Foster’s passion for writing goes ‘beyond enjoyment’

Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau's Drew Foster is passionate about writing, especially narrative nonfiction

SEAVIEW, Wash. — “Writing has always been a huge part of my life. At times it was the only thing I was good at in school. I knew that I wanted to focus on it,” said Drew Foster over a cup of coffee recently.

Originally from the Bay Area of California, Foster moved from San Jose to the Big Island of Hawaii when he was 14. It was around that time that he started considering his future and began writing for his high school newspaper, but it was short-lived.

“I was promptly asked to leave that class because the articles I wanted to write were more ‘newsy’ than what they had in mind,” he said.

It was wasn’t long before he was volunteering at his hometown paper, West Hawaii Today. “I wanted to be around the reporters, around the action,” he said.

Instead, he was given the menial job of digitizing microfilm, which soured him some.

“The publisher told me I’d never work in newspapers,” Foster said. “I’d never have a career. It was really satisfying five years later to prove him wrong.”

Foster went on to work for a series of publications, including a Hawaiian high school sports magazine and the University of Hawaii athletic department, before moving on to the staffs of a number of newspapers in the U.S and south Asia.

“Wyoming, the eastern side of Washington, I worked for newspapers in Cambodia,” he explained.

After returning to the states, Foster found himself at the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, where he was one of the writers dismissed during a round of layoffs in 2014. Unemployed for six months, he began looking outside his normal “box” for work and found an ad for the recently opened marketing communications coordinator at the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.

“Six months had gone by and I didn’t get any job offers. And the job came up at the visitors bureau in a place I’d never heard of. It was a job I really hadn’t considered,” he said.

But he liked the look of the place and the fact that he would be doing a lot of things he had enjoyed while working as a newspaper writer.

And the move was a good one, as he enters his third year in the job later this month. In that time Foster has integrated himself into the community. He’s engaged to marry Ilwaco High School graduate Kady Kirby this winter and has started a small business on the side, called Drawing Board Creative Services.

“It’s Facebook marketing,” he said. “Originally my idea was website content writing. Blogging and small publication writing for small businesses. It’s an extension of wanting to be a writer.”

Q: You had told me previously that to you, “a passion is something that goes beyond enjoyment.” What did you mean by that?

A: “I think that a passion has to be challenging. And challenges aren’t always fun. A passion is going to make you uncomfortable at times. Is going to frustrate you at times. But if you’re really passionate about it you’re going to keep moving forward and trying different things to make it work. It keeps it interesting.”

Q: What challenges have you faced in this pursuit?

A: “I took a couple years off from journalism to try and make it as a fiction writer. To try and make a living at it. And I couldn’t do it, that’s why I went back to journalism.”

Q: You told me previously that writing is what makes you feel “accomplished and whole.” But also, “it can never be conquered.” When would you say writing became this for you?

A: “It’s something that probably happened when I worked as a reporter. I realized there are so many different ways to tell a story. And if you ever get comfortable enough where you think, ‘Man, I’ve got this,’ you’re selling yourself short. You’re limiting yourself if you think you already have it figured out. You always have to leave room for improvement.”

Q: You obviously take writing very seriously, but is it something that actually brings you joy?

A: “Yeah it does. You know, as a writer when you’re nailing it, or when you’re on to something good. When you get that feeling, it’s exciting and energizing. That’s what drives me. I love that feeling. Even if it’s something simple like Facebook marketing, if you put up a post with those two concise sentences that work really well with the image and you start seeing the engagement. You can kinda get a little rush out of that too — those little successes.”

Q: How has the pursuit of your passion changed you over time?

A: “It’s made me more of a listener. And I have kind of a quiet personality. Some people might think I’m a bit aloof or not paying attention, but I think that it’s a lot of listening and observation. I also learned as a reporter when to shut up. I know when to just be quiet and let somebody talk. And I think that really helps in writing, too. Just sit back and be quiet and watch and listen and let things come to you instead of forcing the issue or driving the conversation.”

Q: It’s sometimes hard to ‘justify’ the time for creative pursuits?

A: “And that’s a whole other can of worms. Justifying the time. There’s a book called ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. Great, great book. And he talks about treating creative writing like a job. If you want to become a published author, you create time to do it every single day, like going to work. And I really buy into that. So if I don’t have the time to set aside at least three hours a night, four times a week, than I almost don’t want to be writing creatively. It just doesn’t feel like it’s worthwhile. I mean, it takes time to get warmed up and there has to be consistency to it or you lose the thread of whatever you’re writing about. And man, it’s a lonely style of life. I’m very thankful I have a finance I want to spend time with, instead of just sitting in front of a laptop every single night, banging away on a keyboard.”