Pipe Dreams

Any other writers out there with dream projects building up in their minds but no confidence to actually write them, or are you normal?

I have one such project. It’s been eating me up inside for a while. I daydream about it all the time.

Everyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with Tudor history and literature. They also know I love ghost stories. It’s been my desire the last few months to write a ghost story wherein Henry VIII is being haunted by his ex-wives. I even have the opening scene mapped out: Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are dancing in yellow, rejoicing that Katherine of Aragon has finally died, when Henry VIII feels like a cold hand has reached inside his chest and squeezed his heart. I even wrote a poem about it!

Ring around the banquet hall
in yellow silk a’twirl,
raise your hands, give up the call:
hurrah, the Queen is dead!

Yellow Silk by Cassandra Armstrong

When it comes to actually writing it, though? I freeze like a deer caught in headlights. I’m not at all confident in my ability to do it justice. Or in my ability to finish it if I do begin it.

Once, just once, I’d like my brain to operate as a normal brain, so I can Get Shit Done.

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October Art and Writing Challenge Wrap-Up

Though I didn’t share many of the haiku I wrote in October to WordPress, I still want to talk about the challenge, why I chose to do it, and what I got from it–the good and the bad.

I was stumbling around on Twitter and came across this post by Holly. On a whim, I decided to give it a try. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to 1) force myself to write and 2) practice my digital art skills. And it was a prompt list all about autumn and Halloween, two of my favorite things.

Why did I choose to write all haiku? Because I find haiku to be rather easy to write, and I’m good at them. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing long poems as it was my intention to finish a 31-day challenge in only 15 days. Because I’m extra af sometimes.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the challenge. And I like most of the poems I wrote for it, with notable favorites being Death and Witches. There were a few I felt were not my best work, especially towards the end of the challenge, but I’m proud nonetheless. I did finish the challenge, after all. It’s not very often I get to say that.

Endeavoring to write 31 poems in 15 days did what it was supposed to: it forced me to write. Multiple times per day, in fact. Which is somehow both a positive and negative thing. I definitely started feeling some burnout towards the end of the challenge. The last few poems felt like pulling teeth. I started to hate what I was writing and didn’t want to do it anymore. But I was determined to finish the challenge, so I made it easier on myself the only way I could: I stopped drawing illustrations for each poem and used stock photos to complement each piece. That helped a lot, and I was able to finish on a high note.

For the last poem, I chose to break away from the haiku format. It is, of course, titled Halloween. Enjoy!

Read the rest of the poems here or on my Instagram.

Beware:
when the nights grow chillier
and a red moon turns clouds into rivers of blood —
Hallowe’en is here.

Look:
the pumpkins put on smiles,
jagged teeth gnashing fire into pulp —
Hallowe’en is here.

Watch:
the witches take their vengeance to the sky
phoenixes risen from the ashes of their abusers —
Hallowe’en is here.

Listen:
to the breaths of ghosts on the wind,
the long-lost souls doomed to roam earth —
Hallowe’en is here.

Duck!
The bats in the belfry have awoken,
a black cloud that blots out the moon —
Hallowe’en is here.

Scream:
the doorbell is a too-normal sound
among all these phenomena.
Hallowe’en is here.

Smile:
at the painted faces of the children
dressed as ghouls and ghosts and gross things.
Hallowe’en is here.

Sink:
into warm blankets, autumn treats at hand,
and wait for the next round of haunts.
Hallowe’en is here.

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Macbeth Doth Come: A Poem

I press my hand to
black fur soft as
a newborn’s blanket.
I can feel his heart beating
beneath my fingertips,
and though he looks lifeless,
his chest rises and falls
as he inhales,
exhales.

Though there is pain in his eyes,
and though he is confused
and frightened,
I also see love and trust
shining in those green depths,
and I’m stricken by the breadth
of love
I feel for this four-legged angel.

Through the tears, I smile
and remember the first day I saw him,
so small and scared and lost.
And I have to laugh
because I never stood a chance;
I didn’t choose him,
he chose me.
I was his before I could ask
“Can we keep him?”

I was 17 years old when I came home from a walk with my friend and my mom told me she had found an orphaned, feral kitten in the garden. He was the cutest little thing, and so hungry and scared. We caught him and brought him inside — and that was it. He became mine. My angel. My Macbeth. ♥

Years ago now, Macbeth came down with a terrible urinary tract infection. He had crystals in his urine and was close to death. The vet was able to save him, though, and to this day, I can’t thank her enough for it. I wrote this poem in honor of that.

Today Macbeth is 14 years old and still my baby. He’s the best cat I’ve ever had and I love him to pieces.

If you like my writing, please consider donating to me at the link below. All proceeds will go towards furthering my career as a writer.

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Witches: A Haiku

gather my witches:
the women who burned at stake
for the sins of men

gather my witches
save them from the salt marshes
let their bones breathe free

gather, my witches,
let us ride out and show them
fire cannot break us

gather, my witches,
we are the phoenix, and they,
are nothing but ash

Find more autumn and Halloween-themed haiku on my Medium page. And if you like what you’ve read, please consider leaving a tip. All donations will be used for reading fees to poetry and lit magazines.

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Death: A Haiku

when I think of death
I don’t imagine Heaven,
pearly gates open wind

when I think of death
I see only a void, and
hear only silence

when I think of death
I wish I could believe God
waits with open arms

I am not a religious person but sometimes I wish I was. I think it can be a comfort to people in hard times.

Find more autumn and Halloween-themed haiku on my Medium page. And if you like what you’ve read, please consider leaving a tip. All donations will be used for reading fees to poetry and lit magazines.

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Black: A Haiku

black lacquer shimmers
I file my nails to deadly
points of gothic dread

I’ve mentioned a couple times I’m currently working on a series of haiku based on a list of autumn and Halloween-inspired art and writing prompts I found on Twitter. I’m a year and 25 days late to this challenge, but I’m hopeful I can finish it before the end of the month. With the holiday season fast approaching, I’ll be wanting to do focus on something else. Maybe even a winter and Christmas-themed series of haiku is in order.

If you’re interested in reading the other haiku in this series, please check out my Medium page.

The button at the bottom is of this post takes you to my shiny new Buy Me a Coffee page. Or, in my case, Buy Me a BOOK page. I’d greatly appreciate any tips, which will go towards reading fees for poetry and lit mags.

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Mountains Out of Molehills

there in the distance
hazy peak reaching for blue
my mountain to climb

journey forward and
up a jagged precipice
my fingers bloodied

determination
I will not be left to rot
upon this dark rock

this mountain, though of
my own creation, will not
be my final death

It’s been an odd handful of days for me. I’ve been laser-focused on writing, blogging, and trying to think of ways to further my success. It’s still my dream to someday be able to make a living off my writing. I’m not sure where this burst of motivation came from, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Over the past year or so, my confidence in my writing ability has grown tenfold. I used to be someone who hated everything I wrote and always struggled to share it with the world. I read my writing now and I don’t immediately cringe doing so. There have been a few pieces I’ve liked enough to want to submit them–and was successful doing so. Maybe this is a sign of maturity, or maybe my friend Katie Staten, with her constant support, has finally convinced me I’m not a terrible writer.

I wrote this connected series of haiku when I was in a really dark place. I was considering giving up writing for good. I thought I’d never accomplish anything with it. I knew, though, if I did, I’d be unhappy for the rest of my life. Hard as it may be, I love writing, and without the release it provides, I’d probably go insane. So I wrote this poem to remind myself that, though the going may be tough, the end of the journey is always worth it. So like the little engine that could, I just keep chugging along. I’ve got a long way to go yet but, right now, it feels doable.

If you’d like to read more of my poetry, stop by my Medium page. I’ve been working on a series of autumn and Halloween-inspired haiku that are, in my not-so-humble opinion, cute and a lot of fun. I hope to see you there!

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Invisible Enemies

I admit, when I started this page (or any of my social media accounts), I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to stare at my lack of engagement and feel like all my effort is for naught.

Maybe my expectations were just too high.

Let’s be real: building a social media presence is hard. Marketing is hard. WRITING is hard–and when I fail at the first two things, my rewards-motivated brain just nopes out if it doesn’t get instant gratification (thanks ADHD).

And if I don’t write…well, I’ll never achieve my dream of publishing a book and maybe, someday, making a living solely off writing.

The most frustrating thing is it feels like I’m battling an invisible enemy: Algorithms. I can write and draw until my fingers ache, but if I can’t beat the algorithms at their game, no one sees any of it.

Does anyone else miss the good ol’ days of social media, before algorithms became the new “it” thing? It seems all they’ve done is make a mess of things.

There are some things I can try to boost my engagement: change up my hashtag game, post in the morning on weekdays (Google says this is the best time), and avoid outbound links. Hopefully it’ll do some good.

I’m trying my very best not to get discouraged with the low amount of engagement on my posts, here or otherwise. But I’m having a hard time of it. Any encouragement or support anyone has to offer would be much appreciated.

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