My name is Brett Westbrook. I was born and raised in Austin, TX and now live in Olympia, WA. I think of this as ATX2OLY.
Writing for me is fun. It actually, honestly is just fun. A lot of the time, most of the time, it’s not easy. Figuring out the absolute best way to say what I want to get across is a puzzle. I’ll go down a path, certain it’s the right one and then hit a dead end. That’s OK. I’m convinced it’s as important to know what I’m not writing about as it is to know what I am writing about.
Teaching writing has shaped how I approach writing projects, my own included. Most recently, I spent 15 years teaching the Capstone course at St. Edward’s University in Austin. This was a senior research course, required for graduation. My goal was to get my students through that course in a meaningful way, helping them articulate their ideas and their values so that they could talk about their Capstone project with hopefully more pride than loathing. Even more than that, I wanted my students to come out on the other side of Capstone believing in their own voice.
When I worked with students, colleagues, or friends on a writing project, I was keenly aware that too many of us have been traumatized by a writing teacher. I never used a red pen and I never made comments like, “Unclear!” Instead, I asked questions and then listened – carefully – to the answers. There are a few other tricks to the trade, but that one is my cornerstone.
These days, I write the most about pop culture, especially expressions of masculinity. This is academic writing, for publications really pretty much no one reads. It’s still fun to do. I want to write about Lillian Hellman and about movie adaptations that aren’t really thought of as adaptation. The Wizard of Oz (the one with Judy Garland) comes to mind.
Lately, I’ve started picking up and being gifted older cookbooks. Writing about those will be fun.
Weather permitting, I like to be outside. In Austin, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center was one of my favorite places on earth. If you’re ever there, please go. Baseball games, too. Here in Olympia, walking pretty much anywhere is an exercise in scenery-gawking. It is just gob-smackingly beautiful. Indoors, I like art museums and baking.
And then COVID-19. Here’s hoping that anyone who might happen to drop by is safe and healthy.