Running towards the Sparks

Here I am, deep into the fires of  …. REVISIONS.

Although last week I was somewhat confused, agitated, and anxious, I have since started writing and I’m now looking forward to the deeply cathartic, deeply grounding experience that is the rewrite of this beautiful book. The momentum is high.

Everything I do, everything I think feels like it’s connected to my writing now. Every good conversation I have, every refreshing moment feels linked to my character in some cosmic way. My editor is training me to think about the book in a different way, and encouraging to write in scenes instead of just telling the audience everything. Here lies the transition  from journal to memoir.

Her further advice was to write short stories! Write scenes that don’t need to be in the book. There might be a word, a phrase, or a visual that might be valuable to me later. Write, submit. Write, submit. Don’t worry about the acceptance letters! Write, write, and write more while I’m waiting.

Lei and I had our first Sparks meeting last night. Although I’ve been a Girl Guide leader for ten years, I’m backing up the train from the 11 year olds to the rowdy, hyper 5 and 6 year olds. They’re sweet, they love to sing, have no attention span, and since I’ve got one at home (Leila), I know exactly what they like, or so I thought. Painting and getting messy, here we come.How difficult can fifteen 5 year olds be?

We headed into it. The other two leaders led the “Sparks, Sparks” song but forgot the words in the middle. Not good.

My first activity didn’t go that well either, so it was a bit of a learning curve. Since I’m used to teaching adults, most of them understand at least basic instruction. One of the most common “get to know you” games  that I play with my international students is the one where you get together with a partner, you ask them their name, and conduct a short interview. Then you introduce them to the class, everyone listens and is quiet, and it’s a bonding thing.

I told the girls to do the same, except changed it to two things they like and one thing they don’t like. Easy. Then I told them that they had to find a partner that they had never let before. Instant worrisome looks. We’re talking major five year old anxiety disorders here. But they shuffled around, and find someone to talk to. The next challenge was to get up the courage to talk to their partner. By then they couldn’t remember what the question was.

Wow. This wasn’t going well. We scale back. One thing you like, and one thing you don’t like. The most valuable skill that I possess as a teacher is the quick skill of recognizing when I’m heading for disaster, and immediately redirecting. It happens all the time with my ESL students, because they always need more instruction, clearer directions, have questions, or don’t understand complex tasks with too many steps.

We bring them back to the circle. Barely any girls could remember their partner’s name, or what they liked. Name game is an official failure. We decide to just have them volunteer information. You like pumpkins? Yeah, me too. And no one likes spinach. Agreed.


  1. XOXOXO, who would of thought a little sparks leader 😉 I join you in the ranks of the american version daisy leader 😉
    I love reading your writing, makes me miss you terribly, wish there were less miles and less years between us now.

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