When Good Things Happen to Bad People: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Writers! They are some of the nicest people! They really are! Even the rejected ones! (For reals! For every DEAR MORON I HAVE WRITTEN THE NEXT STEPHANY MEIERS BESTSELLER FICTION NOVEL YOU WILL BE SORRY YOU SAID NO there are ten people who thank us effusively for the smallest of personalizations in their rejections!) We cannot tell you how many times authors whose work we love turned out to be the kindest, most gracious souls, who politely pretended not to notice our profound awkwardness as we stammered out something inane like, "OH UM YOUR UM FICTION NOVEL? IT MEANT A LOT TO ME". The Rejectionist LOVES WRITERS YES SHE DOES.

HOWEVER. Author-friends, we know this and you know this: sometimes the person who achieves great success is not the person who deserves it. Now we are not talking here about your boon companion who observes you accumulating thousands of form rejections whilst toiling diligently at your craft for decades, says to you "How hard can it be to write a book?", vomits up a "novel" overnight, pens the dumbest query letter in the history of the known universe, sends a mass email to fifty agents, and signs with your dream agent the next day. Because ultimately that person is your friend, and once you are done tearing out your own heart with a spoon you will be happy for him or her.

No, today we wish to discuss the cretin of all cretins, the foulest of asshats: the person who is not only talentless but LOATHSOME. Maybe it is that jerkwad from your critique group who says useless, mean things about everyone else's work while his own stories are thirty-page expository accounts of his erotic escapades! Maybe, for the agents among our readership, and this hypothetical situation is not what inspired this item or anything, maybe that person is THE MOST AWFUL OF ALL IMAGINABLE FORMER CLIENTS, that deranged wretch who blamed you for her miserable love life, sent crazed emails to every editor at the Big Six accusing you of sabotaging her career, made mean-spirited personal statements about your assistant, who is stylish AND clever, thank you very much, and also refuses to acknowledge the books she writes "[make] Mickey Spillane look like Dostoyevsky"*! Author-friends, when THAT person achieves success, it is verily a thousand flaming knives in the breast of every noble soul among us! When THAT person signs a seven-figure deal with film rights optioned by James Cameron, IT IS ONLY RIGHT TO BURN WITH A JUST AND MIGHTY RAGE. So here is a little friendly advice from someone who has suffered many slings and arrows of outrageous douchebaggery,** dear ones! In short: here, beloved Author-friends, is how to execute your retribution.


1. Patience! A hasty vengeance may be satisfying in the short-term, but the masterful avenging angel knows to lie in wait for the most opportune moment. The universe rewards the faithful, dear ones! It may be tempting now to send an email to this person's editor, saying, "You DO realize X has NO FUCKING TALENT, DON'T YOU?" but that is not a long-term strategy, and only makes you look silly. Remember the spider, who lies quietly in her web until it is the right time to dart forth and imprison her prey! Observe the mantis, who achieves her goal before EATING THAT MOTHERFUCKER'S HEAD!

1a. One must also be crafty! One does no benefit to the universe if one damages one's own reputation in the pursuit of noble sabotage! A little malice goes a long way; one needn't shout to get one's point across. One strategy: amass a small arsenal of embarrassing facts about your target. If you don't know any, make some up. When someone mentions his/her success at, say, a cocktail party, agree enthusiastically how wonderful it is, and then say, "Such a shame he left that prestigious tenure-track professorship under such indelicate circumstances, isn't it? Oh, you didn't know? I thought everyone knew about that."

2. Learn from your betters. Want to watch the high priest/esses of ruthless subterfuge in action? Smuggle yourself into a publishing party a couple of hours after the drinks start circulating. Genuinely evil people have much to teach you, and always have the better weapons. ("Mordor is the place to be for that sort of thing," points out our Support Team, who assisted with this article.)

3. Whosoever saith to turn the other cheek has never tasted the sweet nectar of revenge. Anyway, we all know how that worked out for Jesus. Not so great.

4. Cultivate a reputation as something of a "loose cannon" before such painful situations even arise. You can get away with a lot more when people already think you're scary.

5. Remember, no matter what: YOU ARE MORE TALENTED. ALSO CUTER. The truth will out.

6. Be nice most of the time. That way, when you aren't nice, people will take you more seriously.

7. No matter how heinous this person may be, going after pets and family members is just plain tacky. Stick to the task at hand.

*Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand, if you were wondering. (Mickey Spillane on himself: "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar... If the public likes you, you're good.")

**We thought we knew the face of darkness. AND THEN WE STARTED WORKING AS AN ASSISTANT.