I invited Emily Kefalas, author and illustrator of “A Capitol Dream” and “A Call to Congress,” back to offer some insight on the craft of writing. One of her core beliefs as a writer is that there are no bad ideas, and she was more than happy to share her thoughts on this subject.
You are a passionate believer that “all ideas are good ideas if you put pen to paper and write like no one’s opinion matters because it doesn’t.” What does that mean to you?
My one wish for all adults, in whatever field or stage of life they find themselves in, is they wake up and understand the majority of the “truths” fed to them since birth are, frankly, wrong.
I hesitate to use the collective “we” in this scenario, but think about it. Millennials are significantly more vocal about mental health and the wonders of therapy. Why? We’re sharing our “unlearning” and “truth debunking” online. 2020, among many things, is the peak of our digital age, which means we are more connected on a global scale unmatched in the history of mankind (yes, I know, VERY dramatic).
Now what does this have to do with my belief “all ideas are good ideas?” We’ve been conditioned to find, I believe, specific ideas or types of high concepts “good.” I trace this discussion back to the argument of the subjectivity of art. What makes art? What makes art “good?” Does it really matter if art is good to justify its existence?
I believe though there may be recognized communities of notable experts and scholars, we should not limit or challenge our ideas as “not good enough” based solely upon the merit of a handful of opinions on a planet with BILLIONS of brilliant human brains.
“All ideas are good ideas” means do not, DO NOT, let anyone dismiss your untold stories. Sure there are no new ideas, only rewired approaches, but rain water doesn’t flow through different pipes uniformly. Why should ideas?
The first time you start to doubt whether your idea is any good, how do you confront that doubt and keep working with your idea?
I always ask myself, “what about this is making me think it’s not worth it?” Often, I find specific subjects will trigger unresolved and untrue “beliefs” in my subconscious. Sometimes I pause my progress because I’m scared I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I’m wrong.
Newsflash: No one is ever “right.” Keep going.
What do you do to silence the mental ghosts of other people’s opinions?
This goes back to debunking years’ worth of “truths.”
I’m the oldest of three daughters and, for the longest time, I was an unapologetic people-pleaser. I invested YEARS in doing what my inner child thought would make everyone happy. By everyone, I’m mostly talking about my parents.
Since January, I’ve been doing deep cleaning in terms of my “truths,” and it was only a month ago I fully grasped how much energy I invested in the reactions of my parents. These responses to my health, career, interests, overall LIFE had an overwhelming impact on my anxiety and crippled my journey to self-love. I was “fawning” as someone I no longer was, because I thought that’s the version of me they wanted.
Now, the reality is this was all in my head. The brain is brilliant. The mind is a mess. My parents are wonderful role models, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. No one is.
And that’s when it hit me: They are two people with unique personalities. Two. People. How many people do I know? Yes, they’re my parents and I want them to know I love and respect them. But at the end of the day, they’re just two people with different life experiences. Different stories from me.
For you, how do you know for certain that you’ve got a good idea?
When the creative juices flow freely and you as an artist trust how those juices will taste, intuition is the best indication of an idea weighted with impact.
How did this come to be such a strong belief for you?
I was yanked from my limiting beliefs when I:
- moved away from home and experienced life in multiple geographic regions and communities
- read “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero and more recently “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie and “The F*** It Diet” by Caroline Dooner
- actually permitted myself to be vulnerable in a creative space and learn from fellow artists that I was not a pariah in my frustration with “gatekeepers” and “creative hierarchy.”
What would you say to someone who doesn’t quite “get it” or feel like it applies to them?
How poetic! As a fabulous former professor of mine used to say, let me include a little “flick” here to remind your readers of my first response.
If you don’t “get it,” don’t feel like something is wrong with you. I’m not here to force toxic positivity or make you feel as though I have all the answers (HAAAAA). Truthfully, this belief “no idea is a bad one” might not resonate with you if you actually love everything you produce (in any artistic medium) AND you love yourself. Even this mantra is the result of us being aware and mindful of the complexity of creation in general.
In fact, I’d argue that if we all loved ourselves shamelessly and didn’t pay a dime to anyone’s opinions of us, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The limiting beliefs passed down generationally as they pertain to artists are, in short, discouraging.
You don’t have to “get” it. You don’t have to do anything. Just ask yourself where your beliefs come from and if they are *really* true. Only then will the switch flip.
About Emilie Kefalas
Emilie Kefalas is a writer, productive daydreamer, and lifelong doodler currently writing her third book in her “Capitol Dream” series, “The Library’s Alive!” She’s also gearing up for the release of her new children’s book, “RandEm Recipes For Beginner Bakers.” More recently, you can find her diligently developing her production company, RandEm Productions, LLC.
Note: Emilie is a friend, former colleague and fellow Savannah College of Art and Design alumna. Read more about author interviews and promotions.
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