Are talented writers just born that way?

Whenever I watch Glee, I can't help but think about my own show choir days in high school. Show choir might seem really cheesy to some people (ie, my husband), but man, it was so much fun! Tap dancing...flapper dresses...performing on stage. It was an absolute blast.

Unlike Rachel Berry, however, I never landed any solos in my choir. See, my voice wasn't up to snuff. Sure, I could sight-read like a mofo and I could blend my voice pretty well, but I didn't have enough talent to belt out songs like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "All By Myself." (Jazz hands!) No matter how hard I tried, my hours of singing and practicing could only take me so far. After all, it takes a certain amount of natural talent to become a great singer, and I was born with only a slighty-above-average voice.

This made me wonder...does this line of thinking apply to writers as well? Are some people simply gifted with the art of writing?

Hmm. I can see both sides of the coin for this one. On one hand, I think certain people are naturally gifted at writing. Jhumpa Lahiri, for example, blows my mind with her prose. *Swoon* The way she conveys a scene and develops her characters--it's simply masterful. Whenever I read her stories, I truly believe I'm reading a piece of art. It's just that good.

Read this book!

Yet, I also realize that many great writers become great after years and years of practice. It's easy to read a masterful book and think, "Whoa! This is mind-blowing!" But we often don't see the dozens of revisions that went into the manuscript or the dozens of rejections the writer faced to get to this point. Some people may be born with great writing genes but most of us have to toil to improve our craft.

Um yeah, I'm definitely part of this latter group. A couple weeks ago, I read an old draft of my book and--whew!--it was smelly. (I actually laughed at some points at how bad it was!) At the same time though, I also realized that I've learned so much about writing and plot and dialogue in the past couple years. With every paragraph I write, I get better. With every book I write, I grow. Well, at least I hope so!

So what do you guys think? Are some people born great writers? Or is great writing something you have to learn?