Turning A Spark Into Fire (A Metaphor in Cavewomen)

By Natasha Sinel

Cavewoman A bangs two rocks together, and a few tiny orangey-red things fly out. She drops the rocks immediately, scared, says “ugga-bugga,” and runs away.

Cavewoman B comes along, picks up the two rocks, bangs them together, and a few tiny orangey-red things fly out. She holds the rocks up to her face, staring at every crevice, fascinated, says “ugga-wugga,” and then sits down and continues gazing at them. She bangs the rocks together again and again, making sparks, watching them fly and land on the ground. She touches one of the rocks—ouch, hot! What would happen if...she thinks. Then she scrambles up and shuffles in her cavewoman way to a pile of dead branches that had fallen the night before during a ferocious thunderstorm. She thinks about her family and how they’d huddled up in their cave, freezing their caveman butts off in the pitch black, eating shreds of raw mammoth meat.

Now she bangs the rocks together right over the pile of dead branches. The sparks fly and land on the ground, on the branches. Nothing happens. What if...she thinks. She bangs the rocks closer to the branches, and one spark lands on a branch and stays lit up. Tiny and orangey-red. She sits. She watches. What if... She blows on the spark a little to see what will happen. Smoke rises. “Ugga-wugga-wugga!” she shouts in disbelief. She turns to find someone, to show them all, but she’s alone. When she turns back to the branches, the spark has turned into a small oval thing that dances—orange, red, yellow, a bit of blue. She touches it. Ouch—very hot! She holds her hands above the colorful thing, close to it but not touching. It’s warm. The cavewoman’s eyes go wide as the thing spreads slowly over the branches and turns into fire. She rests back on her haunches and smiles. She knows that she has created something—something dangerous, yes, but also useful, life-changing, life-saving, something beautiful.

At one point in my life, I may have been more like Cavewoman A. I’d make the spark and think it was cool, then I’d run away, scared. But I grew up some and realized that a spark can be cool, but it’s nothing if it's not fire. I wanted to be like Cavewoman B, sticking with the spark, studying it, thinking about it, staring at it, being fascinated by it, touching it even when it was too hot. I wanted to join the spark and a pile of branches to see what would happen. I wanted to ask What if... I wanted to make a fire.

Anyone can make a spark. But only a few brave souls will take it to the next level and make a fire.

So I did. It wasn’t easy. It was time-consuming, and it was scary. I worried about things—was it bad, would I finish, would everyone hate it? And I considered running away. But I didn’t. I kept What if-ing that spark until it became fire.

Be Cavewoman B. Turn your spark of an idea into a fiery story. It’s worth it.

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she's still in high school, and hopes that no one near her can read minds. Her debut YA novel THE FIX will be out from Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing September 1, 2015.


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