by Anura Guruge
++++ Check Category ‘books‘ for most of my other posts about books and authorship >>>>
I met Brandy at last Thursday’s “Bucket List” writers group at Alton’s Gilman Library. Holly Brown our Alton librarian had been urging me for month’s that I should put in an appearance. I just had some time that day so I dropped in.
Brandy is nearly finished with her first book, a work of fiction. I have nothing but admiration for people that can write fiction. I haven’t tried as yet but I know that I will struggle if I try my art at that form. But I plan to try down the road IF I have enough time.
Brandy appears to write quite a bit and is keen to share her writing with others. Hence the blog. It has both fiction & nonfiction work. Check it out. Some interesting stuff.
I am glad I can give her the publicity. I always try to help other authors irrespective of their status as an author or their stature in the field. I was always lucky in my life that people seem to appear from the woodwork to help me at various points in my life. I know, for a fact, that I would not have been able to write, or at least write like I do, if not for Dr. Tom Westerdale a U.S. Vietnam exile who taught Computer Science at Birkbeck College, University of London, when I was doing my Master’s, and for reasons that I never understood at all, took it upon himself, totally voluntarily and way outside of his assigned teaching responsibilities, to be my ‘shadow’ tutor when I was writing my dissertation. I was 25 and since I was 16 my life had revolved around computers and having fun. The last English class I took was when I was 15 — though I did win the English prize (per the British system) that year, and that amused me because everybody else in my class was either British or American, and English definitely at the time was my second language. Dr. Westerdale, a lovely gentle man, one of the cleverest people I have met (and I have met and worked with quite a few), used to brutalize my then writing. He would spend about an hour every Thursday afternoon going through my writing. He would sit on the floor of his spacious, book littered study with my manuscript in his hand. I would sit wherever that allowed me to take notes. He would read each of my sentences out loud. Then he would say: “so what you are saying is …”. Without fail he always managed to find an alternate interpretation to what I had said. I would, of course, argue that that was not what I had said — at all, at all. He, a gifted intellectual, far, far cleverer than me, would push back. He would laugh at me. Given that I am a bit slow on the uptake it took me a few Thursday afternoon’s before I finally got it sorted out. He wanted me to be precise in my writing. He didn’t teach me how to be precise or how to write. My intentionally intensely idiosyncratic style is all my doing. What dear Dr. Westerdale taught me was that you can be and as such you should be very precise when you write in English. It was a gift that has served me well. Dr. Westerdale was but one. I think of him often. Sometimes I write a sentence and my mind drifts back to his study in the late 1970s, both of seated on the floor. I can hear his voice asking me if this was really what I meant to say. Invariably I go back and rewrite the sentence. I dedicated one of my books, with gratitude, to Dr. Tom Westerdale. All of us would do well in life to have a Dr. Westerdale for help.
Brandy used to be a professional photographer. This is one of her pictures.