“Kill your darlings,” they say. But Mrs. Krimble? I was so resistant to the idea. Austin Aslan, my PitchWars mentor was wise to introduce this murderous concept to me only a little bit at a time. “Killing” Mrs. Krimble was a concept I was slow to warm to. But, when I opened the email with my second wave of edits and I was forced to ask myself again if I was willing to strike her from my story, I was surprised by my own enthusiasm. Oh heck yes! The woman has to go.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, my current young adult manuscript had entirely too much adult in it. No, I don’t mean racy-type content! I mean honest-to-goodness grown ups. Austin has been gracious enough to point this out to me before my book got laughed out of every opportunity in its possible future.
So the question I was left asking myself was Why? Why on Earth did I feel it was necessary to include so many adult figures in my novel about, and for, young adults (it was actually laughable when I read through the comments of a chapter where Austin pointed out their EVERY occurrence!)? I have (currently) come up with two working theories: 1. Nostalgia and/or 2. Need.
One of the things I loved about Mrs. Krimble and her presence in the novel was how much it reminded me of the stories I enjoyed when I was younger. Of course, this is ridiculous, because when I actually try to remember an ADULT from one of the stories I enjoyed in my youth I CAN NOT THINK OF ONE. So, perhaps, I should chalk up this one to DELUSION. The fact is Mrs. Krimble didn’t remind me of stories I read when I was younger, she reminded me of the life I had when when I was younger. This leads me to theory #2.
The second theory holds a lot more weight. A lot.
I drafted this story in 2012. At that time in my life I wanted nothing more than an adult to swoop into my life and take over. Since my mom’s passing in 2006 (my dad had passed away long before in 1988), my life had taken a more insane turn for the worse.
I lost numerous health battles and, in turn, my career. My independence was gone — I was physically and financially dependent on others for a number of years. Everything about my life screamed childhood except for the expectations of the society around me. The world saw a thirty-something and expected me to behave that way, meanwhile, I was busy trying to learn how to walk again, how to see, read, and cope. I felt like an infant finding her way into the world, but the bills kept coming, the decisions still had to be made, I still had a husband, and a house, and all the grown up things that came with them. Life kept moving forward. I took baby steps forward, but I was always looking for the missing component: where were the grown ups who would take the lead? Where were the people who knew what to do? I craved their authority. Reading my manuscript now, that is glaringly obvious. If I couldn’t ride out my life trauma under the protection of my grown ups, well, at least I could give that gift to my protagonist.
I do believe we writers write what we need to. Our stories, either directly or indirectly, tackle the issues that plague us individually. This is why fiction resonates with us so deeply — why it makes us empathetic — because as fictional as the tale may be the truth that simmers beneath sings from the author’s soul to the reader’s.
The Ultimate Conclusion
My grown ups aren’t coming back. Living without them forced me into every raw, jagged edge life had to offer. I tripped. I fell. I scraped my knees and my soul. I lived. I became stronger. I redefined who I was.I — gasp! — grew up.
And you know what I realized? I owe all of this to my protagonist and my future readers. Here’s hoping I succeeded.
Now back to my writing…