It's debatable the degree to which anyone can actually be taught to write, but according to one source Salinger blossomed while taking Whit Burnett's writing class at Columbia University. Following is a quote from Fiction Writer's Handbook, by Hallie and Whit Burnett.
"...there was one dark-eyed, thoughtful young man who sat through one semester of a class in writing without taking noes, seemingly not listening, looking out the window. A week or so before the semester ended, he suddenly came to life. He began to write. Several stories seemed to come from his typewriter at once, and most of these were published. That young man was J.D. Salinger, apparently indulging in purposeful reverie,'..."
Like all of us, J.D. Salinger had to start somewhere. He sat in a classroom, as we all have. He paid attention even if it didn't look that way. He put his pants on one leg at a time, as we all do.
Hallie and Whit Burnetts' little guidebook for fiction writers is still in print: http://www.amazon.com/Fiction-Writers-Handbook-Hallie-Burnett/dp/0062731696/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1365019314&sr=8-2&keywords=fiction+writers+handbook
My copy, purchased in 1989, is falling apart from age and use. I recommend it, as did Norman Mailer. Here's an excerpt from his Preface.
"Fiction Writer's Handbook is wise and comprehensive and surprisingly full of touches of lore. It hints of one's craft. A beginner at writing can sleep with this book. There is enthusiasm in the pages. Its author, after all, has lived with the idea of writing for the larger part of her life, and that is probably a disappearing culture. Not many can be left in that small world of a few writers and teachers and editors who believed there were not many vocations more honored than writing, nor many occupations more interesting than to encourage the talent of a young writer.
...a lot of us had the luck to meet and be helped by that small group of editors and writers and teachers who also thought it was important to be a writer. ...One of that group was a very modest man who had a beautiful white goatee by the time I met him. I was still eighteen and wholly embarrassed by my inability to speak a single interesting word to him, and he was shy and embarrassed by his inability to draw me out. We had lunch together...the man with whom I was at lunch was a legend. And his magazine, Story, was its own legend, and young writers in the late thirties and the years of the Second World War used to dream of appearing in its pages... The man's name, of course, is Whit Burnett..."
Everyone who writes can close his/er eyes and see a crowd of people who inspired them or helped in an important way to acquire the tools to write well. Some of these are dead writers and schoolteachers. Some are still with us, published writers, writing group peers, teachers, friends.
You know you appreciate them. Remind them now and then. Let them bask in the glow of your well-deserved gratitude.
Causes Monty Heying Supports