By HELENA STONE
When Pima Community College writing instructor Meg Files earned a master’s degree in English, she didn’t realize teaching would become her vocation.
“I didn’t know I would love teaching,” she said. “Once I started teaching, I knew this is what I was meant to be.”
Files has reshaped the West Campus writing and journalism department since she arrived in 1987. At the time, the department offered just one creative writing class and one poetry class.
Nearly 30 years later, with Files as department chair, the program offers a wide range of classes.
Writing instructor Mic Denfeld has worked with Files since 1993.
“Meg is always the person who is looking for creative writing, how to encourage creative writers,” she said.
“As a department chair, she takes care of the curriculum, she makes out the schedules, hires new writing instructors and she is the go-to person for most issues that arise,” Denfeld added.
In addition to teaching, Files has written novels, short stories and poems. She has won many awards for her work.
“I like to be able to really inhabit a life, in a world other than my own,” she said. “Although some of the lives and the worlds I create have some similarity to mine, they are not mine.”
Creating stories involves a relationship with characters, Files noted.
“Someone once described a short story as like having an affair and a novel as like having a marriage,” she said, laughing.
In April, Files celebrated the launch of a second edition of her nonfiction book, “Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry,” published by Allworth Press.
The book includes new information, new stories written by her students and sections about blogging.
Files also established the well-regarded Pima Writers’ Workshop in 1988.
It started as a weekend seminar and discussion group held in a portable trailer behind the West Campus A building with three faculty members and 40 students.
The workshop blossomed into an annual three-day event held at the college’s Center for the Arts complex with more than a dozen faculty and 300-plus students.
It held its final session last May, however, and Files will soon end her tenure as a full-time PCC instructor. She will retire at the end of the current semester.
“It has been an honor to spend much of my career here at Pima and an honor to work with my fabulous colleagues and all of my special students,” Files said. “They are all special.”
Files will still teach at conferences, do consulting work and continue overseeing the Tucson Festival of Books literary awards and masters’ workshop.
She also wants to finish a book she has been writing for a while, and hopes to write more.
Immediate plans include travel. She’s already booked a trip to Iceland, where she hopes to experience the Northern lights.
Files said she will miss her colleagues and students.
“They have been so inspirational to me,” she said. “There is so much talent here among the faculty and among the students. It is amazing.”