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I Don’t Think It Can Be Taught Either

Nobel Laureate Morrison

“For students, I thought it wasn’t going to help at all. I thought it was going to make them think that that could be taught. And it can’t. My feeling was, you could take something and make it a little bit better by editing it—or you can throw it in the trash, or whatever—but you cannot teach vision. Talent you can hone, but the essential thing, the compulsion to create—where you know that if you don’t do it, something dies in you—that’s there or it’s not. And I thought that part was going to be watered down in the sort of creative writing industry.”

Toni Morrison, explaining why an M.A. in Creative Writing dost not a writer make in a Poets & Writer interview with Kevin Nance.

I’m glad Ms. Morrison set the record straight on this one, because I couldn’t agree more. I get awfully tired of people inferring that writing is a sort of folly hobby that anyone can dabble in in his or her free time. Or that talent in writing can be purchased for the cost of a two year degree. As a writer whose name escapes me once said: “When I tell people I’m a writer they’ll reply that they’ve thought of writing in their spare time. So I’ll ask them: ‘what is it that you do for a living?’ And if they reply that they’re a doctor, then I’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’ve often thought of practicing medicine in my spare time. Except that I don’t have any.”