How writers review their critics

Lesley McDowell in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_02 Sep. 23 23.08 Is this really what writers think of critics? That they spend their time typing up vicious reviews of authors because they're jealous, or to defend their friends? Or because it's the closest their talentless, deluded minds can get to literary immortality? The thing is, having been on the “other side” for so long, I know better. I know that the majority of reviews are not personal, and are not written by people who can't master the craft hitting out at those who can.

But you don't have to be a critic to know this. A cursory glance at the majority of broadsheet books pages would show that most reviewers are not “wannabes” – most of them are also published writers. Gone are the days when the critic was in one corner and the author in the other, two different species eyeballing each other before the fight to the finish. It's a strange hybrid, this author-critic creature. I can't think of another art form where the “practitioner” and the critic overlap like this. Where are the dancers who are also dance critics? Where are the playwrights who also write theatre reviews? Where are musicians who critique bands? Only in literature does this overlap occur, although writers, it would seem, would prefer to believe that it doesn't. Writers would prefer to believe that critics are separate, and that their separation means they're the enemy, and out to get them.

The irony is that writers are generally meaner to other writers than critics are. Few critics have anything to gain by penning a bad review. (Writers like to believe Michiko Kakutani achieved the status she has by writing bad reviews of the big boys, but if that were true, we'd all be doing it).

More here.