Sam Lipsyte on Teaching Creative Writing

Sam Lipsyte discusses teaching creative writing at Financial Times (yeah, Financial Times, I know).  A few excerpts–

When you teach creative writing, you are already on the defensive. People love to poke you in the chest and cry, “But you can’t teach writing!” This is precisely what I think about automobile driving but I let them rant while I rub the sore part where they poked me. I don’t know why people get so worked up about this subject. Nobody has asked them to teach creative writing or even to learn it. Apprenticeship, the sharing of history and technique, has always been a central feature of art-making. Yet people cling to a romantic idea of the self-made genius toiling away in a garret or napping undisturbed in a sleep module. . . .

You can teach sex, can’t you? Why can’t you teach writing? Most people need to be taught sex. That’s why there are books such as the Kama Sutra and The Joy of Sex, not to mention people, like your best friend’s older sister, or places, like the neighbour’s garage. Nothing’s more natural, and more dependent on natural talent for its most transcendent demonstrations, but sex is still best if taught properly. So, what’s so crazy about passing along a few literary tricks and reading tips?

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