I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what. - Madeleine L'Engle
Kim Drew Wright
Bio Update:A lot has happened since I wrote the longer bio below. I sound so hopeful and focused on creating - I would like to get back to that space. In the span of two years, three massive upheavals occurred in my life. The first was the presidential election of 2016, which spurred my founding Liberal Women of Chesterfield County & Beyond. This took up the majority of my energy and efforts for over a year, until my daughter became seriously ill in February of 2018. Her diagnosis of PANS - Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, sometimes her neurologist interchanges AE - Autoimmune Encephalitis, was shockingly traumatic and the second life-altering circumstance. The third occurred in June of 2018 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have undergone 20 weeks of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, 17 lymph nodes removal, 5 weeks of daily radiation, and, currently, on hormone therapy and reconstruction. I hope to get back to when writing was my strongest passion. However, I have been forever altered by these events. Grassroots activism and civic engagement at a local level are crucial to living in a free and caring community. I ache for the children who may be misdiagnosed and receiving the wrong medication in residential psychiatry units for months or years. And, with my cancer diagnosis...I am even more aware that what we choose to fill our time with is perhaps the most important decision we can make.
Kim Drew Wright has short fiction and poetry in numerous journals and anthologies. The Strangeness of Men, her debut collection of short ficiton and prose poems, won Finalist in USA Best Books Awards and a Silver IPPY. Kim is a social activist and women's advocate. She founded LWCC - Liberal Women of Chesterfield County & Beyond. She graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and had an advertising career. While currently residing in Richmond, Virginia, she has lived in seven states in the Midwest, South, and East Coast. Three children, two crazy Westies, and one husband in retail occupy Kim's time when she is not scribbling furiously at her desk, volunteering in her community, or paddleboarding the James River. Craft beer and poetry keep her sane.
If You Are Interested (how I came to writing):
I'm writing this from the cramped metal bleachers of my son's basketball game, my butt growing numb. The score is not good. And, still us parents cheer all the louder. Bloodcurdling yells and air horn blasts jarring me into a reflective mood. About life and its struggles built one upon the other like the sweat stains on my son's jersey (he's in charge of his own laundry now).
My daughter's beside me, her nose buried in a book. My youngest son next to her, swiping at the mini iPad screen, some angry or flappy bird game. Things have definitely changed since I was a kid. A child of the 70s. A time when Pacman had no competition and roller skating without knee pads was not considered child endangerment. No one owned a cell phone, you ran home for dinner when your mom called through cupped hands off the front porch.
Born in Hampton, VA (My dad worked for NASA on the Viking project. His name's on Mars.) Our family moved to Georgetown, SC when I was a tot. Mom would find me asleep with Dr. Seuss books avalanched around me. My love of great literature already clear. The only thing close to beating books - free rein at Grandaddy's gas station. M&Ms and glass bottle cokes for all kindergarteners! Then Greensboro, NC and any Judy Blume book I could get my hands on. (I'm jealous of today's kids' awesome selection of YA...it was slim pickens back in my day.) Again to SC - Clemson, for a year of basically living on the set of Footloose.
Finally settling in Oak Ridge, NC for my high school years. By this time I had written a few fragile poems and a "novel" for honors english in rainbow colored felt markers. It was the 1980s with skyscraper hair and an even taller stack of romance novels, which I swear fu*cked up my head for life. (Notice awkward Jr High Victorian gown.) No. A man on a horse will not come rescue you, fulfilling your soul. Gag.
I did fall for a man, though. He wasn't on a horse. We met on similar bleachers as today, cheering the Tarheels. Me pursuing Everclear and advertising. Thinking I'd be happy with any aspect of advertising. Not wanting to rock the boat, make waves and all the other tired nautical metaphors for being a wimp. My higher education of literature consisting of one poetry class given by a crusty professor that constantly yelled at us for saying "like" (it was the end of the valley girl years, don't judge) and gave advice like, All girls start to lose their beauty at sixteen. What do you do with that?
I ended up in a suit, pushing papers and deadlines at creatives, building layer upon layer of my generation's guilty cliched feeling of "unfulfilled". Not realizing that as difficult as it seemed at the time to make the switch to the other side of the desk, not doing so would leave my wheels spinning for over a decade.
Now I have 3 kids of my own. Each one born in a different state. Souvenirs of our Midwest circuit. Following my husband's retail career from warehouse to warehouse, plopped amidst cornfields or inner projects.
Our Midwest circuit in miniature:
Charlotte, NC (Red just means hurry the f*7K up, honey.)
Cleveland, OH (Culture shock! What is this white stuff? Lake effect snow? That's a thing?)
Detroit, MI (Does anyone ever smile? Oh, when the snow melts for 3 days in August.)
Sioux City, IA (baby #1, Learned that negative 70 degrees with windchill IS possible!)
St. Louis, MO (baby #2, Finally warm weather again! And, neighborhood tornado sirens.)
Richmond, VA (baby #3, When it snows an inch the city shuts down. Scoff...let me tell you about the winter of 2001 in Sioux City...)
With all the following and baby making (and, yes, neurotic first time mothering) I gave up my soul stomping advertising career sometime around St. Louis. Got serious about mops, baked goods and curtains (It didn't stick. See homework photo.) Became that mother that stalks the halls of the preschool for volunteer opportunities. I still craved more. That more began as, "I just want to start writing a novel and finish it". So I did. It was a conspiracy theory thriller. Full of car chases and romance and murder.
Riftline - When a senator's wife promotes her father's clean energy proposal, she is forced to fight for her life as she is swept up in a world of the glittery political elite, the arms of a wilderness-survival camp owner, and the martini effects in the depths off the shores of Bermuda. We all have to sacrifice a little to make the earth a greener place. Allie might just have to pay with her life.
It's in a drawer.
Then I decided to write another book. But better. So I did. (I'm starting to sound like Forest Gump.) Remembering Hope is 100 thousand words and I love it. Except that it's boring. It needs more tension. Less character point of views. It needs to be rewritten.
Remembering Hope - When a side-effect of a drug trial reverses time for 83 year old Aurora, she must choose to cling to memories of her deceased husband, Hope, or plunge into the possibilities of her altered future. Remembering Hope raises many questions: What are the religious implications of postponing death indefinitely? How do we view the elderly in this society? Should we consider aging to be a disease with a 100% mortality rate?
It's in a drawer.
I putzed around at writer conferences, critique groups, bookclubs (all good things for writers). But I was missing what should have been obvious. Craft. Not my kids' macaroni masterpieces I have hoarded in the attic but the craft of creative writing. Learning the rules of writers that had come before me. So I started taking local classes. The first at a junior college where I was the token old lady surrounded by the weirdly young. (There were a couple of booger pickers. Swear.) The students may not have been Hemingways but they were encouraging and open and by the end of the semester their writing had grown and so had mine. The teacher was fabulous and I was hooked. From then on I dedicated myself to learning the talent of writing by seeking out new teachers, books on craft, and really listening to advice. I fell in love with the classic short story and modern poetry.
I shirked off my terror and started submitting short stories and poetry to lit magazines. Made mistakes. Sobbed for 3 hours because I pissed an editor off (blew that one!). Learned. Got many rejections. Got some acceptances. Realized the publishing industry has changed drastically since I started this journey over a decade ago. The options are overwhelmingly good! My current goal is to learn the Indie route of self-publishing and/or small presses. Totally complete a larger project, a book of linked short stories and a collection of poetry, which are in progress. Then to either revisit my old novels or get serious about the new ones in my head that are clamoring to get out.
So, I sit here watching the game. My son's team isn't going to win. They're behind. By a lot. My son's afraid to take shots. We've talked about it. Being fearless. Taking your chance. In the past every time he's gotten the ball he passes like it's a hot potato. And, the thing is, he's a really good shot. He's trying. He's actually put the ball up a couple times this game. Once he even scored. All net. Swoosh.
I tell my kids not to be afraid to try. Take your shots. Don't worry about the ones you miss. Think about the ones you're going to make. You win when you find the courage to get up off the bench and play. I really hope this for them. And, I've finally started hoping it for myself.
My first graders homework: That looks yummy. I wish I had that for dinner. But my mom can't cook that good.
Steven & Tyler - our two crazy Westies
Photo by: Jessica Elmendorf Photography
From writing on difficult social and equal rights issues to putting that activism into action, Kim founded Liberal Women of Chesterfield County & Beyond two days after the 2016 presidential election. It has grown into a positive force for both giving voice to citizens and providing support for local communities.