/ Articles

Get your free email address:  you@dowse.com

Back to



E. L. Noel is the author of THE THRESHING FLOOR, a medieval novel about a knight during the crusades. THE THRESHING FLOOR is available at CrossroadsPub.com. She has also written a science fiction novel, THE L'AROBI FRAME -- coming out soon from CrossroadsPub.com -- as well as many short stories and articles which have been published in print and electronic formats.

E.L Noel was nice enough to give us this humorous article, which I think many writers will be able to relate to. Mitigating Circumstances was first published in Inscriptions Magazine.

Mitigating Circumstances
E.L Noel

I killed my husband. Oh, sure, I take full responsibility for my actions, though he should have known better than to say what he did. I bludgeoned him to death with a rejected manuscript. It's not something I'm proud of. After all, he was a good guy. I may have even loved him. I stood up in the courtroom and admitted it, the whole grizzly thing from beginning to end.

It went something like this, to the best of my recollection.

We bought our first word processor 10 years ago, and the event was met with much oohing and ahhhing as we pulled it from its cardboard home and proudly placed it in the center of the desk. This piece of equipment held our future in its sleek keyboard and tiny screen, and was our foolproof ticket to a spot on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." This collaboration of plastic, glass, computer chips and components promised to make us rich beyond our wildest dreams, and we dreamed big in those days.

No sooner did we have it plugged in than I sat down to write the Great American Novel. The words rushed across the miniature screen in bright, angular bits of green light and filled page after page with my masterpiece. Life was beautiful and full. The days were bright and sunny, and the nights warm and comfortable. I smiled a lot. Birds sang. Dogs wagged their tails when they saw me coming, because I was, after all, the next Hemingway or Steinbeck or Twain. I knew it, and all of nature knew it, too.

The day my first rejection arrived, I was shattered and cried rivers of salty, straight-from-the-heart tears. What idiot would have turned down 800 pages of rich, powerful prose, so eloquently written and single-spaced? My husband, bless his heart, comforted me and cooked dinner. But as the days passed, I became more and more convinced that the publisher might have had a point, if not several. And there began my downward spiral.

I turned to books. How-to books cluttered our table, filled the desktop and conformed to the shape of my hand against their spines. I read them all, studied them repeatedly and committed each word to memory. I learned how to "show" rather than "tell." I shunned passive voice in favor of active. Character motivation became my new talisman. And word pictures filled my mind night and day. I scribbled on napkins, kept a flashlight on the nightstand beside my bed to scrawl unintelligible bits in the wee hours. I mapped out plot lines like the topography in an Atlas. I knew where I was going.

I started over with a brand new story, one untainted by the shame of rejection. I labored over each word, sweated blood over every transition, tenderly created each character, then revised and polished until the manuscript shone. Weeks turned into months that soon became years until finally there was nothing left for me to do. I had reached my destination. The manuscript was finished.

It is along in here somewhere that my memory becomes hazy. It isn't a cop-out, like so many claim, though I can easily see how it might look that way. I sent the manuscript out for consideration, and I followed all the guidelines, never misspelled an agent's or editor's name, and always included a SASE in every submission. I used high-quality paper, sent precisely what they requested and never pestered them with phone calls. I did things RIGHT this time.

All I had left to do was wait, and after all that hard work I needed a break. Or so I mistakenly thought. The hours were suddenly empty, and the days waxed long and hard. My mailbox took on the look of a predator, salivating jaws that waited to gobble my acceptance letter. I rarely left the phone unattended: to do so would have guaranteed a coveted call from my editor of choice. Still, I managed to maintain my emotional balance for a few more days, though my nerves began to frazzle within two weeks. I'm clear on that. It was two weeks. The nail biting started sometime in the third, and the irrational behavior started shortly after, but I don't remember the exact date. I told the judge the same thing, about the dates I mean, and he glared at me over the top of his glasses like I had something to hide. Guess who the bad guy's going to be in my next bestseller?

My sentence is life without the possibility of parole, and I've settled into my new environment nicely. The cell is small, but I'm allowed paper, and I've used a small portion of my first royalty check to buy a computer. It should arrive tomorrow. That's really all I need. Word pictures are piling up in my head and it's hard to sleep. I miss the glare of the screen, the feel of the keyboard beneath my bloodstained fingers, the odor of psychic smoke when I'm on fire and typing a good story.

Oh, you might ask what my husband said to cause such a violent response from me. He said, "No, you're not going to Maui!" How's that for a reckless answer? As any number of my fellow authors will tell you, he should have known better. And the rest of the story, as they say, is in the court record.


Read THE ROCK HOUND by E.L Noel.

Read a dowse interview with E.L Noel.

Back to Articles Contents Page

Search the web




Dowse Fiction Hub
Dowse Science Fiction and Fantasy Hub
Dowse home - Web Gateway for Creative Minds


We hope you have enjoyed this page. Please go back to the Fiction Hub Contents to read another story or for more information. We believe you will also find that the Dowse Science Fiction Hub has much of interest.


Computing & Internet
Fantasy art
Myths & Legends
News & Info
Science Fiction
Security online
Web Makers Tools
Writing & Publishing

. How to make
  your start page
. Your free email
. Message Bds
   & communities

. Suggest links
. Link to us

. About dowse
. Search the web


Copyright © 2001 dowse.com
all rights reserved


Dowse Articles