Writer Kinsey Gidick ’06 walked off the Cistern stage and into a 10-year employment odyssey, determined to make her passion a career. Her persistence paid off as she was recently named editor-in-chief of the award-winning alt-weekly Charleston City Paper.
Gidick grew up in Yakima, Washington, but before her family moved there, they lived in Charleston, where her father was an officer in the Navy. “My little sister was actually born in Charleston,” says Gidick. “Growing up my parents brought us back to visit many times and I was always fascinated by the city so wildly different than my West Coast home.”
After high school, she lived in Imatra, Finland, as a Rotary Exchange Student. “That was an incredible experience, but after essentially living through nine months of winter, I was done being cold. My parents reminded me that there was a college in Charleston so I applied and found myself trading in my heavy winter coat for a closet of sundresses a few months later.”
While at the College of Charleston, Gidick majored in communication with a focus in media studies. She says she’s always loved writing. “My mom is a local journalist and has written a couple unpublished novels and my dad is a dentist-by-day, playwright-by-night, so writing is definitely in my blood. My childhood was spent performing in our local theater company which, I think, really sparked my love of storytelling. When I write I still read most of my pieces aloud to myself because, in my head, I hear all stories — news features, poems, novels, etc. — as dialogue.”
Though Gidick describes her path after graduation as “a slow one,” she eventually got to where she wanted. “I graduated in 2006 and spent the next 10 years in jobs I basically had to weather. I worked as a front desk person at a law firm, a book publicist, a scientific journal production manager, a resort marketing manager, a digital marketing PR person, but during all of those jobs I freelance wrote at night publishing in various publications in Vermont, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Washington. Finally, in 2011, I was hired as the assistant editor at Charleston magazine and I was so happy and relieved to finally have a full-time writing job, I sobbed in the parking lot.”
When asked how CofC prepared her for her new position as editor-in-chief at Charleston City Paper, Gidick explains:
“I had some really exceptional professors in the communication, theater, and history departments who I probably didn’t appreciate as much as I should have while I was in their classes. Dr. Elena Strauman left a lasting impression. I can’t remember what comm class I had with her, but she always pushed her students to question everything. I took History 101 with Dr. David Gleason and even though history wasn’t my major, that class taught me so much about research and adding historical context to my writing.
But, hands down, my most influential professor was Dr. Chris Lamb. Unfortunately, he’s no longer at the college. Dr. Lamb had worked in newspapers before becoming a professor and it was the first time I had a teacher who had done what I hoped to do. It’s funny looking back on his class. I wasn’t his best student, that’s for sure. In fact, I think I was a bit of a pain the ass. I remember writing Dr. Lamb a snarky email asking asking him why he’d given me a lower grade on an assignment I thought I’d crushed. He basically gave it to me straight and told me I was a good writer, but my work was sloppy. I’d left in misspellings and should have asked a friend to proofread. That was eye opening. He let me know that if I really wanted to have a journalism degree, I’d need to up my attention to detail. That’s something I strive for every day.
And it’s really thanks to him that I have this job at City Paper today. Dr. Lamb encouraged me to apply for an internship at Charleston City Paper. I can’t thank him enough for that.”
To sample Gidick’s work, pick up a copy of Charleston City Paper around town or online at charlestoncitypaper.com.