I made MANDELA in the space of a single day – Friday, January 24th, 2020. I completed the puzzle itself in the early afternoon, and then stayed up working on it until 2:00 AM fleshing out the clues and formatting the thing. Surprisingly, there are no good tools for making crosswords that don’t obligate you to pay, publish on their service, or simply provide a list of words to arrange, rather than create it manually. I thought I found one, but it turned out to be so incredibly feature-packed that you were more guiding the program through making its own crossword. I ended up making the final version in Microsoft Office.
I don’t know what inspired me to make a crossword. I remember having an idea for a different crossword a week or two prior, but I wasn’t planning on following through, much less succeeding in making any.
Sadly, I didn’t realize when making MANDELA that rotational symmetry is a convention in crossword design. When I found that out, my hopes of selling it to a local newspaper or some such were dashed. Then again, I knew at some level that two-letter answers aren’t supposed to be a thing, so maybe I never really had much hope to begin with.
I’m hoping to one day remake MANDELA to rigorous crossword standards, and attempt to submit it to a newspaper or puzzle book or some such. That’d be an awesome life experience!
Anyway, here’s the puzzle. Solutions and various developmental files available on request!
Shoutout to this (admittedly low-brow) YouTube video for inspiration: https://youtu.be/b7pournaVHE