve been experiencing is not the standard understanding of the term, where you are struggling with a plot, unable to solve the puzzle. I mean, that happens, but to call it “writer’s block” seems a little twee to me. Take a walk, get your butt back in the chair, do the work, you know.

But I do think that we — all of us — can become blocked by our own insecurities, angers, frustrations, fears. Stopped cold in our tracks, often by things we don’t fully understand. The problem isn’t the work so much as the person doing the work. The book isn’t the problem; the story is there, mostly, or close enough. The problem is I’m not there, not wholly present. It’s not the block, it’s the writer.

On that note, here’s “Sick of Myself” by Matthew Sweet. I advise you to play it loud.

Boy, I’m a drag today, aren’t I?

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  1. Your entry for today is particularly timely. I am the Student Discovery Series Coordinator with The Grand Opera House in Oshkosh, WI. We are presenting ArtsPower’s adaptation of Jigsaw Jones:The Class Clown in November as part of our education series. First, let me assure you that ArtsPower does a great job… they’ve been part of our Discovery Series every year. Secondly, I am in the midst of writing a brochure for this season’s series, and am suffering from writer’s block (deadline induced)… or possibly I’m just bored with my own words! I found your blog doing a search for Jigsaw Jones information. I’ve been so entertained (loved that anaconda)that I’ve stayed far too long on your site, jeopardizing my job and, well… probably my brochure, as well.
    Thanks for the break!

  2. jimmy says:

    Thanks for writing, Nicki. I guess there’s that Puritan Work Ethic part of me that suspects “writer’s block” is just another way of spelling L-A-Z-Y. Which is maybe why it can be so distressing, since it reflects back poorly on the writer.

    I’d love to see that brochure if it’s not too much trouble.

  3. Liz Szabla says:

    Wow, your name in lights! Albany, and next stop…Manhattan? We could use some good kids’ theater down here. Glad to see you posting again, JP.

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