English prof writes shorts stories that engage

English Professor Marc Dickinson in his office in Building 2. He advises the Creative Writing Club. It meets Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. in 2-7

English Professor Marc Dickinson in his office in Building 2.
He advises the Creative Writing Club. It meets Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. in 2-7

On the first day of the creative writing class Marc Dickinson, a creative writing instructor, tells students in order to be a successful writer they need to practice writing every day.

While not all teachers practice what they preach, Dickinson leads by example. Arriving at DMACC around 6 a.m. to spend an hour or two writing before work, he is always crafting or revising a short story. He has published a number of short stories himself.

Dickinson is often told by students that they read to escape.

He argues that, “If anybody wrote that they love my work because they got to escape reality I would be totally insulted. I am writing so you can engage with reality and not just turn your brain off.”

He encourages his readers to “ask questions and wrestle with things.”

Dickinson believes that the short story is a great format because the reader can get the message in a shorter piece — something that can be read in two hours instead of two days — and the writer is forced to avoid long passages that do not help advance the story. While he loves that short stories require one to tell a rich story in a short piece, the brevity is what challenges him each day when he is writing.

While he has lived in a few different states, Dickinson got his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Northern Iowa and after getting his M.F.A. in creative writing at Colorado State University, he and his wife returned to Iowa.

His first job after receiving his M.F.A. was teaching for DMACC and he has been at the Ankeny Campus for 10 years.

He returned to Iowa because, “There is something about Iowa … For so long I rejected [it]. I thought, ‘oh it’s so boring!’ but people in New York think Iowa is an alien place… I have really embraced Iowa culture.”

He points out that there are some very rural parts of the state while just a few minutes down the road there is a city. This creates a diversity in the culture and people in Iowa.

Dickinson says he loves teaching because, “Outside in the world, nobody wants to talk about poetry and they don’t want to talk about my writing. So in the classroom I get to talk about the one thing I love all day long.”

This passion and enthusiasm for his work comes through in his decision to form the Creative Writing Club on campus.

The club meets Wednesdays from 12:15-12:45 p.m. in Building 2 room 7.

As Dickinson describes it, this club is a “community of like-minded people who are peers, but at the same time are trained to look deeper.”

Dickinson encourages students to stop by the club and meet him and other interesting writers.

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