A lively discussion in a writers' group on LinkedIn made me think about the pros and cons of writers reviewing writers.
Now I have disturbed the bees and must accept it if I get stung.
When I was just a reader, I judged books differently than when I became a writer. I now approach review and criticism with new eyes and new considerations.
Before and after, I am the same person and have the same likes and dislikes, but as a writer myself, I am more aware of the person who wrote the book, and since I don’t see other authors as competitors (some, to my surprise, say they do), I am not sure if my verdicts are not also tinted by our kinship. At the very least, my critique seeks to be gentler, even when the writing isn’t to my liking.
Of course, I still outright reject books I find an affront to literature. This by no means includes some fractured use of language, which a master scribe is entitled to as much as a painter can play with form and colors once he has proven mastery of his craft. To use another parallel, I will never leave the theater or a movie without seeing the work to the end, no matter how painful staying through may be.
This is particularly true now, when I have started reviewing books of authors participating with me in various forums on LinkedIn. I know I am adding into the mix an empathy for the process, which the writer, like myself, went through in creating the book. If I stop on the way, I try to see what was he or she trying to convey.
I try to make my subjective judgment as objective as possible, but I wonder: Should we review each other’s work at all now that we have created an almost personal acquaintance (or, in some cases, a certain dislike) for the other author? How can we avoid the influence of this nepotism?