Puzzle 574: Freestyle 518. I had you going…

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25

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The construction of this grid, for a long time, felt like one big game of Whack-a-Mole. I laid out the central stack, but it seemed like there was always one slot where no entry would work. I would fix that spot so that something would fit there, and it would cause another area not to work. What saved me, what broke that maddening cycle, was the entry at 23-Down. It hadn’t been in my word list; it wasn’t in any online dictionary, though it’s definitely a thing. It just washed over me in what felt like a biblical revelation. If that entry hadn’t worked, I have no idea what I would have done.

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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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