Listen to the Podcast episode on Podbean: https://wisenotwithered.podbean.com/e/singing-therapist-%e2%80%93-beatrice/
Hello and welcome to Week 23 of the Wise Not Withered Character Showcase! This week we are introducing Beatrice, our 45-year-old Singing Therapist! The writer for this character, Agatha, was actually the only one to reach out to me to join the project, which was pretty interesting from a creator’s standpoint. I haven’t done much at all in terms of promotion, so it was cool that someone somehow found out about the project and reached out.
Beatrice’s character development was, as I mentioned in last week’s episode, a joint effort by Agatha and me. My initial idea was to have a therapist character deal with some sort of intense grief in her own life, and struggle with a few relationships (yes, very intentionally vague). Agatha added in the aspect of music—specifically singing—as a way that Beatrice both copes with and finds her own voice, strength, and new perspective amidst the chaos of a distressing job and dissolving marriage.
The first illustrator I found for this character was on Behance, and I really liked her digital art. We exchanged a few messages—I did my best to use my limited Japanese in messages over Behance and eventually email. We went back and forth a good many times, talking about Agatha’s and my ideas for the illustrations. Ultimately, we ended up mutually agreeing that the communication was just too difficult and it was not making sense for her to keep trying different illustrations that didn’t fit with our vision. One of the hardest parts of this project has been making the difficult but necessary decision to let an artist or writer go when no progress is being made. No hard feelings, the show simply must go on!!
Agatha is from Canada, but culturally she is Polish, so I decided to try and find an artist specifically from Poland in hopes that she could see Agatha’s vision for the illustrations come to life. And that’s where Agnieszka comes in! I also found her on Behance, and she already finished all of the illustrations before the story was complete.
Agatha’s story is still in the beginning stages, but we figured out a general outline together. Beatrice is a 45-year-old woman who works as a therapist, has a dormant but strong connection to her deceased grandfather, and starts out in an abusive marriage in the beginning of the story but gets out of it by the end. In the beginning, Beatrice would feel victimized as the recipient of tons of negative emotions from her clients and her husband. By the end of the story she would have built stronger boundaries and be more capable of protecting her own energy and doing her job, without taking on her clients’ problems as her own.
Beatrice would have a special rock that belonged to her grandfather that she carries around with her to give her strength. Over the course of the story, she indeed gains confidence and solace from the rock in her pocket, but at one point she loses the rock, and it at first seems like all hope is lost. But then she soon finds that the strength she felt was inside of her all the while, and she realizes that she does not need the rock anymore to see her own worth, resilience, and stay connected to her grandfather’s spirit.
Agatha and I discussed the story and illustrations over video chat one day, and I ended up doing some very simple sketches. Agnieszka’s illustrations bring so much life and character to my stick-person sketches and Agatha’s vision. Here are all the descriptions and final illustrations, side-by-side with my sketches. I am so pleased with how they turned out!!
1) sitting in a chair / right side shows a patient talking, spewing a black cloud of negativity toward her, left side shows her husband scolding, spewing the same black matter toward her
2) in reality – sitting on a park bench, lost in thought – someone playing saxophone or another instrument in the background triggers a memory she has drifted off into
in her thoughts – of herself as a young girl, shown from a back angle, with a bow in her hair and wearing a cute little dress holding a microphone singing happily, music notes around her, grandfather’s image/spirit shown as though she is singing to/with him
3) glowing rock in her cupped hands / her standing with a choir, rock is glowing in her pocket
4) a shadow of herself cowering, kneeling on the ground, facing the left / on the right, she is taller and is walking away confidently, her whole body is glowing, highlighting the glow coming from the pocket that holds the rock; this set of images shows her transition from feeling trapped in her marriage, to when she packs up her things and runs away, finally feeling free
5) curled up in fetal position, crying after she’s lost the rock, feeling shattered and broken
6) standing on the balcony, glowing the same way without the rock, seagulls flying overhead in a circle, and her grandfather’s playful spirit’s image is in the middle of the seagulls
Hope you get a chance to look at the showcase online, to see all these wonderful illustrations!!
And as usual, I will end the episode with a short reading from Agatha’s story about Beatrice, the Singing Therapist!
“As I begin to lock up for the day, I leave the office building thinking deeply to myself…
We are taught at a very early age to be selfish. To keep your head down and focus solely on your own success. When we start to wonder if there is more to life – a connection to the greater collective perhaps; a way of life where all living beings thrive – the moment you stop being selfish is the precise moment others that operate from the exact same mode of being, start to criticize you and suggest that there are holes in your thinking.
I should have just focused on my client and his issues; done what I was paid for. Instead, I opened a can of worms in my mind. How am I supposed to go home like this? I can’t go back to him, I just can’t. I’ve put up with this horrible man for too long. How can I let him treat me this way? I never take a break for myself. I end up enabling his terrible behavior all because I don’t make time for myself. This ends today.
When was the last time I sat in a park like this, and just sat with myself, taking in nature while truly enjoying every moment? I close my eyes… The music this busker is playing is touching me in places I didn’t even know I could feel from; awakening all my senses. I’m suddenly transported back to a time when I was a little girl. Happily singing along to my favourite song, as I painted vividly with all the colours of the sunset. My grandfather’s spirit beside me, as always.
It has been so long since I have felt something so pure in reality, that, I almost forgot this had happened in the first place. It was like a distant dream. This wonderful memory had gotten buried amongst so many bad memories that quickly replaced them and became my new normal for so many decades! To think, all this time, it was inside me all along. All I had to do was change my perspective.”
Thanks for checking out this episode! Have a great week, and stay tuned for two more episodes of the Wise Not Withered character showcase!!