What’s in a name?


Like many children of the 1980s, I grew up playing Nintendo. I started out with a small stack of mother-approved game cartridges that included Excitebike, Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, and Tetris. If left to my own devices, I'd spend hours parked in front of the TV until inevitably, my mother would appear and shoo me outside.

I was particularly drawn to Tetris and its hypnoptic 8-bit music. If you're not familiar with the game (or one of the myriad iterations it's spawned), Tetris is a puzzle game operating on a 2D plane in which a random sequence of Tetriminos (tiles composed of four square blocks) falls from the sky. These tiles can be rotated so that they fit together, allowing you to create a solid line of blocks without any gaps. The solid lines of blocks then disappear, giving you more room to work. The more lines you're able to clear at once, the more points you're able to obtain. As each level progresses, the tiles fall faster and faster, making it more difficult to organize and far easier to fail. Once your stack of tiles hits the top of the screen, your game is over.

Even as a child, I was good at Tetris. I was able to watch the entire screen, note the shape of the tile slated to fall next, and plan for its entry into my assemblage. I optimized line clearing, setting up entire blocks that could only be cleared with the highly-sought after "I" tile of a quick, last-minute rotation of a "J" or "L" tile. When I'd eventually become confounded by blocks that fell so quickly as to be impossible to rotate without a fast-twitch tremor, I'd calmly push the power button and restart the game. I relished putting everything into the space where it'd best fit.

I still play Tetris every once in a while, and I still play well enough that my gamer husband is suitably impressed by my skill. I like to think that my ability to patiently clear blocks has wide-ranging applications, both in writing and in editing. I curate work in much the same way as I arrange my Tetriminos: thoughtfully and efficiently, and with a keen mindfulness toward effective organization. My goal is to help others clear their own blocks and maximize their creative potential.