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Katherine West

interview by Douglas Eby

 "Writing is like painting with words."

 Katherine West is a freelance author, columnist, editor, and webmistress who creates a wide range of columns, poems, fiction and non-fiction.

"Writing is like painting with words," she says, and thinks she uses both right brain and left brain skills: "Some days I'm more analytical; other days I'm more creative and brainstorm. But I can never make a decision; I fight with myself. I do too many things and I overload myself. I do that all the time. I have too many irons in the fire. I have a newsletter, and three columns, and a new site, Writer's Haven."

She writes material about giftedness, and one of her daughters is gifted. West has found there may be support from the school system for high academic ability, but notes she's "had to fight for eight months to get my daughter more art help, because she's artistically gifted. Academically, they get hours and hours a week. Finally, they put her in an extra art class. But who's to say what's better?"

A column of hers on education is often geared toward ADD and special needs. "My oldest daughter is ADD," she notes. "The majority of ADD kids are so intelligent. A lot of it is boredom. I see so much of myself in her, and I wonder if maybe I was ADD, but I got such good grades, they didn't recognize it." West recalls explaining to her daughter, "You're always thinking. There's a million things going through your head, and you can't focus on any one thing. She exclaimed, 'Yeah, how do you know?' and I said, 'That's me.' 

"One reason ADD people have so much trouble is they're thinking so much. And I've spoken to other gifted people about this. Anyone that thinks that much - constantly, with a million different thoughts in their head - some people, some brains are going to have different abilities to handle that."

She has been an article writer with Themestream "since it began, before it launched," West notes, and her articles include "Ten Steps to Higher Grades for Your ADD Child" and "26 Positive Things about ADD and 46 Famous People With ADD." 

"I include people they think had ADD like Alexander Graham Bell, and just tons of people. I get the best comments from that, and people thank me and say they show it to their child. That's why I wrote it, so I could show it to my daughter. She's like, 'No way!' And then I had her take it to one of her teachers, who treats her like she's an idiot or something." 

West says the article also lists positive things about people with ADD, "Like they're very resilient, and very caring."

Another topic of interest to her is the relationship of giftedness and mental illness. "Many symptoms of depression and other things are normal for gifted people," she says. "And sometimes, it's misdiagnosed. It's just, you're different; you're built different. That's why they're more eccentric, often."

West says she is amazed by people with wide-ranging abilities. She cites the example of someone she knows who is an engineer, "and went to law school just so he could do patents better. And he doesn't even practice law." She thinks "that's why, maybe, it's a good idea when people are writers, because then they have so many interests they can write about. 

"I was going to go to medical school, but then I got pregnant with my oldest, and I never went. But I took eight credits of science in high school, and I think that's why I write good non-fiction, because I think scientifically. Every little thing helps you."

Speaking more of her appreciation of gifted people, she comments, "Everyone looks at things in a different way, but creative people are better at it. Like in the movie"Dead Poets Society" and Robin Williams makes his students stand on the desk, to look at things in a different way. 

"That's why I think writers are very creative; we look at things differently, because we just have to. You have to bring information in a new way, to touch people with it. Nobody wants the same thing all the time. 

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Katherine West author site

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