Profile: Megan Atwood, Writing Arts Professor

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Behind her was a bookshelf that seemed to be holding too many books, yet not enough, as some were stacked on top of those that were neatly placed in their designated spot. Her blue eyes beamed behind dark cat-eye framed glasses that were fitting for a cat-woman like herself. Wisps of short blonde hair strayed from her bun. Under her sleeve was an outline of the state of Minnesota tattooed on one arm and what looked like a handwritten sentence on the other. 

The conversation was filled with warm laughter and giggles as her soft voice traveled through her office. She sounded like a picture-perfect librarian from a movie, except you could still hear her Midwestern accent. 

The Perfect Job

Megan Atwood grew up in Sioux City, Iowa and after graduating from the University of Iowa, she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I wanted to be in a bigger city, you know? But close enough so I could see my family,” Atwood said. There was a publishing company Atwood wanted to work for, so she took the initiative to call them and the company accepted her offer.

Llewellyn, the publishing company that Atwood worked at, specializes in astrology and tarot card material. She published 45 books, ranging from young adult content to middle-grade content, publishing her first one at the age of 34. Atwood left everything she knew behind in Minnesota when she moved to New Jersey in 2017 to become a professor at Rowan University

“I’ve been an adjunct professor for about seven or eight years and I was an editor for a bit too, but I just wanted to be a full-time teacher,” Atwood said. “I felt like they wrote the ad just for me.” 

Atwood has loved everything about teaching and has no complaints.

“I love connecting with students, it’s my favorite thing in the world,” Atwood said. “I love that I get to teach creative writing where we just get to talk about people leaning into what makes them happy, what makes their souls fulfilled. I mean, gosh, what a freaking honor.” 

As she spoke, Atwood’s pace fastened, making it hard to keep up with her as she talked about teaching and her students, who she calls her “kittens.”

What Doesn’t Kill You

Atwood grew up closely with her older brother, Scott Atwood, and both of their parents, Malola and Larry Atwood. Her face beamed as she talked about her family. 

“She was a high school teacher,” Atwood said, referencing her mother Malola. “Every fall I’d ask her for advice on my syllabus.”

Malola taught English for 31 years with the Sioux City Community School District until she retired in 2000, then she spent her days with her family and volunteering. Her husband, Larry, the “rule follower” as Atwood described him, was an accountant for 35 years. The two met in their teen years and had been together for 50 years, their love being something that would come out of a Nicholas Sparks’ film. 

“It was very cute. He wrote her a poem,” Atwood said, mentioning that it took a few tries because he was self-conscious about his writing. “He was like ‘I’m not a good writer’ and all this other stuff and it was adorable, absolutely adorable. It was a pretty good poem. He was great.”

Atwood described 2014 as a crappy year. Her mother passed away from lung cancer at the age of 68 and went through a rough patch in her personal life. The next tragedy occurred in 2019 when her dad passed away when he was 77.

“We aren’t sure, he just sat down and died,” Atwood said, shaking her head. “It’s listed as heart failure, but he was healthy, he walked two miles a day… I think it’s because he missed my mom, I think he wanted to go see her.”

Atwood paused briefly. 

“I sound like a sad sack, but I have a really happy life, it’s just been a rough few years,” Atwood said. 

When reminiscing about her childhood memories, Atwood made a point to let it be known that she has won all the insignificant competitions she had with her brother Scott, who is older by six years. 

“He is not dead,” Atwood laughed dryly, also mentioning that he’s given her two nieces. 

A Work in Progress

Atwood is still in contact with her friends and family from the Midwest. She visits twice a year, but that changed when COVID-19 began to spread, keeping her in New Jersey for two years. 

“I miss the landscapes, the lakes – I miss North Minnesota,” Atwood said, reminiscing again. “I love that landscape, it’s so gorgeous.”

While in Jersey, she hopes her friends here find her to be funny, driven and kind, although she recognizes her lack of confidence within herself. 

“It’s a work in progress, but once you hit your forties, though, that goes away a little bit which is great, you’re like, ‘Whatever, this is me. This is the way it is,’” Atwood said. 

Atwood also spent time living in Spain and Washington, D.C., but no other place compared to Minnesota, where she feels at home. Her plan is to spend summers in her Minnesota condo and rent out her home in New Jersey in her absence. Atwood was able to live there this past summer but has more logistics to work out. 

It’s just another work in progress. 

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