Eleanor Rieniets x Yen-Rong Wong

We asked the incredible young artists who have spent the past few months developing videos as part of the SIGNAL Screen Commissionsprogram to give their trust to collaborators across Australia. Through Express Media, storytellers from across the continent have created stories in response to the video works.

Yen-Rong Wong’s response to Eleanor’s video:

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It always starts with a good idea, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what they say? Maybe it doesn’t even have to be a good idea. Just an idea – something that can be moulded, shaped, transformed. In any case, I had an idea. I’d been thinking about it for a while now, running it over in my head but refusing to push myself to make it a reality.

It turns out I just needed the weight of expectation – external pressure from my peers, from people I respect in my industry, to get me going. Knowing that there is an audience out there for my work, waiting to see what I produce, waiting for a result of some kind has blasted me into action. I’m not sure where to start yet, but having a plan would probably be useful. Yes, that seems like the logical place to start. What if the plan is bad? What if it goes awry? What if no one likes it and trashes it even though I really like it and think it could be great? An array of what ifs litters my mind.

I do up the plan anyway.

The plan only provides rough vignettes of what I want to do. It is a document full of short paragraphs, flashes of ideas captured and suspended in time. It is rough and I know it will change as I grow and learn, but I do like it. And drawing it up has given me a sense of accomplishment, small as it may be. I have something physical to show for this now, real words on pieces of paper I’ve printed out, instead of flashes of half-thoughts that seem to disappear into thin air. I know the finish line – having something physical I can step back and look at and admire – is far off in the distance and that it’s a place I might not even end up reaching, but there’s a sense of safety in knowing there’s a finish line to reach at all. It’s settled me a bit too, I think. There’s a framework I can look back on and refer to if I ever get lost or too wrapped up inside my own head or if other people try to convince me I’m doing the wrong thing.

It’s the weekend. Should I be working? I’m tired. I probably won’t produce anything of value if I do work. But I’ll also feel bad if I don’t. It’s the weekend. I know everyone else is relaxing. My friends are taking their kids to the beach, my sister is going out for brunch, my cat is sprawled out on the deck in the sunshine. It feels almost wrong to spend the day inside, staring at my screens or pieces of paper or up into the ceiling of my apartment where a chandelier should be hung.

I’ve never realised the full value of encouragement until today. It was out of the blue, a kind email from a judge of a prize I entered but didn’t win. She didn’t have to send me anything, but I found myself getting emotional and almost averting my eyes as I read that she liked my piece and that I should keep writing and creating. It was just that one voice, giving me a boost I didn’t think I needed. I email her a brief thank you note, but I don’t know how to fully convey the depth of my appreciation. I take a screenshot of the message and save it into a folder. It seems silly – trite, even – but I know it’ll come in handy sometime down the track. Even knowing it’s there is a kind of comfort.

I’ve shown what I have to some friends – to a publisher, an editor, a curator. People I trust to be honest, but people I also trust not to rip me to shreds because my ego is a little fragile when it comes to this.

A lull. Productivity has stalled. The lights in my brain are still going off, still firing intermittently, but not as often as they should be. I try not to get myself down about it too much. Lulls are good, I tell myself. You can’t be going on 200 percent all the time. You’d just burn yourself out. Take some time off. Read a book or have a drink or watch some inane television.

It’ll come back to you, my friends say. Are creativity and productivity things you just have to let happen to you? And once they’re gone – or once they seem like they’re gone, will they ever really come back in the same form? I’m not so sure.

This week has been inspired. Inspired by what, I’m not really sure, but everything just seems so much easier. The words and the images seem to make more sense to me now, and I feel like I can see how they will fit together, how they could be presented, if and when the time comes for it to be shown to the world. I’m trying to take advantage of this while it lasts. I don’t know that it will last, but I shouldn’t go wasting inspiration or productivity. I hope it all turns out okay.