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Past Instructors

Charles Shields

When did you first feel like a writer?

When my first news article appeared in the high school newspaper, and I saw my words in print, I knew I had found my place in things. This was something I was better at than most of my classmates. I would probably never be Homecoming king, or president of student government, or the highest scorer on the SAT, but I could write and was therefore someone to be reckoned with.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

The instructor’s responsibility is to help students become what they were meant to be: poets, short story writers, essayists, technical writers, screenwriters, and so on. Sometimes, they just want to be competent writers. In a way, it’s like acting as a guide and counselor. Certainly not insisting, “Here’s exactly how to do it.”

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

It’s a funny question. Everyone is a work of fiction, narrating their own lives, creating their character. That’s not to say that everyone is inauthentic, but we are deep in our own stories and I, for one, am always interested in hearing them told.

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