Nature versus Nurture Debateruns through Creative Writing

Article excerpt

YOU wouldn't dream of asking a boiler-maker to create your engagement ring, even though he'd be well versed in working with metals. Nor would you expect a 12-year-old child to lead an expedition through New Zealand's wilderness simply because they knew how to walk. So why is it, then, that we expect ourselves and others to create literary masterpieces with little more than a cursory knowledge of the craft of writing to guide us?

Australia's education system is among the best in the world. Our literacy rates are envied by many, and our students a despite the occasional sensationalist assertion to the contrary a have a better grasp of the English language than did their grandparents. We read, per capita, more newspapers than any other nation on earth, and our appetite for literature has the overwhelming majority of us reading for pleasure on a regular basis. But just because we like to read, or we're capable of writing essays and the occasional short story, doesn't mean we know how to craft a dazzling piece of fiction.

The teaching of creative writing (especially in universities and the like) is a relatively new phenomenon and one that continues to spark debate in academic and literary circles. Some argue that creative writing is an art that cannot be taught, while others assert that the craft of pulling together a story is a specific skill that can a and should a be imparted. …