Creative writing strikes back

Featured in

  • Published 20060307
  • ISBN: 9780733316210
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I’M DRIVING BACK from a literary soiree somewhere in Sydney where yet again I’ve been hauled over the coals for teaching creative writing. I was standing in a circle of new acquaintances and a man of a certain age asked what I did. I do various things, writing not the least of them, but, having spent the afternoon in the classroom, I automatically answered: “I teach creative writing.” “You teach creative writing?” he said, glaring at me over his glass of chardonnay. “Creative writing can’t be taught.” This was a self-evident truth and clearly I was somewhat backward for never having thought of it. Every head in the circle nodded in agreement. Uh, oh, I thought, here it comes again: a bit of sport, a spot of rough-and-tumble with a creative-writing teacher.

I wasn’t terribly fazed; I’ve often argued my case to the various tribes of the literati both in and outside the university. I proceeded to explain: “Most universities around the country … ” At the word “university” the flutes of chardonnay froze mid-sip and the heads nodded even more insistently. I instantly recognised my mistake. I had used the word “university”. Oh, we all know what’s happened to the “universities”. They’ve become a joke! And it’s precisely because they teach things like body piercing, cultural studies and creative writing. Good grief, the fellow is clearly a hopeless case.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

Brisbane, late 1960s

FictionYOUR MOTHER DOESN’T like the school holidays. She has to run the shop as well as keep an eye on you. Your brother and...

More from this edition

Beyond the numbers

EssayIT IS SAD that after thirteen years of schooling, education is reduced to a series of acronyms and numbers. BOS, HSC, UMAT and UAC...

Moving private

EssayIN 1991, I did something that once would have been beyond imagination. I enrolled my eldest child in an elite private school. Financially, the...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.