Love is everywhere, even wrapped in tragedy, even gummed up in mental health ooze. Haleigh Fenton felt it, always, even when it was hard to receive and even harder to provide. Writing it out helped push through the fog of life to find it again.
Her debut book Love All Over The Place takes the reader into that fog, and out the other side where she is today, confident, accomplished, an author.
Fenton, looking back at age 23, always seemed destined to wind up between the pages. Her nose has been stuck in a book since she memorized Aunt Pitty Patty’s Piggy from all the readings by her grandparents. Her mom and dad always marvelled at her vocabulary and sentence structure, even as a two-year-old just grasping the language.
She is also strong at music, another language. These sides of her scholastic personality compensated for her self-admitted lack of athletic prowess and street-smarts. She soaked up everything her English and Writing teachers – she most responded to Nicole Dagenais Dubuc and Troy Moore at Correlieu Secondary School – could pencil out for her, and it led her to a degree in marketing.
But suffering in life seems inevitable, and she got some.
“I was in a car accident right after I turned 19, just outside of town, on my way home from Kelowna, and it was really bad but we were totally fine, an absolute miracle that it was just cuts and bruises,” she said. “But about six days later one of my best friends passed away in a car accident very similar to mine. Right after that I went to therapy. Why was I ok? It (the survivor’s guilt) was really terrible. Crash in October, therapy in December, Jan. 1 I wrote my very first blog. It was 2019 and I was 19.”
The blog was just an outlet, just a creative valve to get the chaotic contents of her head out into some sort of order. It was about independence and making sense. As she haphazardly added blog postings on a website she created but didn’t advertise, its popularity grew. An audience magnetized to it.
And COVID hit. She was locked in a house with her family. Maybe that was the best thing that could have ever happened, because that’s when the strength of her mental illness really started to flex. What started out as something akin to boredom grew to look more like apathy, then tiredness, then chronic fatigue, then unmistakable dysfunction. But it was all seen by family, and in a place where it could be addressed directly.
Part of that push-back was medical consultation, and part of it was turning to her old friend the written word.
“I never really even thought about making a book,” she said. “I’ve just been writing forever.” So she kept at it. The blog kept growing. So did the audience.
She was also pursuing the artistic side of the blog sphere, and using her marketing background. She started working with the Canva software program, and that led to working with Amazon’s layout templates. These pieces were the puzzle finally coming together for the book. She had the tools, the knowledge, and the volume of material to put it all together, plus now the inspiration to write especially for something that would be packaged together.
Love All Over The Place is not a novel or even a formal story. It is page after page of poetic fragments of life’s observances.
“This is a million things, and its only two millimetres thick,” she said. (It’s not, she’s being modest.)
“A lot of people think it must be about me trying to be wise. It’s just me being human,” she clarified. It is also wide open to interpretation, despite it all coming from her place of experience and impression. Even those who were standing beside her for some of these depictions are free to chose their own thought direction.
“I really struggled with that. I felt bad and wanted to say ‘it’s not about you’ but then I realized, no, I wrote this whole book on my experience, on what happened to me. That’s my truth. It might not be how you think things went, or how you like to think of those experiences.”
Reading her own work gave her new insights on old emotions and memories, sometimes. She knows this kind of book is a snapshot of a certain place in one’s time, but each reader will take that on board their own interpretive vessel.
She is not working on part two, but she is now open to the idea of adding another book to her background, now that this one is free in the world. “I would love to write a book about the female experience,” she speculated. Some of that is already inside this book, especially the passage that ends “But now I bare my teeth.”
Love All Over The Place is available now on Amazon.com, and more of Fenton’s writing is available at lifeofhaleigh.com.
We as people
(especially my shy folks of the world)
do not deserve
a life we tolerate
for the comfort of others.
there is space here for you