Eugene Drew Bridges, who goes by Drew, is a retired psychiatrist who has restored himself to his default identity of English major. He lives with his wife Lauren in Wake Forest, North Carolina,and spends his time reading, writing, storytelling and gardening. He owned and operated an independent bookstore for seven years. Drew was featured in the Fall 2015 issue of Gardener-Webb The Magazine on pages 60-61. Keep reading below to discover his journey from English major to psychiatrist to published writer.
Drew Bridges biography
In college, I started out as an English major. As a child, it was the bookmobile that first hooked me. The panel truck style library-on-wheels made it up our rural dirt driveway once a week during the summers in the 1950s.
Then a high school teacher encouraged me. He said reading broadly is the road to all knowledge and writing well is the most essential skill. And then I read Steinbeck. My God! How do you know the things he knows and how do you learn to tell those kinds of stories?
I graduated from college, the first time, with honors in English literature from Lenoir Rhyne University in 1969. But along the way I learned that the perception of the English major as most noble of actors was hardly shared by all. Impractical. Unfocused. Not marketable. Fluffy. Unless you wanted to be a teacher or believed you were the next Steinbeck.
I lost my nerve. I couldn’t see how I could earn a living as an English major. Teaching didn’t really call to me, so I notified the graduate school – where I had been admitted in their English literature doctoral program – that I wasn’t coming. I decided to go back to undergraduate school to do something else.
I was working as an orderly in a hospital to pay for school, so I figured there must be something in the medical field I could do. I took a few classes in chemistry and physics.
As it turned out, medical schools were in an era of looking for humanists to be doctors. I told the medical school admissions staff that I was going to go back home to my rural county and be a family doctor. I lied. I knew psychiatry was my future. I got in.
After about 40 years as a psychiatrist, I finally figured out that I just wasn’t cut out for that kind of work. So I opened a bookstore in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I opened its doors just as the great recession hit and the Amazon Kindle came out.
In the store, I hung out with storytellers and writers. I wandered through my inventory and found new and wonderful things. In the end, I lost some money, but restored my soul to my default identity as an English major.
I sold the bookstore. I now spend most of my time trying to do what my high school teacher said in the first place. I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.
Visit the Storytelling page to learn more about my love for the spoken word.