Lately most of my working time has been filled with a fabulous collaborative project, The Courage To Be Me, by Nina Burrowes. It’s an illustrated story of self-compassion and hope after rape and sexual abuse, inspired by a research project following five women in group therapy. Each chapter follows one of the (fictional) women through part of her journey towards rebuilding her life, and these stories build upon each other throughout the book. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist: Jade Sarson, Nina herself, Alex Bertram-Powell and me. The first three chapters are available to read online already, beginning here. Mine is the last and will be available soon (when I’ve finished drawing all the trees…).
Naturally this project is very close to my heart because I see something of my own experience in each of the characters in the story. But it’s been especially fascinating to see the book evolve through the eyes and skilful pens of a team of artists with different interpretations, guided by Nina’s vision. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but for the women in the story something transformative happens through the work they do as a group. The work Nina, Jade, Alex and I have done as a group has also been transformative for me, and through these fictional women I’ve found so much more compassion for my own experience. This, of course, is what Nina is hoping to achieve, and I feel confident that this story will be helpful to many. I’m excited to see the whole thing complete!