Obviously, I have to believe at some level, writing can be taught, otherwise I wouldn't be taking a class on it. I have to admit, however, a big reason why I took this class was to force myself onto a schedule and to receive feedback from a professor. Call me arrogant, but I didn't think an intro level class had a ton to teach me. I've been writing for pretty much as long as I've known how to put words on paper, and through trial and error, I've at least gotten the basics down (This is not, of course, to say I didn't want to be taught; I love picking up new things about writing). I know how to plot; I know how to characterize; I know how to write a story. What remains to be seen is whether I can do those things at an industry-acceptable level.
Here's what I think. I think you can learn. I think you can learn enough ground rules to get a story onto a page. It might not be a work of genius, but it will be readable. And you can practice. Everyone can practice. You can definitely practice enough to make your work progressively better. But I also think some people are innately better storytellers than others. And some people are better at using language effectively. This does not all add up to being a naturally good writer, but some people are gifted in one aspect or another of writing. I think some people start out with an advantage. They are just better. Genetically, whatever you want to call it. But I think anyone can work hard enough to get published (key word: work). It only depends on how long you want to work at it. I believe Stephenie Meyer does not have to work as hard as me. She's got a gift for storytelling, and I don't. I can learn it, but it will take time.
I believe in natural talent, but I also believe in learning writing as a craft. Imagine writers running a marathon. Some people start out closer to the finish line. Some people start way behind the starting line. We can all finish the race. It's only easier for some people because they have a head start.
That being said, I still don't know where I stand. I guess I won't know until I cross the finish line. What's your stance on this "to teach or not to teach" debate?
I thought about this some more, and it occurs to me the people who are "naturally talented" often possess not an actual from-birth-ability to write. Instead, they share a compulsion to write. People who are "good" at writing without training are usually good because they happen to write a lot. And if you write a lot, you're probably better than the average joe who decides to pick up a pen one day and barf out a novel. So maybe we should actually measure "talent" as whether a person has the drive to write. Some people just do. I think all of us who blog about our writing have this drive. So maybe we are all naturally talented. :-)