In Honor of International Artist Day :: The Becky Newell Artist Collective

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Did you know there is an International Artist Day? Yes, that’s a thing! International Artist Day is on October 25, and this year, I would like to celebrate by telling you all about the extremely talented and inspiring collective of British artists known as The Becky Newell Artist Collective.

I discovered this amazing artist collective while doing research for my second novel, Mirrored Souls. My heroine is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, also called DID. This disorder used to be known as multiple personality disorder until more recent years. One of the alternate identities of a character in my book is a very talented artist who’s just discovering her gifts. Although I write romance, I spend as many hours researching facts as I do writing fiction. Especially when writing about subject matters such as mental illness and childhood trauma.

I wanted to know if alters could have different artistic talents, and if art was a common form of self-expression for people living with DID. Turns out, not only is art a common form of self-expression, but many different art modalities are used within a collective, family, or system. I was over the moon to find this information because I never want to misrepresent a community in the name of creative license.

Since I love weaving reality into my fictional work, I felt compelled to make an allusion to this amazing collective of artists living and creating in England. They use their art as a form of therapy as well as a way to raise awareness of and about DID. I will be the first to admit, some of their work is quite disturbing, but that’s to be expected.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is the result of repetitive, extensive exposure to early childhood trauma between the ages of birth to six years old. Unfortunately, DID is not curable; integration is not possible. With therapy, support, and lifestyle management, many people living with DID are able to live fairly normal lives. It’s important to allow each of the alternate identities to grow and develop as individuals. 

Below is an excerpt from my novel where my heroine, Vivian Ellis, is discussing a conversation she had with an international artist who’s coming to work in her gallery in Harbison – yes, the same Harbison in Lexington county – as an artist in residence. This artist is the first person outside of her therapist and her husband she’s talked to about her diagnosis of DID.

Allusion to Becky Newell Collective

Since publishing the second and third books in my Broken Souls series, I have reached out to the Becky Newell Collective on Instagram. They are very gracious and always excited to discuss art, DID, and their experiences. In my third novel, Consecrated Souls, Valery, the alternate identity who paints as a way of self-expression, creates this amazing mixed media self-portrait. I don’t give a lot of description in the book, but I kind of became obsessed with what it would look like if it was a real piece of art.

So, like any writer who spends most of her day arguing with fictional characters about their motivations and arcs, I tried to recreate Val’s self-portrait.

DISCLAIMER: Ella Shawn is not a visual artist. Also, no animals were harmed. 
I love Vivian’s reaction to one of her alters’ self-portraits. I’ve been haunted by the imagery since writing chapter 13! Now, I’m no artist but this character trait in Valery was inspired by an amazing British artist living with DID. I spent my day attempting to capture Valery as she captured herself.

I’m a bold writer on social media, so of course, I posted this on my Instagram with the quote from the book. No, it didn’t wow anyone except for one really important International Artist. 

Yep! That’s right. The Becky Newell Collective commented on my post, and I promise you it was the most amazing comment I’ve ever read. Be sure to read the caption beneath the picture because it’s what Becky Newell Collective replied about.

(Side note: The reply came from Jack Newell, the alternate identity who is the most active within the family, collective, system.)

@authorellashawn I am humbled to be someone’s inspiration, thank you . Our paintings are most certainly a way to communicate our voices- as individuals , process what happened to us and to raise awareness of DID and simply because it’s our language. And it’s true I, in particular, do many portraits and self portraits! Thank you again. 

As a dark romance writer, it’s often difficult to convey the validity of my writing as literary fiction. Most people are dismissive of romance as a genre because they believe it lacks the substance of upmarket literary fiction associated with Reese Whitherspoon and Oprah’s book clubs. That’s why the reply by Becky Newell Arts is the most amazing comment I’ve ever read.

The Becky Newell Collective is a highly respected, successful system of artists living with dissociative identity disorder, and they were able to relate to my work of fiction in a way that validates the substance to be found in my dark romance novels. Their reply is an acknowledgment of the necessity of exploring the darker aspects of the human experience with the purpose of illustrating the redemptive power of unconditional love, compassion, and forgiveness. First of self and then of others.

Besides, who doesn’t love a hard-won happily-ever-after?

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Ella Shawn is a contemporary women's fiction writer with a fondness for complex characters and happily-ever-afters. She also produces a podcast aptly named, Enchanted BEAST Podcast where she elevates, encourages, and empowers women to connect with their higher self and live the enchanted lifestyle they deserve to live. And because she's a mommy of three beautiful daughters, she writes for a mommy blog once a month. If she's not writing, podcasting, or blogging; then you can probably find her sitting in her favorite chair with a ball of yarn, her wooden crochet hooks making something bohemian-inspired for her Etsy shop, Browns-n-Barnacles PCD. Ella married the boy she fell in love with during her senior year of high school. They started dating in 1992 and either they both were too lazy to look for other options or were lucky enough to find their happily-ever-after at the age of seventeen. Ella says it the enduring love she shares with her husband that allows her to write romance novels with hard-won HEAs. After developing systemic lupus erythematosus and narcolepsy w/cataplexy, she and her husband decided it was time for her to come home and learn how to live as healthy as possible with the new reality their family was now facing. It turned out to be a blessing, because a few years later, her youngest daughter developed two of the rarest neurological sleeping disorders in the world (Klein Levins Syndrome- a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty Disease and Sighted Non-24). Not only is Vickey able to be at home with her daughter while she attends South Carolina Virtual Charter School and when she goes into KLS episodes, she is also free to pursue her passion as a romance writer, podcaster, and blogger under the pen name; Ella Shawn. Her enchanted platform is an extension of her philosophy of living, loving, and evolving. She writes to gain understanding of the hard choices women often have to make. She endeavors to create enchanted spaces in which to disrobe and see the whole of who she is, and who she isn’t. Vickey shares her journey of self-discovery through writing romance novels, on her podcast, and in her blog. She loves connecting with women who enjoy seeing glimpses of their truth wrapped in sexy happily-ever-after’s. Vickey uses her platform to encourage women to reconnect with their true and essential selves. To cultivate and nurture spaces where they cease being simply women of flesh and bone and become Enchanted Beasts. When she’s not being Ella Shawn, or learning coach, or caregiver, or being taken care of… You may find her painting, crocheting, meditating, or sweating it out in a hot yoga class. But she’s a wild and free spirit who would be just as happy living in a converted van and tooling around the country—sleeping where she runs out of gas. Landing wherever she lands and meeting whoever she meets. However; she’s pretty sure her husband and children wouldn’t be willing to pack up and hit the road with her and, anyway—where would all the piggies go? So, she indulges her nomadic, bohemian spirit with planned travel, mother-cation weekends, and her ever-growing imagination.

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