A novel for anyone who’s loved and lost, and lived to tell the tale
Until recently I had avoided the topic of heartbreak in my writing. It was something I didn’t feel ready to tackle yet. But writing is a lot like love; it begins with a spark, which catches and grows, and you can’t ever predict when it will happen or how it will end. This particular spark struck one day, when I found myself compelled to write a short story about a break-up. The words practically poured from me (like blood from an all-too-literal wound) and after a few frenzied days of typing I felt a satisfying sort of emptiness. It was out of me and on the page. I was done. Or so I thought…
I shared the story with my friends and soon afterwards they all responded with photos of themselves reading it and crying. I have not included said photos, but trust me when I say they were all harrowing and hilarious in equal measure.
A similar thing happened a few years ago; I was in the middle of making a YouTube series called Time of The Month, a monthly video scrapbook of my life, when I found myself in the throes of a particularly rough break-up. Instead of ending the series and disappearing from the internet altogether (which, believe me, seemed a very tempting option at the time), I decided to talk about my grief and document the ups and downs of the healing process on film.
The response was overwhelming! I was inundated with comments from complete strangers who could all relate to what I was going through. Their sympathy and support, along with my friends’ reactions to my short story, reminded me that grief is universal, and that in order to have love in our lives, we must risk feeling loss.
I knew then that I needed to tell this story through to completion — not from beginning to end, but from end to beginning; from the depths of grief, to the heights of love, with all the madness and mundanity in between.
Out of Love is a love story in reverse, set against the bittersweet backdrop of inevitable heartbreak up ahead. It begins at the end of a relationship, and weaves back together an already unravelled tapestry, from tragic break-up to magical first kiss.
This is my tale of love and loss, and I’m hoping you’ll help me tell it.
Here’s what some friends think of what they’ve read so far:
'Hazel Hayes writes with such honesty and casual confidence and flowing dialogue, you feel you are overhearing it rather than reading it. The writing sparkles with wit, and a poignant emotional reality. I love it.'
Matt Haig, bestselling author
'A beautiful deconstruction of a relationship that explores not what the ending is, but rather, how something began. Beautifully written, heart-wrenching and reminiscent of every broken feeling you ever had, Hazel’s story is a charming tale of how everything fell apart.'
Anna Akana, filmmaker and author
'Hazel’s book is funny and moving and bleak and hopeful all at the same time. This brutally honest tale of a young woman navigating the high hopes and crashing disappointments of modern romance is by turns heartbreaking and heart-mending. And not necessarily in that order. For anyone who was ever in a failed relationship, or anyone who ever failed at being in a relationship. Like Bridget Jones and Sylvia Plath setting the world to rights over a supermarket vino.'
Paul Neafcy, writer and author
'Hazel is a beautifully brazen, headstrong writer who portrays realities with a wonderful wink and wry smile in everything she does. She's the kind of content creator I wish I could be, if I was a little more Irish and a little less insecure.'
Grace Helbig, comedienne and author
'Most of us have experienced the immense pain heartache can bring and Hazel manages to explore the untangling of a relationship in a way that feels as if you're reading a journal entry. Raw and unfiltered, I found myself relating to even the most subtle details.'
Estée Lalonde, author and lifestyle vlogger
To be published 2019
He’s standing in the hallway now, looking into the bedroom we once shared, processing the new decor and the number of boxes I’ve stacked against one wall.
“There’s so many.”
“I did say,” I call back from the kitchen. As I reach into the cupboard for some mugs, he speaks again, quieter this time.
“Thanks, for packing it all for me.”
He glances towards me, all doe eyes and guilt.
"You’re welcome,” I say.
"He goes into the bedroom and as I pour water over a tea bag, I’m distracted. I look back at the spot where he stood and remember the night he left, just over a month ago. I stopped him, grabbed him, and we stood holding one another for what felt like far too long and not nearly long enough. I tried, right there on that very spot, to commit the feel of him to my memory; the weight of his arms, the exact pressure they exerted on my body, the concave dip of his chest where my head rested neatly, how my right hip bone pressed against his left, and how my shoulders folded, birdlike, as he pulled me into him. When he took a step back I remained, motionless. He kissed me. Said he loved me. And with that he was gone.
There was a silence then. More than a silence, a vacuum. It felt as though the air around me had been sucked out the door with him and I now stood inside a void so dense that my skull might implode from the pressure. The door seemed to bend impossibly towards me, then away. I reeled, turning towards the kitchen and stepping onto nothing, as though my legs had disappeared. Before I could check if they were still intact, though, a convulsion seized me, I grabbed onto a door frame, leaned over and wretched. Nothing came up. I hadn’t eaten that day. Then I lowered myself to the floor and lay, face down, with my cheek against the wood. Somewhere in the distance I could hear a whistling sound.
I don’t know how long I stayed that way. Hours, maybe. Or it might have just seemed like hours. I can’t remember all my thoughts in that place, but at some point I flashed on the pregnancy test I’d taken that morning; a blue cross forming in a tiny window. I saw it materialise, over and over, then pushed it away. I’ll think about that tomorrow, I thought. And with that, Scarlett O’Hara’s voice was in my head and I was twelve years old again, lying in my mother’s bed watching Gone With The Wind. My mother. I should call my mother. I’d been recovering from a particularly horrendous bout of food poisoning. When she thought I was better she gave me apple juice and I vomited it back up, hot and thick. I haven’t drunk apple juice since. I should eat something. I need to eat. I need to call my mother. What will I tell her? What the hell is that whistling sound?!
It was me. I was sucking air through what felt like a tiny hole in my throat and my long, laboured breaths were producing a sound not unlike nails on a chalkboard. I probably would have passed out had my stomach not growled so loudly that the sound actually startled me. I told myself, out loud, to get off the floor, then I scrambled my way back up the door frame and eventually wobbled my way to the kitchen like a fawn on brand new legs. I ate a piece of dry toast and went to bed, where I lay howling, till I fell asleep. I had never cried like that before. The sounds were guttural and animalistic, and I let them come.
And We’re Off!
Friday, 30 November 2018
Dearest book backers,
This is the first of what I’m sure will be many updates and many thank yous on the road to writing my book! They will no doubt become more sporadic, frantic and emotional as we go (so we’ve all got that to look forward to) but for now let’s enjoy this relatively calm and collected version of me.
As you may have noticed - I barely noticed of course and I definitely haven…
These people are helping to fund Out of Love.