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Who's to Say?

Anyone who has an interest in the writing business, whether as an author, a book coach, an editor, an agent, or any of the innumerable associated professions, agonizes over the role of gatekeepers in the writing world.

A gatekeeper is a person with the power to kill a book in its tracks, to impose a set of pre-ordained rules about the nature of what makes a piece of writing good or bad. Often the gatekeeper is new to the craft of writing, perhaps having studied it in college, but never having tried her hand at the hard work of putting words on paper.

But who gatekeeps Indie writers, those poor souls the writing demons have seized by the neck, and who are hell-bent on bringing their book to life without a keeper's imprimatur?

But you say to me, "There are writing rules everyone must adhere to."

OK, I know what you mean. Those are the rules established after the fact, after a book has hit it big, or someone has flouted the former rules and in so doing brought a new voice, a unique vision, to the world.

I remember a conversation I had with a professor about what constituted a classic book. She taught a list of classics, none of which were less than fifty years old.

"Isn't anyone writing classics now?" I asked.

She would not answer the question and just kept repeating that the books on her list had stood the test of time.

That's a safe answer, but it dodges the heart of the matter.

Who's to say what book burning in a writer's soul today is not as great as the "classics"?

The gatekeepers can pretend to know what makes a great book, but all they really know is what books have risen to the top.

And they don't know what books will rise to the top next.

It's all up to the writer who stays with it, who plugs away day after day and follows his heart.

Gatekeepers be damned.

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