Is the wrong question. What we should ask is, can you learn writing?
To which the answer is an unequivocal YES! All writers teach themselves, through an intense and lifelong process of reading, writing, critiquing, editing, rewriting and rereading. This is how we learn.
In this process, a good teacher can save you immense time and effort. A good teacher can show you in an hour the four main point-of-view styles that the bulk of commercial fiction is written in. I have seen students stumble for years to find what they could learn in an hour.
So if the answer is self-evident, why do we continue to ask, can you teach writing? Is the question we are really asking; is writing teaching of value? Is it, in the logic of the capitalist market system, worth a buck?
Here is one certain answer. If you are asking that question, you are not ready to learn any creative discipline yet.
UPDATE : Joining me on my walk through Weird London will be Tom Pollock, author of The City’s Son, Geraldine Beskin, owner of the Atlantis bookshop, and none other than M John Harrison, arguably among greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy literature of all time.
On Thursday 16th May I’m taking a psycho-geographical tour of the sights to see in Weird London. The nation’s capital has been made weird in some incredible fantasy stories, perhaps most famously today Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. To celebrate the release of Mr. Gaiman’s new novel The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I’m helping The Guardian create an audio special on Weird London. What are the London locations that have been most memorably made weird in fiction? And who are the best writers making up Weird London? I’d love to know, and if any of you are free on 16th May, I’d love you to come and tell me about them.
Suggestions for weird locations below, and if you would like to join the tour of Weird London, pop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org