Quarantine & Commissions

Hi friends!

It sure has been a long time since I’ve posted here. As it turns out, graduating college in the middle of a global pandemic is… interesting to say the least. It’s been a difficult road so far and who knows how long it will take for us to get out of it. But, let’s not focus on the negatives, because I have some exciting news!

I’m going to be taking writing commissions! I’m trying to build out my portfolio, keep my writing skills sharp, and also earn a little extra on the side, and I’m really excited about this. I’ll be taking commissions for original work, fanfiction, screenplays, and editing and proofreading over on my newly set-up Ko-fi page. If you’re interested, check it out at http://ko-fi.com/mpinkneywriter. I might even be posting some commissions on this blog, so stay tuned for those!

I also have other projects in various stages that I hope to share with you all soon. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy in these strange times. Until next time!

Four Lines for Four Years

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” – Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

During freshmen orientation at Chapman University, the students are asked to write down on a strip of fabric a wish. Something they want to do or see or accomplish in their time there. It’s a way to get these fresh-faced seventeen and eighteen-year-old kids to start thinking about college as more than just a string of classes, parties, and the times in-between. It’s the first time some of them are really putting thought into who they might be on the other side of the next four years.

I don’t know how many people remember what they wrote on their strips. I definitely didn’t remember mine until I found a photo of it the other night. But now, I can assure you that somewhere, tied onto a wooden frame, is a little white ribbon with my name on it and a simple sentiment.

What did I want to accomplish during my time at Chapman? “To find the person I’m happy to be.”

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Dancing in the Rain

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Yes, my friend,

there is Evil in this world as yet unconquered

and when the morning comes

we will have to face it again.

But — Listen!

Hear the rain on the rooftops.

Feel the coolness on your skin.

Watch as everything old and worn and broken and ugly is cleaned away.

Tomorrow, we will have to start anew.

But tonight, come and dance with me in the rain.

February Update

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Happy 2020 everybody!

Folks, it has been way too long since I’ve written here and I apologize for that. I was focusing on working and getting ready for my last semester of school (oh Lord, no please, stop) and just generally trying to figure out how to get back into a routine after the holidays.

Fortunately, I’ve had some success with one of my consistent resolutions: “write every day.” As a writer, the only way I can improve is to keep writing, but that can be difficult to do if I’m unmotivated or between projects. My goal with this resolution is to make writing a habit that I can carry past school and into my working life. It doesn’t matter what gets written or how much, just as long as something does.

This past month, I’ve written almost eight thousand words, which considering I took a week off to the mountains, is nothing shabby. There’s a fair amount that probably will never see the light of day, just therapeutic writing and fan fiction. But, there’s also been a lot of worldbuilding and writing in the world of Birth by Flame and, recently, some research into another project that I’ve wanted to develop for a while and finally feel like I’ve made a breakthrough with.

Looking forward to February, it will be a challenge to keep up with schoolwork and writing. Fortunately, I’m also going to be finishing up and developing a script this semester, so I have that to look forward to with everything else.

A huge shout out to Evie Drae (@EvieDrae on Twitter) for starting the DailyWriteLGBTQ hashtag and helping keep me and other writers accountable to our goals. I’m excited to see what we all come up with this year!

Hopefully it won’t be another two months before I write here again, but until then!

Letter to an Eleven-Year-Old

Dear eleven-year-old Matthew,

I hope you’re enjoying your winter break. God, it’s almost Christmas again. It’s amazing how time flies. Speaking of time, this is you at twenty-one writing. Hi! Another decade is approaching and I wanted to take some time to reflect. Whenever I write, I imagine the audience I want to write for. Then I imagine who I was at that time and what I wanted to see or, more importantly, needed to see. So, here are a few things that might be good advice for you going forward in your next decade.

Cherish those close to you. The friends you make from now through the rest of school are going to be some of the best friends you’ll make. Some of them you’ll keep in touch with all the way from now until you graduate. Some of them you won’t, and that’s okay. Sometimes people are only supposed to be in our lives for a little while. Thank them and let them go. Remember them, but don’t worry about them. Same goes for family. I know Mom and Dad and Tia and Cassie are going to get on your nerves at time, but family will always have your back. They won’t always be here, so love them and hold them tight while you still can.

Learn how to actually communicate. Life gets so much easier when you tell people what you actually feel. That’s not an easy thing to do. You do make yourself vulnerable by doing that. I’m not going to lie, you will get hurt more than a few times in the next decade. You’ll have your hopes dashed, your heart broken, your fears realized. But, if you can be honest with your emotions and tell people what you want and what you need from them, you’ll at least be on the same page and be able to grow from that.

Listen when people give you advice. You’re so bad at this. You’re still not great at it, ten years later. Sometimes people give you advice even when you’re not asking for it, and that sucks. But, when you do ask for advice, just lay it all out there and be willing to hear feedback. Don’t just fight every impulse that comes your way. I know you don’t believe it, but sometimes adults actually know what they’re talking about. And sometimes, they don’t and your friends know better. And sometimes, only you know what’s right to do. But you’ll never know if you don’t listen.

Go to therapy. This is my piece of practical advice for you. Go to therapy much sooner than I did. Going to therapy doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. What it means is that you are a person with a brain and you want help figuring out how to make your brain work for you. Having a space where you can talk about your feelings, free from judgment and prejudice, and work through those emotions? It’s amazing. Seriously, go to therapy, probably some time in high school, freshman year college at the latest.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to be yourself. You are the only one who knows what is right for you. You’re going to learn a lot of things about yourself that are big and scary. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do in the next ten years. And we’ve still got a lot of growing up to do in the next ten. Just keep holding tight to what you think is right for you to be doing and go forward.

People always call you smart, but I don’t know if that’s the best thing to say to kids, so I’ll say this instead. Matthew, you are kind. You are caring. You are creative and curious and always willing to lend a hand to a friend in need. You have a way about you that always knows how to cheer people up and you are there for those who need it most. Your love is strong and your mind is vast. More than being smart, this is who you are. This is the core of your being that’s going to stay strong over the next ten years. And hopefully, it’ll stay strong over the ten after that.

I’m not quite old enough to know if that’s the case. But hey, that means we get to find out together.

Love,

Twenty-one-year-old Matthew

 

A Poem for Trans & Non-Binary Folx

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I’d like to offer up a prayer, if you like,

to those whom *god has given

the most literal challenge of self-invention.

*insert your preferred deity, supreme force, or inspiration icon here

 

I ask for strength in your darkest hour.

I ask for courage in your deepest sorrows,

to stand and face the new dawn with tear-stained cheeks.

I ask for solidarity in your hardest fights

(and offer my own without a second thought).

I ask for safety, for space,

for friends who will pick up your burdens and carry you forward

when the pain of fighting is too much for you right now.

 

But most of all,

I ask for love.

I ask for joy.

I ask that, on that glorious morn

when you rise, Venus-like, from the depths of the noisy sea

on a clamshell of your own creation,

the angels and spirits that flock to you don’t bring cloth to hide you in decency.

I ask that they lift you up above their heads

to help you proclaim to the world that “this is me,

I am here and strong and proud in spite of all who would silence me.”

And, when you are set down on bare earth,

and take your first tentative steps as your whole self,

I ask that you know peace.

Back-to-School Thoughts

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Tomorrow is the start of my senior year of college. My schedule looks great, I’m excited for my classes, I have some great opportunities and projects I’m finalizing, so this year is going to be great.

And I am honestly terrified for tomorrow.

This summer has also been amazing. I stayed down in SoCal, so I was able to have a ton of fun and do some incredible things with people I’ve grown incredibly close with. We just got back from a road trip up to the Bay Area and it was one of the best experiences of my life, hands down. I’m really happy with where I am right now and there’s a lot I want to do with the people I’m with, but there’s only so much time left in the year before everything changes.

If starting college was like jumping off a diving board, leaving it is going to be like cliff jumping. I can prepare for as long as I can, but eventually, my feet are gonna leave that cliff and I’m gonna splash into that water and have to swim. I guess I just hope the people I really care about don’t drift too far away when we all splash down.

Gather Around and I’ll Tell You a Tale

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I’m gonna say it was in around April or May of last year when my friend, Wyatt, asked me if I was interested in joining a tabletop campaign he was going to be running with some of our other friends. Now, I wasn’t too close with a lot of the people in there, they were pretty casual friends for the most part, but I had heard great things about Wyatt as a DM and the campaign did sound interesting, so I said, “Sure, why not?”

Well, exactly one year ago today, we had the play session that honestly kind of changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. It started me on the longest campaign I’ve ever been on with our current arc ending this coming Sunday. It’s been an incredible creative spark for me and an inspiration in character building and storytelling. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, bringing the actor in me out in a big way and forcing me to deal with some interesting mental issues that I otherwise might have ignored. And, without a doubt, it has created some of the closest and most important friendships I have had to date. In order to commemorate this special day (seriously, one year for a campaign!), I wanted to share with a brief story of how we found friends where we least expected them.

As some of you might remember, my family and I went to Europe for a few weeks this past winter break. We had a lovely time over there, but the process to actually get to Europe was an ordeal. Our flight on American was delayed getting out of San Jose and while we were assured we’d be at a close enough gate to make our connection in Dallas, we landed at a different terminal entirely, causing us to miss the last flight to London and have to stay in a hotel in Dallas. On Christmas night, no less.

Throughout this whole process, I’d been Snapchatting and texting my friends to let them know how the trip was going, because how often do people go to Europe, right? (Little did I know that summer, like, everyone would be going to Europe, but shhh). I’d also been texting our Skype group for this campaign. See, while most of us in the group went to Chapman, a few of our players were the DM’s friends from back home in Dallas. One of them, Tayler, joked around with me about meeting up when I was in town, though I didn’t expect to be actually in Dallas for more than a couple of hours, max.

Now, tired and hungry and frankly pissed off as we waited and waited and waited for our bags to come out, the prospect about tossing us Whataburger through security sounded a lot more appealing. It also didn’t hurt that we found out the hotel we’d be staying at was pretty close to their town. A lot of texting back and forth, because hey, we had some time to kill, and Tayler agreed to bring Nate, another one of our campaign buddies, and some food to the hotel.

When I got the text from them that they were in the lobby, it was almost as exciting as being in Europe would have been. We had only met maybe four months ago over Skype, but not in person. We had plans to all meet up a little later in winter break, but this random meeting was going to be my actual first time meeting these Internet friends. A lot of older people don’t understand how you can have such strong connections with people over the Internet. The thing is, even though we’d never met before in person, I felt almost like I knew these two better than I knew some friends I’d known since kindergarten. There’s something about coming together over a mutual love and experiencing things as a group that really bonds you. Running through the lobby to give them both a massive hug was maybe the perfect unexpected Christmas gift I could have received.

As a fun little addendum to this story, Tayler and I actually wound up going ice-skating in London not three weeks after then. It’s crazy how things pan out, isn’t it? Anyways, here’s to the whole crew of this crazy little Star Wars game. Happy one year and here’s to another one full of bad jokes, epic fights, and more emotional turmoil than you can shake a therapist at.

Mulan (2020) and the Problem of Disney Remakes

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Disney just released the first trailer for their 2020 film, Mulan. While ostensibly a live-action adaptation of their 1998 film of the same name, fans were upset by the news that large elements of the film would be missing, such as the musical numbers and characters like Mushu and Li Shang. With this trailer, we see that Disney’s vision for the film seems to be much more action-oriented, possibly in the vein of popular Chinese productions like the 2009 film starring Zhao Wei.

The history of Disney’s attempt to remake their animated classics into live-action is an interesting yet complicated one. I wanted to just get some brief thoughts out on why I, among others, think this trailer bodes much better for this film than some of Disney’s recent offerings.

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