What happens when my brain splits in two.

dear hearts

Unkept may be the two sides of my brain, but Dear Hearts is the two sides of my heart.

It was difficult to write, not only canvassing the pain that comes when infidelity inflicts a marriage and family, but writing from the perspective of a man who loves said family and adores said marriage yet has an affair with another man? Well, all I can say is life is gritty and Mitch’s life? It ain’t no exception.

Each word sheared away a piece of my heart.

Mitch and Elena are characters that are deeper than characters. They’re a pulse, working together and withering apart. They are victims to their own love story, craving happy endings when understanding what true, devotional, Godly love is has never glimmered on their radar.

They’re the prime example of what happens when life shuffles its cards and you’re left empty-handed.

What can we learn? Appreciate everything you have, even when  life feels like a single grain of sugar boring through a tooth.  Talk openly, honestly. Do no judge but do not blindly accept either.

Love with a sacrificial heart and an expanse of pure dedication.

Know that we only flicker here for a little while. So use every moment.


Dear Hearts is for the over eighteen crowd so please keep that in mind. Also understand that this book is not a promotional platform for any particular viewpoint. It is an examination into the human mind and heart and the struggle life brings when you leave God out of the picture.

You can read Dear Hearts for free here on Wattpad.

Click here for the ebook.

Click here for a paper copy.

A low-cal social media diet.

social media image
Every once in a while I take my life’s pulse.

Simply put, I scan for areas of improvement and start working on the better version of me.

(Blame Oprah.)

I’ve recently found one such area that I’m tweaking (twerking? hahaha…no), and I’m already feeling oodles better: my social media life.

My teeth are rotting. Help.

I hate Facebook and Instagram. There, I said it. And I know, I know, you’re all like, “But Ericka, you’re a social media maven with slightly decent hair and a Romanesque nose that just won’t quit.” And yeah, maybe the old me was. But now?

I’m tired. I just want to live. I want to stop comparing my life to others’. I want to stop inwardly seething at blatant political posts and getting all frazzled, not because somebody I know has a particular political mindset, but because they’d much rather exercise their right to incessantly chatter into an online void instead of realizing how it might make others feel. I’m also tired of taking photos of my sandwiches.

This me, me, me generation is starting to rot my teeth, you guys. And frankly, my soul.

And I don’t want to add to it.

Let’s start a different conversation.

When it boils down to it, I think blogging gives me the freedom to fully express what’s dancing between the sheets of my brain. Instagram and Facebook are just tiny nuggets of truth, and half the time, they’re not even that truthful.

Do you know how many times it takes me to snap a selfie? 72. And that doesn’t even include choosing a filter.

Here’s my truth: my skin isn’t always clear, sometimes I’m a little hungover, I snap at my kid, I snap at my husband, I love them more than my heart can take, I fail God like I’m Judas Iscariot’s twin sister Jane, and I don’t always shave my legs.

But I’m still loved and accepted and don’t need to worry about mindless swiping, mindless likes to make me whole.

Know thyself.

If you’re eyeing my home page right now, you’ll see links to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. For me, these don’t count. I’m never on them and if I do happen to take a stroll down Pinterest lane, I’m probably looking up 5 million ways aloe is going to turn me into Jennifer Lopez (I’ll keep you posted).

You gotta know what’s working and what’s hacking at your inner peace with a chainsaw.

And for me? Those channels barely tickle.

Challenge time.

So if you want to chat with me, human being to human being, I invite you to check out this page and send me your inner thoughts. I’d like to get to know you while having absolutely no clue what your lunch looks like.

(Oprah would be proud.)

Oh and one more thing. Which social media channel do you need to give the ax to?

Dear Ava,

I’m a horrible mother. And a terrifically good mother. And a no nonsense mother and a spastic, nonsensical type of female who keeps parking crookedly and forgets the word for fork sometimes, and then other times I feed people my brilliance.

I don’t think any of us were meant to be good at this.

But I think that’s okay. I think for the first time ever, there’s no good mother Olympics, no gold to be won.

There are mistakes and bruises and tears and the way she looks at me like she’s known me before she was born and wishes she’d never met my face.

It’s the same way I look into the mirror sometimes.

But there are those other crystal clear moments, a love abundant, a love like Christ’s, where I can feel it all weaving together, broken skin healing and that sound she makes when she breathes.

Step one, we are alive.

Step two, start living,

Step three, write down, paper to pen.

Dear Ava,

I’m sorry.

But dear Ava,

You now know the truth.

Energy

IMG_3630

An

incredible amount

of energy

is spent

forgetting

all that’s left

to remember.

-e.c.

21 Things I’ll Say When I Die

  1. I cried, too. You just couldn’t see me.
  2. Being brazenly proud of your Internet history should have been a warning flag.
  3. It’s awful that I can only sum up the entire contents of your heart into that moment you pressed a cold wash cloth against my head when my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding.
  4. I used to press my head against your car window, wishing you were anyone but you.
  5. You are my best friend, and I can’t wait to high five your face in heaven.
  6. You should stop talking so much so I don’t have to be sad for everyone’s ears.
  7. You taught me all the worst parts of myself and it only made me see the best in you.
  8. I wanted to be you when I grew up, but only if you would have grown up, too.
  9. I am not evil. You aren’t either. Let’s just leave it at that.
  10. It’s okay. I understand now.
  11. Wishing it away is like swallowing your own tongue.
  12. I stopped writing because the words began to break and fall apart and when I tried to pick one up, it bit my hand and called me a fraud.
  13. You are a whirling dervish on acid.
  14. It wasn’t fair of me. Not a single moment of it.
  15. I never wanted to be you. Not really. I just wanted, just one time, for you to want to be me.
  16. Don’t be me. Don’t ever be me.
  17. Unless you want to. I don’t blame you. I have nice ankles.
  18. But seriously, guard your heart, your loins and every tissuey organ that has the potential to give you grief. And when you do give them away, be prepared to never ask for them back.
  19. I loved you all the most. And perhaps that was my vilest sin.
  20. One more high five, best friend.
  21. Okay. I’m ready.

Gram

  

Dirty Words: Finding Hope in Honest Writing

depression
Photo credit: Jennifer Jones

My book is about a man who has sex with another man in a cemetery near a Catholic church.

My book is laced with profanity and the difficultly digested truth that darkness can worm its way through a weakened heart.

My book deals with piss and bleach and infidelity and marriage and drunkenness and slurred words and dried mascara and manipulative sex and co-dependent love and all those other things that would never work as a Facebook status or yearly Christmas letter.

My book is honest. It is real. It is humanity in its dirtiest form.

So how, then, can it be Good?

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe certain things about Goodness, especially about those who attempt to live in the name of it. They are close-minded, judgmental, bitter little individuals who would rather wallow in their self-righteousness than actually give two cents about you.

For some people is this truth? Unfortunately, yes. But is this what REAL Goodness is all about?

Fortunately, no.

This is the thing: the world hurts which means we hurt. My characters are hurting in their own world. They feel disconnected and cut off and unloved. They feel alone and embarrassed in their attempts to connect. They feel scorned and hopeless.

They just want to be truly themselves and respected for it.

And my hope is that this book is a testament to what I believe. That even when things seem the most heartless and scary and downright suffocating, there are still Good people who want to lift you up and bring you to the light. They want to be the shoulder, the rock, the way. They just want to help, no strings attached.

This is what I want my book to teach. I want my writing to be a reminder that those same feelings of unworthiness boil in the bellies of all of us. And that no amount of make up and staged photos and new cars and cool clothes will ever be able to wash away that fact.

Because when we’re reminded of our humanity and seek it in others, we’re more apt to do the Good thing, the only thing: love.


dear hearts

This post brought to you by the discussions I had in the comments of this post with Jay Wilson and Michelle Terry. And a book that I hope brings peace to anyone who reads it.

The Life of a Writer

The Life of a Writer
Is it legal to put crack in a coffee cup? I’m asking for a friend.

I used to watch other people get published and then tweet the living crap about it on Twitter, and then I’d think God, I want to be them.

Because somewhere in my damaged brain, I had already reconciled with the fact that they were no longer human beings but gods of the universe who were given trained aliens on their publication date and these aliens would cook, clean, do the laundry, massage their feet and DVR Property Brothers for them while they were free to pleasantly market their new book.

But then I’ve suddenly become one of these gods of the universe, and as hard as I’ve searched for my aliens, the only thing I’ve found is a chewed up Lego and a tiny piece of bacon covered in dog hair.

Seriously. who cleans this place?

Instead of basking in the beautifully neon glow of an extraterrestrial, this is my godforsaken schedule on any given day:

  1. Wake up. Wonder why they canceled Who’s The Boss for fifteen minutes and then turn off my alarm. With my fists.
  2. Put on clothes. Or my bath towel from the night before and my “I Got Crabs at Joe’s Crabshack” baseball cap. No one will notice.
  3. Receive a tiny flying shoe in the face while walking down the hallway. Remember I have offspring.
  4. Make offspring breakfast. Kids like bran, right? Right.
  5. Listen to twenty minutes worth of screaming. Realize it’s coming out of my mouth.
  6. Step in poop. Remember I have dogs.
  7. Put on my make up, or as I like to call it, “You were sixteen once…hahaha!” Then cry for seven minutes.
  8. Watch a performance consisting of show tunes and random bouts of jazz hands. Remember I have a husband.
  9. Take offspring to school. Make friends on the highway with my horn.
  10. Try to trick the other parents at child’s school into believing I’m a tiny gnome from the future. Pretend not to be concerned when they believe me.
  11. Go home.
  12. Stare at computer.
  13. Push buttons.
  14. Prank call my grandmother.
  15. Do the dishes and berate them for being dirty.
  16. Pet the clothes in the laundry basket and say things to them like “If only you had legs and didn’t live here.”
  17. Pick up child from school. Avoid glances from the school psychologist.
  18. Go home and play game with child where I have no idea what I’m doing. Name it “life.”
  19. Make dinner with my  mind.
  20. Put child to bed with a kiss and an interpretive dance based on my latest manuscript.
  21. Stare at husband’s head in that cute way I do.
  22. Sleep with eyes open.

You guys, I’m tired, I’m cranky and I’m flat out of aliens. But I’m working my ass off so my book will be READ.

Forget sales, forget curling up into Oprah’s lap while she pats my head (I’m just kidding. I could never forget something like that.), forget being what I think a published author SHOULD be.

I’m here to give you words, to change your mind, to free your heart. And I pray to God/Tony Danza, that I’ve done you justice.

Now if you don’t mind, there’s a head that needs staring at.

 

Unkept by Ericka Clay

 

Look at what I did! Now you can pre-order the Kindle version of my novel, Unkept, here: http://amzn.com/B00SM090XI All the proceeds will go towards glittering cats. You have my word.

Gone

This piece is part of a round robin story I’m doing with the Bannerwing Write Club.  To read the beginning of the story, be sure to visit When and Where at Sure D, It’s All Good.  

 

girl in cemetary
Photo Credit: Lexie Alley on Flickr

The name read: Allen Henry Buell.

Her heart, her joints, the sinewy tissue that aligned her spine popped and tore, so one moment Robin was flanked by the twins and the next she wasn’t inside her body.

She was inside her memory.

“Nothing good comes with babies,” her father had whispered when she first told him, and it was worse than if he had yelled it because Robin knew there was a tumor of disgust inside of him, and she wouldn’t be able to find it, to cut it out.

But Robin proved him wrong and gave birth to goodness personified: Eleanor Lynn.

Life was rougher but better.  School (tenth grade) where the boys called her a slut, a job at Pickwick’s Pizza where the air moved heavy with oil, then to Mrs. Garrity’s next door to pick up her daughter who loved the woman with gnarled hands and a lovely voice still tinged from her British upbringing.

And then home.  It was an interesting word, home, because it was where the blinds were always shut tight and the bitter taste of beer hooked her attention whenever her father said, “Trash.  Needs to go out,” from back inside his cave of a bedroom.  His doorway vibrated with color and sound from his always on TV set, and Robin would strap Eleanor to her chest to the beat of that noise, the baby clinging warmly against her.

She’d take the cans out in the broken ink jar of an evening and watch the stars, watch the skies for hints of her mother.

This went on for years, three to be specific.  And everything was mapped out, rough but better, until the day Robin came home to find her father and daughter missing.

The past ripped through her, sewed her back together while the present battered her body like a pair of angry fists.

“You will pay,” Robin said, balancing on knees and hands in the wet cemetery grass, tempering her nausea against the bitter tang of beer in the air.

For the next part of the story, head over to My Write Side.