Writing Journey

How To Tell An Author They Suck


You don’t.

Unless you’re their writing coach/ language professor/ English teacher – someone professionally hired – you don’t have the right to tell an author they suck. You might think you do, but you don’t.

“Did someone just tell you you suck?” you ask.

“No. This isn’t a passive-aggressive rant.”

Personally, I’ve not encountered anyone who has told me I ‘suck’. But of late, I’ve noticed a lack of respect for authors. And this disrespect isn’t coming from readers, but from authors themselves.

“What? From fellow authors?”

“Yes. It is unfortunately so.”

It seems it’s now considered kind to tell someone they have no talent. It seems it’s now acceptable to feed one’s pride by trampling over someone else. There is no intention to help, only the goal to hurt and a platform to gloat. And we’re doing it to each other.

Authors are fickle human beings. We oscillate between crippling self-doubt and obnoxious pride. Some of us try our best to stay humble when tempted to boast. But some of us think it’s OK to free the beast and let it wreak havoc. What we often fail to see is that this monstrosity loves to attack the weak. And when targeted at fellow authors, it destroys dreams – it magnifies self-doubt and builds fear. It imposes beliefs and revokes creativity. It tears a soul apart for the sake of building its master. And as a cherry on top of the cake, it burns bridges… forever.

Frankly, this beast isn’t something we should be proud of – it’s not an emotion we should even feed. So from one author to another, can I ask you keep this beast locked inside?

“Well, this beast is quite difficult to cage.”

“I agree.”

Pride is a tricky emotion to handle. But despite it tough to tame, it can evolve… like a Pokemon. If we increase our self-confidence – if we learn to trust in our own capabilities – pride would be a memory of the past.

“But isn’t it the same thing – pride and confidence?”

“No. There’s a difference.”

Those with self-confidence find no need to boast about their accomplishments. They don’t step into a ‘coaching’ role when not asked. And they certainly don’t think they’re better than anyone else. Self-confidence is being aware you aren’t the best, but believing you can be the best you.

Those with pride however, will tell the world of all they’ve done. They’ll see the need to correct someone, and think they’re doing it out of favour. They certainly believe they’re better than many others in terms of skill and talent. And whenever there’s an opportunity, they’ll state it.

“How then do we build self-confidence without crossing the line?”

“We starve pride.”

I know, being humble is easier said than done. I struggle with it too. I want people to know I’ve accomplished something. I want the world to recognise my work. But whenever pride tempts me to gloat, I ignore it. I starve its need to shine. When I read a fellow author’s work, I don’t tell the author what they should do and change. Instead, I encourage them to keep writing. I’m not their editor. I’m not their teacher. I have no right to act as though I am. I also know that when they keep writing, they’ll get better. They’ll improve and find their own voice. And if I’m confident in myself, I won’t be afraid if they outshine me – even if they do, I’ll celebrate.

“But what if I’m just trying to help?”

“There is, of course, a difference between giving constructive criticism and being demeaning.”

To know if you’re feeding your pride, ask yourself this: do I feel ‘clever’?

If your words have the intent to make a fellow author admire you, then it’s pride. Because if you truly want to help someone, there’s no subconscious need to feel important. Your goal is to assist, not to fortify your own strength. But like I said, taming pride is – and will always be – a challenge. The only way to beat it is to make a conscious effort to starve it.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about ourselves. We should learn to love ourselves and be proud of what we’ve accomplished. But let’s not do it at the expense of others. Let’s not destroy hopes and dreams in the process. Let’s learn to be confident in who we are and what we can do, without stepping on someone else.

“So wait, how do I actually tell someone they cannot write?”

“To think we’re better than someone is to forget we started somewhere too.”

Original Works

Black Ghost – Pt. 2

Black Ghost Part 2

The black ghost left me awhile after the quitting of my employee. It did not possess anyone else, and I was starting to believe it was gone for good. I kept telling myself it was all part of my imagination, and I was no longer worried about it returning. But peace was short lived, because something else came up.

It was a hot afternoon when my lawyer came to see me. He had on a plain suit and he carried his typical brown suitcase. When he sat across my table, I knew something was up.

“What’s the problem now?” I asked.

“You’re being sued,” he said.

“Nothing you can’t handle, right?”

“Well, it’s not the typical lawsuit. You’re being charged for plagiarism and work place hostility.”

“Plagiarism? Hostility? What nonsense is this? I run an honest newspaper! Who is pressing these charges?!”

“A group of journalists who previously worked for you,” he replied.

“Those little scums!” I spat.

“Those little scums have a lot against you. They’re hoping to take you down.”

“Well then stop them! You’ve done it before, do it again. I don’t pay you for nothing.”

“I am, but-”

“What do you need? Hurry up and stop wasting my time!” I shot at him. The news set me on edge and I could not believe I was being challenged by a group of amateur journalists.

“I need to talk to some of your employees,” he calmly said.

“Then go do it! Why do you have to act so incompetent? Don’t make me hire someone else,” I threatened.

My lawyer nodded, and as he got up from his seat my worst nightmare returned. It floated up from the floor and trailed behind him as he walked to the door. When my lawyer reached for the handle, the black ghost entered his body.

I was literally glued to my seat as I watched it happen. There was a long moment of silence as I was expecting something bad. Indeed, my expectations were met. My lawyer pulled his hand back and turned to face me.

In a calm and composed manner, he said, “I have worked for you for five years. I have won many of your cases and saved you a lot of money. But after all these years, you still have no respect for me.”

He paused and waited for me to speak. When I said nothing, afraid that the black ghost might attack me through him, he continued, “Mr Trots, I sincerely hope you lose this case. Then, when you have nothing left but yourself, you would know what a horrid person you are. I’m done working for you. Goodbye and have a nice day.”

With that, my lawyer strode out of my office and never came back. The black ghost stayed though and this time I demanded an explanation.

“Why are you doing this?! What do you have against me?! Tell me!” I yelled.

The black ghost did not even turn to face me as it vanished into thin air.

The days following my lawyer’s resignation were the worst. I managed to find a new lawyer, but he was not as good. Though he put up with my demands, he just lacked something my previous lawyer had.

On the day I sat on the stand, I glared, scoffed, and did everything I could to wiggle my way out of it. I actually thought I did a good job, until the final day in court. The lawyers gave their final statements and when the jury got ready to decide on the verdict, I saw the black ghost again. It followed after them as they left the courtroom.

The guards had to hold me down when I attempted to chase after the black ghost. I was yelling and pointing at something nobody could see. And at that point, I knew I was done for.

True enough, the return of the jury was the hour of my destruction. I lost a lot of money and my publication was forced to shut down. I made the headlines of other newspapers and became both a laughing stock and a disappointment. I was no longer rich, powerful and famous, and I had no one.

As I sat in my office for the last time, I yearned for the sound of my machines. But the lack of clangs and thumps made reality sink right in. All I could do was stare at my typewriter. I did that for so long that when I finally looked up, night had arrived. But night was not alone.

Floating on the chair across my table was the black ghost. When I saw it, I stood up and asked, “Are you happy now?”

It stood up with me as I pointed my finger at its smoky face.

“You destroyed me! You are the reason I’ve lost everything! You will pay for this!” I accused as I stared it straight in the eyes.

That was when I noticed something strange. As our eyes locked, the black smoke began to solidify. Its face began to smooth out into skin and a suit materialized on its body. The exact same suit I was wearing.

It took me a few seconds but I soon realized I was pointing at myself. The exact replica of me was standing before me.

My hand began to shake as this clone repeated my words so perfectly, “You destroyed me! You are the reason I’ve lost everything! You will pay for this!”

Only then it all made sense.

I destroyed myself.


The main theme of this two part story is pride. I’m sure some of you might have guessed it already. This story simply portrays how our pride has the power to destroy us, and if we don’t humble ourselves it will eventually be our downfall.

It is very easy to feel high and mighty through our success and talents, but its harder to practice humility. I am not afraid to admit that pride has a way of sneaking up in my life, but in those moments I remind myself that pride won’t do me any good. Hence, I always try to stay humble even though it can be a challenge sometimes.

So if you ever come face to face with pride one day, my advice is to show it the door and usher in humility 🙂

I hope you guys enjoyed this two part story and as always, let me know what you think!

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)