For the remainder of 2020, I’m not going to submit any solo puzzles to the New York Times. Any grids they receive from me will be collaborative efforts with folks from groups that have been historically underrepresented in that puzzle.
Getting published in the most popular puzzle in the world is a zero sum game. And as someone who’s benefited from a variety of systemic and structural legs up, it feels like it’s past time to pay it forward.
To this point in 2020, I’ve co-submitted puzzles to various publications with 14 different women and people of color. Nine of them are previously unpublished constructors whom I’ve done my best to mentor. But those puzzles are, in a real sense, competing with puzzles that I construct and submit alone. At the end of 2020, I’ll revisit and potentially extend this commitment.
I’m also going to start using this site–once a month–to elevate the work of folks who come from those underrepresented groups. Some of these puzzles will be collaborative efforts from people I’ve mentored, and others will be their solo work that I’ll collaboratively edit with them.
The first such puzzle is a themeless grid by Amanda Rafkin. She reached out to me via Instagram a year ago for some constructing mentorship. In the last 11 months–her first full year making grids(!!!)–she’s sold puzzles to the NYT, WSJ, LA Times, Universal, AVCX, Inkubator, etc. Mark my words: In 10 years crossworld will be putting her name near the top of any “best themeless constructor” or “best clue writer” lists.
*SPOILER ALERT* Here’s Amanda:
“I built this grid around 25-Across because I couldn’t recall ever having seen it in a crossword puzzle before, and it struck me as something important to have represented. I hope this puzzle provides a welcome distraction to whomever may need it in these bizarre and unprecedented times. Happy solving and happy Sunday (if days even still exist)!”